Chapter 4 - The Difference Between Seeing And Observing
The more knowledge I acquired about the functionality of my brain and its corresponding effects on the way I lived my life, the more it became clear that my circumstances had very little to do with how my present was sculpted. I still had one thing that was under my control, a game-changer: The Freedom To Choose! As simple as it sounds, this power remains dormant for most of us as we tend to succumb to our circumstances. I like Jay Shetty's simple yet profound 3 step solution: Spot, Stop, and Swap that can be used to observe our behavioral patterns and make changes to them if necessary. The key here is to observe; our habits, our expressions, emotions, our reactions, and responses. I needed some framework here to start looking inward to rewire and replace some of the outdated software that was slowing me down. I started off by listening to a podcast titled Secular Buddhism by Noah Rasheta. The first episode of this podcast is 24 minutes long and there are some that go on for 50-90 mins. My first reaction to the length of the podcast made me doubt my own commitment to the cause that led me to the podcast. I am on the 72nd episode now and I am very positive that I'll cover all the 144 episodes that Noah has recorded. The insights that I have got from reading about mindfulness and introducing some of its practices in my life are enormous. I turned to yoga to learn more about meditation, to upskill myself, to be more observant, and to shift my focus on knowing myself. I learned that I had been spending a lot of time seeing things rather than observing them. With consistent practice and dedication, I am making progress in this area and now I am able to observe some of the fundamental things that had remained unnoticed till now. I don't get angry that often, I am able to show compassion towards the people who've wronged me at some point, I am more humble than before, and most important of all, I am happier and more peaceful than ever. Response to Stimulus: This is an inbuilt feature in humans where we respond in a particular way without making any conscious attempt. There are many biological examples of this feature right from the way we fling our hand away as we touch a hot plate, how our pupils dilate or constrict depending on the availability of light in the room, how we get goosebumps when we feel cold, if someone swings in front of eyes, we tend to blink, etc. When put in simple words, my reaction is actually based on the causes and conditions that triggered them and if I am able to increase the gap between stimulus and my reaction, I think I would be able to respond more skilfully. Now, I am nowhere thinking of holding a hot pan or something but what I do intend to control through mindfulness is my response associated with events such as someone yelling at me, someone lying to me, someone being cruel to another living being, or similar unpleasant situations. In the upcoming blogs, I am going to start sharing some before and after effects of learning this new skill of spotting, stopping, and swapping my behaviors.
~ Anila Andezhath