We are now halfway through Mike Scanlan’s Mindfulness Expertise Series and this week we started to look at our reactions to stress and towards the end of the session Mike encouraged us to have more self-compassion.
I found identifying the way I react to stress rather thought provoking. Mike explained that there are three ways people often deal with stress either through disassociation, attachment or aversion. Disassociation can be described as having complete apathy or numbness towards the stressful situation, however, this numbness can then be carried forward into circumstances that you would usually enjoy. Attachment was described as people who cling onto good times and are constantly longing for positive experiences from the past and not being in the present. I identified myself as being in the aversion group where I used to avoid stressful encounters by doing everything I could not to be in that similar situation again. These reactions to stress often become automatic but bringing awareness to these situations will allow us to respond mindfully, will help us to be fully present in the situation and reduce the physiological responses of dealing with stress. I know there have been times in the past when I have avoided certain situations because of a previous negative experience so I assumed a similar experience will bring about another negative encounter but my prediction was often wrong when I didn’t avoid the situation! How many times have you dreaded a certain event or experience but then actually enjoyed the thing you were trying to avoid?!
I chaired this webinar and afterwards I found myself looking for errors in my performance even though Mike and my colleagues praised me for the way I chaired the session. Luckily Mike’s session included a compassion meditation so I listened to this meditation again before going to bed. I have known for a long time that I am often my own worst enemy which I don’t think is uncommon because I know most people want to do their best which can therefore lead to us being overly self-critical. Funnily enough I think this was my most successful mediations to date and guess what? I wasn’t sat in my usual chair in the living room so perhaps this has become my “chair of despair” but I didn’t realise it until this evening.
I hope, like me, you are opening yourself up to mindfulness and now are starting to notice the ways it can enhance your life. At the moment I’m noticing small changes but as I have often identified and reassured pet/animal owners, that it is often the small changes that can sometimes lead to a larger overall effect in terms of animal husbandry and hopefully the same can be applied to mindfulness.