When I was in my twenties, I was prescribed my first dose of Prozac. After a few weeks of acclimating to the drug, I became aware of the effect it was having on my view of reality during a particularly unique trip to the grocery store. Upon returning to the car with our groceries, we discovered a hand-scrawled note on the windshield, accusing us of “hitting and scratching” some anonymous individual’s vehicle.
They claimed to have our license plate and threatened to call the police on us if we need not call the number provided and offer some sort of reparations. Where previously this type of event would cause my anxiety to spike and certainly provoke both a physical and emotional response, I felt nothing. Clearly, this was a hoax, and I needed to pay it no further attention. The immense sense of relief I felt at that moment is indescribable.
Released from my own mental cage of anxiety, I was free to walk about the cabin unencumbered with fear that the next thing my reality threw at me would result in my utter emotional destruction. It felt like freedom.
Exercise: Living with Mindfulness
If there are times throughout your day in which you find yourself feeling any of the following emotions: stress, frustration, anger, fear, exhaustion, despair, or worry take a moment to do the following exercise to bring more mindful awareness into your present moment.
Take a moment to bring your awareness to your breathing. Take as much time as you need to calm your physical reaction to the emotion. This will allow you to detach yourself from the physicality of the emotion to thoughtfully examine the situation and give you the opportunity to understand what it can teach you about yourself.
Essentially, when you feel your emotions taking over your thoughts as well as your physical body, it’s time to step away and look at the situation from another perspective. By bringing your awareness into the present and giving yourself the opportunity to view the situation in a non-judgmental and accepting manner you can respond mindfully, rather than reacting emotionally.