A few years ago, when I got into my car after teaching a yoga class, I was unlucky enough to discover shards of broken glass covering my passenger seat.
After a brief moment of confusion, I realized that someone had taken a screwdriver to the frame of the window and shattered the glass in an attempt to steal whatever they could find in my car.
After my mind caught up and I realized what happened, I reported the theft to the police and to the health club CEO. Both of them said to me, "how is it that you are so calm?"
Mahatma Ghandhi said, "I will not allow anyone to walk through my mind with their dirty feet."
I don't claim to be anything at all like Ghandhi but, I was also unwilling to allow anyone to walk through my mind and leave their muddy footprints. Taking a step back and pausing allowed me to put it all into perspective, and be happy that no one was hurt and the damage that was done could be fixed.
Had I reacted by taking it personally, indignantly cursing the unfairness of what had been "done to me", I would be allowing another person to determine my state of mind. Remembering that another person's actions have nothing to do with me, helps me to stay rooted in my own center as opposed to being yanked this way and that because of someone else's choices.
While I can't even imagine destructing someone else's property or stealing money from someone, I have been fortunate enough in my life to never be in a situation that required desperate measures such as those. Having compassion for the person who violated my property was another way that I could respond instead of reacting.
Baron Baptiste says, "We don't really have experiences in life, we have reactions to experiences." In other words, "things don't happen to us, they happen in and of themselves, and what we do is react to them."
If it had been someone else's car that was broken into, the experience of a broken window would be the same, but my reaction would be very different. So according to Baptiste, what we experience in our day to day lives are just a bunch of reactions. With this knowledge, we can choose our responses instead of reacting out of habit. When we choose to live this way, our lives will be much more peaceful.
Choosing to stay and breathe and be non reactive doesn't mean that I live without feelings or emotions, but it means that I am responsible and able to make a choice of how to respond to the experiences in my life in a healthy and life affirming way.
The next time life hands you something that you wouldn't choose for yourself, remember the quote by Charles Swindoll that says, "life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it" . Choosing to respond in a non reactive way makes your inner and outer world more peaceful.
All Abhyasa Ahimsa Aparigraha Asmita-Ego Attachment Baron Baptiste Beginner's Mind Bramacharya Carl Jung Clear Seeing Colorless Comfortable Discomfort Creating Spaciousness In Mind And Body Cultivate The Opposite Deepak Chopra Dharma Empty Your Cup Enthusiasm Equanimity Family Fight Or Flight Great Vows Inner-awareness Inner Critic John Kabbatzinnb2faff332d Listening Mirrors To Ourselves Monkey Hunting Non Stealing Patanjali Pause Pillar Pleasure And Pain Posseses Us Practice Pratipaksa Bhavana Pratyahara Present Moment Present Moment Awareness Respond Instead Of React Samadhi Samskara Santosha Satya Sauca Sensual Pleasures Shadow Side Spirituality Steadiness And Ease Sthira And Sukha Strength Sustained Attention Svadhyaya There You Are Thich Nat Hahn This Too Shall Pass True Self Uncertainty Universal Truth What We Possess Wherever You Go Wisdom Yoga Philosophy Yoga Sutra 1. 14 Yoga Sutra 1.33 Yoga Sutra 2.33 Yoga Sutra 2 37cfe9965fa2 Yoga Sutra 2. 46 Yoga Sutras