Between stimulus and response there is a space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
– Victor Frankl
Haven’t there been times when you just needed to stop what you were doing and get some “breathing space”?
With the holidays fast approaching, it seemed like a good time to stop and share a breathing exercise to help retain or regain our equilibrium.
The practice below comes from Dave Potter who is a certified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction instructor, who received his training through the University of Massachusetts Medical School where Jon Kabat-Zinn founded the Center for Mindfulness.
He provides a great way to step out of automatic pilot mode and move into the present moment to reconnect with our natural resilience and wisdom.
We are simply tuning in to what is happening right now, without expectation of any particular result.
If you remember nothing else, just remember the word “STOP”.
S – Stop and take Stock / Checking in to Head/Heart/Body
Bring yourself into the present moment by deliberately asking, “What is my experience right now”?
What are you saying to yourself, and what images are coming to mind?
What are you feeling and what sensations are being experienced?
Acknowledge and register your experience, even if it is uncomfortable.
T – “Take” a Breath / Directing awareness to Breathing
Gently direct full attention to breathing, to each in breath and to each outbreath as they follow, one after the other.
Your breath can function as an anchor to bring you into the present and help you tune into a state of awareness and stillness.
O – Open and Observe / Expanding awareness outward
Expand the field of your awareness around and beyond your breathing, so that it includes a sense of the body as a whole, your posture, and facial expression, then further outward to what is happening around you: sights, sounds, smells, etc.
As best you can, bring this expanded awareness to the next moments.
P – Proceed / new Possibilities Continuing without expectation
Let your attention now move into the world around you, sensing how things are right now.
Rather than react habitually/mechanically, you can be curious/open, responding naturally. You may even be surprised by what happens next after having created this pause.
What practice helps you to avoid unconsciously reacting, and choosing a better response as a result?
What positive words would you use for S.T.O.P? I like Serenity, Tranquility, Optimism and Power.
Thank you for sharing this beautiful exercise, dear Cathie!
Exactly those practices help me, too, with choosing actions instead of reactions, and it is great to see them put into words like this as I was not familiar with Mr. Potter’s work.
I like the positive words you chose for the letters of the word “stop” very much.
For fun I picked some, that were not yet listed, above:
S.T.O.P. = Stillness, Transformation, Opportunity, Peace.
Much Love – and enjoy your stops along the way,
Hello Dear Steffi, So nice to read your positive and uplifting comments! Love your words chosen for STOP as well. Glad you enjoyed the post, and engage in the practices outlined within it. It definitely helps with keeping the peace both inside and out! Always a treat to hear from you. I plan to visit your wonderful blog soon too. Blessings, Cathie