Response versus Reaction

I've been having a few different thoughts rattle around my head as of late. Those special tangents of thought can be identified as they reoccur and seem to be broadcast back to you in various forms. Suddenly those thoughts are being voiced or discussed in the books you're reading, the podcasts you're listening to, or the conversations you're overhearing and/or having. These are the ones I try to be mindful of, the ones that seem ready to be explored further. It's a lesson, just waiting for you and sometimes the world can't make it more clear ... almost blaring at you “pursue this, go deeper into this”.

That being said, I continue to come back to the idea of responding versus reacting. Once you begin to be aware of the difference between these two ways of being life gets all the more interesting. This is not to say that mastery comes quickly with this realization. Moreover it just makes one take notice of how very often we are on autopilot. The reaction occurs far before any real mental faculty takes over; be it anger, sadness, retaliation, self-aggrandizement, boastfulness, or most any other emotional reaction. Actions occur outside of our selves, we react in a programmed manner, thus creating more external actions and reactions ... I feel like this is what so very much of daily interaction boils down to. There is little time given to taking in the external situation, processing it, and responding in the manner we might truly wish to respond in. To take this further it begins to erode the idea of free will or freedom in general. We are amazing reaction machines, boxed within the confines of “this happens therefore I do that, that happens so I do this”. We can all relate to the idea of having bad habits, bad patterns, negative issues which arise again and again, caught in the loop of our programming, caught in our own reactive personalities. We begin to question how we always end up back at the same point, having the same issue. At the very edge of making headway into all of this one can start to take note of the reactions, the patterns, the pitfalls of personality. This is a slow process. At the moment I find myself at the point of reacting, then in a split second taking notice of the reaction, trying to slow down and process, and then perhaps recanting on the reaction and coming back with an actual response. The aim I suppose would be to internally have the reaction and externally produce the response. Take a moment to digest the outer situation, and then portray the self that you wish to portray. It's far more difficult than we might think. After decades of simply running on auto-pilot now there's a glitch in the continuity, but in that hesitation, in that internal dialogue, this is where change can begin to occur.

All of this boils down to mindfulness. Taking notice of the self and the situations we inhabit. I've begun to meditate regularly, this is my ally in the battle of reaction versus response. Taking twenty minutes or so each day to be still, be quiet, and be with myself. There is no guideline, there is no perfect way to find your way. But ultimately this is something all of us can benefit from. In a world where we are constantly bombarded with media, interaction, distraction, noise, sensory overload, lack of nature, high stress, demands on time, deadlines, and so on, it seems all the more important to take that time within. The outer world gets so much of your energy, perhaps it's time to cultivate the inner world just a bit. This is work. It is not easy. I foresee decades ahead doing this work. But this is what I respect in others, a consistent attempt to better oneself. I do not mean bettering ones position in the external world. Make all the money, climb the ladder, acquire objects ... this is not the wealth I'm aiming at. Becoming a better person, more patient, more loving, more nurturing and understanding ... these are the riches I seek. Strengthening the core, strengthening your individual vibration ... this is not a selfish game, it is for the betterment of the whole and it's the only change which we truly have control over. Such control of course being contingent upon taking the time to be mindful, process, and respond.