Reaction Reflection

Suan Lahu

Give Me a Handful of Coffeebeans, I'll Show You the World

This morning on “Being” the show on NPR hosted by Krista Tippett, Sylvia Boorstein was interviewed and she has this great reflection that she uses when she finds herself “reacting” to some situation in her life.  I love it.  Especially the “sweetheart” part.  Calling myself “sweetheart” makes me smile.  How you say this to yourself is also important.  If you listen to her say it, you will understand the motherly way that she does it.  Not patronizing or condescending, but full of love and compassion.  It’s near the end of the interview, just in the last few minutes.


You’re in pain,

Relax take a breath,

Let’s pay attention to what’s happening,

Then we’ll figure out what to do!

And I love that it really brings compassion / lovingkindness meditation into the moment.  Let’s break it down:  sweetheart  – immediately we remind ourselves to love ourselves.  There’s something about that word that is like us as a child melting into our mothers arms and her saying, sweetheart, it’s going to be alright! You’re in pain – It comes from the fact that mentally clinging to anger, irritation, annoyance causes ourselves mental pain.  The recognition of our own suffering is the baseline for the development of compassion and understanding.  Relax, take a breath – Coming back to the breath is what we do in the formal meditation practice when we find ourselves getting caught up in a “story”.   It helps us to recognize the physical tension in our body that we are creating with our mind and reminds us to let it go.  And the exhaled, sighing breath assists us in letting go.  Let’s pay attention to what’s happening – Once we calm our body and mind, we can be more clear about the reality about what is happening at the moment and see it in a more dispassionate way.  When we let go of the emotion around a situation and just see it for what it is, we can make better decisions, which of course leads to the final sentence in this mantra.  Then we’ll figure out what to do – Patience, putting space in between an event and our reaction to it can help us to have more compassionate, conscious reactions to situations.  We can understand what is happening more clearly and then act in a way that creates less dissonance, less difficulty, less pain and suffering, and more peace in ourselves and others.

Thank you Sylvia for this offering!

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