“By detachment I mean that you must not worry whether the desired result follows from your action or not, so long as your motive is pure, your means correct… a person who is worried about the outcome of his work does not see his goal, he sees only his opposition and the obstacles before him, feeling unequal to the difficulties of his situation, he becomes resigned or resorts to violence out of frustration and despair. But the man who is detached from results and tries only to do his best without thought of profit or power or prestige does not waver when difficulties come.”           – Eknath Easwaran


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Emotions are powerful forces that are difficult to ignore. Fortunately evolution has provided us with one advantage over our sympathetic responses, the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe is associated with executive functioning. This includes “identifying problems, making decisions, planning, staying focused on a task, adapting flexibly to changing situations, controlling impulses, and regulating emotions and behavior.” [i]

This higher center of the brain provides us with the capacity to CHOOSE; to choose to delay gratification, to choose not to act on an impulse. Although it provides us with that ability, that doesn’t make it easy to do. To simply react requires no mindful thought. All you have to do to have a sympathetic response is whatever comes naturally. You reaction will pretty much happen without you needing to think about it. If you don’t like how your reaction makes you feel, makes you act towards others, or its consequences, then you have to make the conscious effort to behave differently.

This choice may sound simple, but that does not make it easy. Initially, you have to resist a reaction that feels natural and happens automatically. You have to tolerate the feelings that normally trigger that behavior and choose not to react based on them. You have to accept that just because you feel that way does not mean you have to act based on that reaction. For example, just because you feel upset or angry, that does not mean you have to yell, lash out, or withdraw. You can feel the feeling and the desire to react, and choose not to react. You can choose not to judge yourself too harshly and forgive yourself for having that feeling. After all, we all have those feelings sometimes. Only after you resist the reaction, and forgive yourself for wanting to act on it can you choose a different course of action. Now that you are not reacting, you can mindfully choose an action that you believe is the right choice, and that is more in line with who you want to be and how you want to act.


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“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”                  – Anonymous


[i] Zelazo, Philip David (2005, July 29). Executive function part four: Brain growth and the development of executive function. About Kids Health, Article 4365. Retrieved July 31, 2007, from http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/ofhc/news/SREF/4365.asp


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