The Ripple Effect
When teaching Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, we often remark that becoming aware of our reactions and attitudes is the first step in being able to make more conscious choices about them. We start with something simple like standing in line, which we usually find annoying, finding ourselves impatiently thinking of all the other things we could be doing and perhaps even having unkind thoughts about other folks in the store. Once we are aware of this and know it is causing a surge of stress hormones and a feeling of irritation, we can redirect our thoughts to the feeling of our feet on the floor, our legs standing strong, maybe do a few shoulder rolls, look at the interesting sights around us, and greet someone else in line. We can recognize that we are all in this together with other people. We can practice the “you-never-have-to-wait-in-line-again-Yoga pose.” Actively choosing to focus our attention on positive aspects of this moment and relax our body through gentle, subtle movements, changes the way we are experiencing this moment. It no longer has to be unpleasant , and it is empowering to see that we are completely in charge of this! Then when we get up to the front of the line, we can spread this feeling of peace and openness instead of spreading our frustration. This creates a positive ripple effect, which may spread to the person behind the counters’ children and their friends and all the people they come in contact with.
The recent earthquake in Japan and resulting Tsunami has really brought this home, as people along the California and Oregon Coast prepared for these giant waves -and damage was done so very far away from the epicenter of the quake. Every time I think about it, and pray about it, I am so aware of the connectedness of us all through this event; through the waves of water traveling such long distances. It has made me wonder about the impact of the smallest of my actions on those around me and on those I don’t know, on future generations. It motivates me to live more mindfully every moment.
Our April 16th Day of Mindfulness Meditation and Yoga Retreat in Rancho Mirage, CA will be dedicated to the folks in Japan and all funds raised will be sent to them through relief organizations. Go to www.mindful-way.com/retreats to enroll .