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The Space Between

If you're like me, you will sometimes walk into the kitchen looking for something to eat, or grab your phone to look at your email or social media, and it doesn't even feel like you made the choice to do so! I believe this happens more than we would like to say. However, I find over and over again that the more we practice mindfulness the better we are at noticing such impulses as they arise, and then containing them. This is one of the transformative benefits of your mindfulness practices - greater containment of unconscious impulses.

Mindfulness creates a "space between." For example, the urge to seek something to snack on and abandoning my work at the computer. Awareness of mental events prior to the onset of action is experienced as a gap - a precious, powerful pause where choice can occur.

Containment does not mean suppression. We're not taking a hardline approach to behavior nor are we seeking to judge, deny, or ignore our impulses. Containment simply means that we use the gap opened up by mindful awareness to consciously choose our next course of action.

From a performance perspective, this is HUGE! Learning to thoughtfully relate to impulses, and developing the ability to choose whether to react to them or not, has immediate benefits in terms of containing impulsive distractions as one concentrates on the task at hand.

In the long run, this practice will enable choice to intervene between very, very, strong and sudden emotional impulses, and potentially volatile reactions to them. Everyone wins!

The next time an impulse arises for you, see if you can observe it with interest. Get curious about it! Notice how it occupies your body and compels action. There are always perfect little moments throughout our day to practice this stuff.

Choose to make yourself bigger than the energy driving the behavior.

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