29 May 2012
Perhaps the more important power of Mindfulness is
its power to deal with distress. After practicing
Mindfulness for a while, we would make an important
discovery, that we tend to REACT towards situations.
When something happens, or somebody says or does
something, we react with anger, or happiness, or
hatred etc etc. From here, I learned the first and
most important lesson about happiness, that I am fully
responsible for how I feel. Thus, it is not skillful
to say, "he MAKES ME feel angry". If he "MAKES me"
feel angry, then why is it that ten other people in
the same situation would react in ten different ways?
And not all of them would be angry.
The truth is that *I* react with anger to the
situation. So it's more skillful to say, "*I* feel
angry about what he said", instead of "*HE* makes
me...". There is an important difference here. The
difference is that I take full responsibility for my
own feelings instead of putting the responsibility on
somebody else, and I started to look towards myself
for my own happiness. That, I realized, is the key to
happiness. If only we could work with our reactions,
we would stop being angry, or be less angry, in the
same situation. The same applies to other painful
feelings like disappointment, hatred etc.
This is where the power of Mindfulness lies. When I am
mindful of my state of mind and emotions at all time,
I begin to get a "feel" of how it works. When
something happens, I notice "anger
arising...arising...", and after a while, "anger
falling ... falling..., feeling of regret arising
...", and so on. What is most amazing is that after a
while, I began to develop some mastery over my
reactions! So when anger or hatred arises, I was
mindful of its arising and thus able to dissipate it.
I was no longer a slave of my reactions, getting
swamped by my feelings, but I had developed some say
of how I should feel.
The wonderful thing is that now, I was able to
practice what I already knew. In the past, I knew, for
example, that I should not have shouted at my friend.
Unfortunately, I couldn't control myself, and this "I
knew I shouldn't have" becomes just an elusive,
useless knowledge. It's just like a compulsive
gambler, he *KNOWS* for a fact that what he is doing
is hurting himself and his family, but he simply
couldn't help it. He has no mastery over himself. With
Mindfulness, I began to develop some mastery over
myself and I became more able to apply the "I should
not do it" knowledge to make my life better.
I discovered that with Mindfulness, I am more able to
work with my feelings. I became more patient, less
likely to be angry, more able to take disappointments,
more able to accept myself and those around me. I am
also more appreciative, my emotions more peaceful, and
my mind more concentrated. Simply put, I feel better.
~by Tan Chade Meng