Non Reactivity – Practice

I’m trying to practice non-reactivity and I find it very difficult. It is split into four lessons: Non-reactivity to body sensation, to sound, to thought and finally to feelings.

Body sensations – almost every session I find myself aching or itching, want to move myself to a more comfortable position or simply scratch. Eventually, as mindfulness suggest, everything passes, even the most persistent each. You need to make a note and let it pass. Problem is that if the itch is too strong I can’t simply nod it off – it’s painful. In the time during a session when it itches I find myself going back to the itch over and over. It’s hard to concentrate that way. I do progress though, at the beginning I had to move and each, and now I can sit still and not each during the entire meditation.

Sounds – I find it easier to get over sound and not get distracted to much by sounds. One thing is that if the sound is loud and very sudden I get startled, my heart start pumping, simulating the same reaction my body has when anxious or stressed. Take a little while to get back to the breathing and let my pulse get back to normal.

Thought – At the beginning this was the hardest thing to control. Thoughts come and go, and the bad ones just stay there, make you more anxious. Endless thoughts that seems to be extremely important, and I have to pursue them or they will be lost forever, seems to come exactly when I need to be focused on the now, on my breathing, on anything but them. Every thought just stayed there, making me more anxious, more stressed. I couldn’t count the seconds until the session would be over, in order to write down everything. I wrote them down, everything that I remembered. I put a pen and paper near me because I knew that I’ll become anxious to write. Slowly I saw that some thoughts repeat themselves, some thoughts are the same thoughts that I think when not meditating. Slowly, I could let go and focus on the breathing, on the now. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still hard, some thoughts cling, some thoughts make me a little anxious, but I can note them and let them pass. Sometimes a little label help ‘worries’, ‘thoughts about the future’, etc. I try to note them, not ignoring them (especially the bad ones), and let them go, let them drift away while I focus back on my breathing. It’s not easy, but it’s becoming easier.

Emotions – The hardest no doubt about it. I am always stressed. Most of the time I’m stressed but not in a sense of panic, but in a sense of being alert, always suspecting something to go wrong, one might call it ‘survival mode’. It’s very hard to put this emotion aside and surrender to the now during meditations. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t alert that something might go wrong, that things won’t go as planned. When any event rises, let’s say a thought or sound, I can be non-reactive to it, but usually the process will cause stress to rise, just from being alert that this time I might not be able to be non-reactive to the event. Being non-reactive to one event triggers another event which is harder to ignore.

When I’m anxious I’m trying to meditate, and during the process of the meditation other events might cause me more stress and anxiety. There were times, not too many, that I think I ended the meditation with more anxiety than when I started.

Hope that it will become easier as I practice more.

Mindfulness

For the past 3 weeks I’m trying to practice mindfulness, mainly to reduce my (high level of) stress that I experience on a day to day basis. I’ve found the following definition of mindfulness that I like:

Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

I find the practice hard, almost in every aspect:

focusing one’s awareness on the present moment

for me, someone who is also in constant thought, a lot about the past (regrets, replay of events) and the future (the ‘what-if’ never-ending thoughts), focusing on the present moment,on mundane things like your breath, body scan, etc, is extremely difficult. I find myself lost in thought over and over again, and sometimes even getting more stressed about not succeeding in what should be a very simple task.

calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations

Considering that I’m trying to reduce stress levels, and as I have mentioned I am mostly stressed throughout the day, calmly doing anything is hard, especially when trying to stay focused in the present moment.

Not only that, I need to accept all the feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations? Just the thought of that made me stress at the beginning. It’s hard to express in writing how hard it is to accept ones thoughts and feeling in such a manner. I’m trying to get rid of stress, and in mindfulness I need to accept it and let it pass by me while focusing on the present.

I found it impossible at the beginning, and achievable but extremely hard now and for a limited time.

I hope it’ll be easier as time passes by. One thing that I read throughout all the mindfulness articles and Youtube videos is that you need to be persistent, that things will be easier. Well, I can be stubborn, and even with my pessimistic habits, I’ll keep trying more and more.