How does mindfulness help us in a time of personal crisis?
By Caryl and Harish Verma. Thanks to them.
The dictionary defines crisis as a turning point. It can be for the better, such as winning the lottery, or for worse, as in, losing a loved one.
Mindfulness prepares us with coping skills that enable us to handle a personal crisis. It does this through the understanding of mind control and through the Zen perspective.
We become aware of how our thoughts are manifestations of our ego and desires and how the mind uses these thoughts to control our actions. We are subject to mind control.
From the Zen perspective, there are helpful ways given to deal with a personal crisis. These include: examining our thoughts, expectations, change, and acceptance
When a personal crisis occurs, emotions overwhelm our mind’s thoughts. These emotions can take the form of excitement, anger, confusion, or panic. * In such a state, the mind can cause us to react in a way which can be detrimental to our well-being or to that of others. However, if we are mindful of where these emotional thoughts issue from, for example, from our fear, or our ego’s desires, we can readjust our thoughts and attitude to control our mind and subsequent actions. It is like taking a step back to assess the situation or detaching our self from the situation. When this happens, a truer picture of the crisis emerges so that we react appropriately.
In life, we tend to assume that our present job, health, and family will continue into the future, in the same manner, as it has in the past. These expectations are both rooted in the past and projected into the future. When a crisis interrupts this continuity and comfortable pattern of our life, it agitates the mind. We become uncertain. By keeping our mind on the “present “, we can control the mind’s tendency to dwell on the past and future. By doing this, we can minimize the anxiety of the future and the regrets of the past. This helps to stabilize our emotions so that we are better able to handle the shock or surprise of a personal crisis.
There are two types of worse crises. For those that we cannot change, such as, a death, we have to recognize the fact that we cannot change the outcome. We have to accept the situation as it is. The second type of worse crisis is one that we can change. Job loss, debt are examples of this.
When it comes to a crisis is for the better, we need to be careful in how the mind will want to control our actions by full filling the desires of the ego. A new job position, for example, can satisfy the desire to have power over others. The lottery winner will have the money to increase his possessions. It is important to remember, that all crisis situations do change because nothing is permanent.
*The mind of a normal human being comes with inherent defects such as anger, greed, jealousy, and pride. These “defects cause all agitations in our minds and disturb the inherent peace.