You might be thinking, “oh I can skip this one – it doesn’t apply to me.” But at times we all let pre-conceived opinions, judgements, or positions run the show. Subtle or not-so-subtle, these biases color our world, so it’s helpful to shine the light of mindfulness on them, and, if we can’t completely break free, at least loosen the grip these automatic thoughts have on our ability to let go.
What would it be like if you had a cartoon thought bubble over your head that everyone could read? Luckily your automatic thoughts are yours and yours alone.
Today’s letting go exercise: Let go of prejudice by practicing equanimity:
- Equanimity, the ability to keep an evenness of temper, even in stressful situations is one of the foundations of mindfulness and is a wonderful aid when you are trying to let go of a mindset that is causing you to suffer. Practicing equanimity brings peace of mind, and quiets the automatic tendency to label situations and people as good or bad, fortunate or unfortunate. With practice over time, equanimity can grow from a peaceful mind state to a solid trait that becomes more of a way of life, one that cannot be easily shaken.
- To build your equanimity muscle, start to notice the one-word labels you place on people or things as you go about your day. What would it be like if you had a cartoon thought bubble over your head that everyone could read? Luckily your automatic thoughts are yours and yours alone.
- Just note the words you use to label people and situations. Are they negative, harsh? It’s okay. Try not to add another layer of judgment by judging yourself.
- What is your emotional response to your automatic thoughts. Is there an urge to act on your judgment? Did the thought add tension to your body? heaviness to your heart? Is there a possibility you can soften the judgement? Think of the person or event in a more neutral light, even for a moment. Does this change your emotional response? Would it change your behavior?
Be kind to yourself as you practice letting go of prejudices and automatic thoughts. Chances are they developed as a means of self-protection, but letting go of these biases is called for when they keep us from feeling peaceful and practicing equanimity.
We wish you twenty minutes of mindfulness every day!
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