Sixth post of the Live Your Legend Blog Challenge, the writing prompt is “What difference do you want to make?”
I had to take a step back and ask myself “Do I want to make a difference? Why?”
Do I? Nothing is permanent and everything is perpetually changing anyway, nothing is static, even if I don’t do anything things change and will be different. And whether the changes are perceived as positive, negative, good, bad, they’re all depend on the experiencers, the situation and condition we’re in, etc.
“Things do not change. WE change.”
~ Henry David Thoreau
If we want to make a change, we can do it only through the thing that we can be in control of, which is ourself. We have only limited control of the outside environment, but we are capable of being in full control of ourself. Until we realize that we are actually in full control of our response to the outside stimuli, we are reactive.
Many problems are caused by humans being reactive to outside stimuli. The common mechanism towards a stimuli is as below:
Stimuli > Perception > Reaction
This mechanism is actually key to survival. Example: there’s a snake (stimuli) > snakes are dangerous (perception) > avoid the snake (reaction).
However in current modern times, where there aren’t too many immediate physical dangers around, if we still rely on this mechanism in interacting with the world, we’re in trouble. Example: someone bumped into me while I’m walking straight ahead (stimuli) > he is breaching my personal space, an attack (perception) > attack back “Dude are you blind or something?” (reaction). From there many things could happen – angry glares, verbal fight, or even physical fight.
Even if nothing ensued, for example that person who bumped into me apologized right away, there was already that adrenaline rush, the fight or flight reaction happened. Adrenaline rush is necessary at times to prepare the body to face a high-stress situation eg: preparing to run away the snake. But the body couldn’t tell the difference between the adrenaline rush generated by a real danger, or the adrenaline rush from someone accidentally bumped into us, or the boss or customer yelling at us, or the traffic, etc. And being constantly on the ready to fight or flight condition is not good for the body.
So, what to do? Remember that we are able to control our response, we are able to take back the driver’s seat. How? By modifying the mechanism, instead of jumping straight into reaction, insert a space, then in that space the buddhi*, the higher mind can think and decide what’s the best thing to do for that situation, and choose the response. Not reacting is also a response.
Stimuli > Perception > [ s p a c e ] > Thinking > Decision > Response
Example: this person bumped into me (stimuli) > he is breaching my personal space, an attack (perception) > [ s p a c e ] > he didn’t mean to bump into me, that wasn’t an attack, he wasn’t breaching my personal space, he may be distracted, he may be rushing to go somewhere, etc (thinking) > I will not let myself get angry over such a small thing (decision) > smile and shrug it off (response).
How do we insert that space? By slowing down the thought process, through awareness and mindfulness. By training the mind itself. Training the mind to sustain a one pointed attention for as long as we could, for example breath awareness. Through meditation, be it meditation in stillness, or meditation in movement eg yoga, walking, running, etc.
So. Coming back to the question. Do I want to make a difference? Yes I do. Why? Because there are many unnecessary and avoidable problems caused by the reactiveness of humans.
What difference do I want to make? I want to help people take back the driver’s seat, to help them empower their buddhi. I want to help people remember that we only have one vehicle (this physical body), no trade ins or upgrade so we better take care of it nicely if we want a nice ride. And since we can’t trade in the vehicle, we better be comfortable in it, feel at home in it, love it. I want to help people remember that we are actually in control of the vehicle and we are actually the driver.
I believe if more people realize that we’re actually in full control of their response to outside stimuli, the more people will take a more compassionate, less violent response, there will be less avoidable & unnecessary problems in the world, and the world will become a much happier place. Instead of spending our energy to solve those unnecessary & avoidable problems, we can focus on other more serious problems eg: taking care of mother earth, using resources sustainably, distributing food to the hungry, etc.
*Buddhi is the determinative faculty of the mind that makes decisions, it is the doorway to wisdom. More info on buddhi at veda.wikidot.com
Image credit: Welcome new light by Alice Popkorn