There is a space between an event that occurs and how we interpret the event. This gap is imperceptible for people that are living unconsciously. You know the type: they go stumbling around their lives, bumping up against things unwanted, and react to everything. They take everything personally, internalizing everything in their outer world. It’s understandable because it’s survival. Most humans are operating from that base part of the brain leftover from ancient times.
I can see this in others because I was, and still can be, that unconscious person. But through daily meditation as well as applying as much knowledge as I can from more highly evolved people, I am learning to make that gap between stimulus and response wider. The wider the gap, the greater the power I have. This gap becomes a point where the power of choice is granted for me to be able to observe and respond, rather than be totally identified as the reaction.
A situation happened recently where I was able to see this play out in real time before my eyes. I received some unpleasant news regarding a subject I had a lot of negative energy towards. I was sitting at my computer when the text popped up on my screen. I read it and felt a rush of fear, judgment, anxiety, and displeasure flood through my body. Then my mind started a train of thought in reaction, but here’s where the magic happened. Immediately, I was able to witness the experience as if from a higher perspective. Amidst the flood of adrenaline, above the cascade of triggered thought, there was a gap of space. This gap gave me power to choose how I would respond instead of sending me into a tailspin for the rest of the day. The gap was a cushion that kept me level-headed. I was able to see that this was something that happened that was out of my control. My only control was how I could choose to manage myself in that moment. And I made a choice not to give my power away. To not believe my thoughts. To not take the situation personally, and to accept it. There was nothing I could do anyway.
In essence, I was like a non-stick pan. Something was thrown into it, but it didn’t stick. It floated on a thin surface of Teflon. The Teflon is the gap. As a result of having this new inner Teflon, I didn’t internalize the situation, the feelings, or make up stories that I made personal. I felt for the first time that this gap was the wall of my internal boundary system that I was establishing as a result of meditation and mindfulness.
It’s a subtle practice, but powerful. I invite you to try it. First with easy situations; the minor annoyances we all come up against daily like traffic and lines and lost mail. Feel into the gap, and be very alert. Triggering events happen all the time. Set an intention to welcome the next one and see if you can create the gap between reaction and response. Take your power back. This is one more step to unconditional living, which is true freedom. To live without resistance to what is, to accept every moment and situation as if you had chosen it, to not take anything personally, and to control your thinking, means you are invincible. And you are, you’ve just forgotten that. Welcome back.