3 Reasons Why Practicing Non-Reaction Can Positively Transform Your Life
Life can be looked at as a series of experiences that create contrast and perspective, if you choose to view them that way. Contrast means you are alive; we all have ups and downs.
Perspective is how you handle the roller coaster called life. Another component is reaction. Non-reaction is an aspect of the yoga practice described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras as chitta vritti nirodha, or cease to identify with the fluctuations of the mind.
When you are able to decrease or cease identifying with all the stories and fabrications of the mind, self-doubt and self-judgment are reduced, as well as judgment and comparison to others.
Why? Because judgment and comparisons are reactions to stories that we ourselves create inside our minds.
With time and consistency, transformation is possible from a place of reaction and attachment, to a place of conscious-action and non-reaction.
Here are three reasons practicing non-reaction can positively transform your life, and some guidelines for how to incorporate this practice today.
Reactions are based on past conditioning.
All of your experiences, from early childhood to adolescence and into adulthood have molded you into the reactive (or non-reactive) person that you are today.
If reactions are involuntary (meaning you react automatically and without forward thinking), then the result your reactions will always be the same kind of response.
However, when infused with mindfulness and careful re-conditioning it is possible to come to a place of non-reaction. This is a powerful tool so as to maintain a level of contentment whether things are really awesome in your life right now, or terribly difficult.
Realizing that contrast is a spice of life, and enjoying a state of contentment, whether you are going through the ringer or winning the lottery, will maintain a level of satisfaction for all of your days.
Reactions separate you from others.
Practicing non-reaction helps deepen the connection you have with yourself, as well as to others. Another yogic principle that is applicable for this practice is Vairagya, or non-attachment. When you are attached to others’ responses or reactions, you place expectations on that person.
When our expectations are not fulfilled we may feel disappointed or upset. In my own life I came to realize that I had expectations and attachments that directly correlated to my personal happiness, and when something didn’t go my way or wasn’t done to my standard, it would negatively impact my experience.
After discovering ways to practice non-attachment and non-reaction, I learned that I am in charge of the ways that I react to the experiences in my life and that even when the going gets tough I can choose to stay positive and move forward.
I also learned that when I’m on cloud 9, it is a wonderful feeling, and I am so grateful for those times, but it is important to keep a level head that life is constantly changing and evolving.
I’ve become committed to continuously moving forward having enjoyed some great experiences and applying the lessons learned from the process.
In this way you are not separate, above, or less than anyone else. We all have a story, we all go through tough times, and we all have reasons to celebrate.
Consistency in practice begins transformation.
I believe that steadfastness in practice leads to congruency and continuity in life. What I mean is, incorporating the yogic principle of Abhyasa, or persistent practice and effort in the direction of a goal, is a way to facilitate personal transformation from a reactive individual, to someone who consistently practices non-reaction.
Consistency was key for me as I built trust within my community of family and friends.
I would temper my old and automatic responses to expectations and attachments, and began to shift towards a more balanced state of conscious-action and non-reaction.
Over time and deliberate effort (Abhyasa), I have come to a place where positive response and conscious action are natural for me, and old triggers for negative reactions have reduced significantly.
I rarely feel triggered by things that used to drive me crazy because I’ve identified that my attachments, expectations, and reactions would perpetuate whatever it was that I felt triggered by.
Mindfulness (conscious awareness of what is really present in each moment) has created the ability to separate what’s in the past from what is current and present in my life in the moment.
This paved the way for me to recognize automatic reactionary responses from past conditioning and has led to personal transformation.
Experience the transformation
Non-reaction is separate from not feeling. It is important to have healthy emotional well-being as an aspect of this practice, since confronting how you feel and the ability to kindly express yourself are critical tools for interpersonal relationships.
However, if you are confronted by someone or something in a way that triggers a reaction, the practice of non-reaction is to identify the trigger and your automatic response before the response occurs.
This leads to creating an opportunity to learn from that reaction and where it comes from – making the situation a lesson for growth.
Discover how past conditioning has manifested itself in your present reactions, and take responsibility for how your reactions influence your experiences.
Then make a consistent effort to temper reactionary responses and come from a place of non-reactivity in order to avoid responding in an automatic way.
Become fully present with how you can positively impact a situation if you respond from a place of conscious decision rather than natural reaction.
Without attachment to expectation or outcome, see how your life transforms! Frame your experiences positively in your mind, even the challenging ones, as opportunities to keep learning and growing.
Give yourself the space and time to embody this shift in behavior and enjoy the beautiful personal transformation as it occurs.
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