It is hard to believe and perhaps comprehend how big a difference taking a moment before reacting to a word, action, statement, or a situation and reacting or responding to it can make. Many spiritual leaders have talked about this and taught how to cultivate this capability. In his ‘Thought for the Day’ Shri Easwaran addresses this. I have included his message below and hope you will find it useful reading.
A desire arises in the mind. It is satisfied; immediately another comes. In the interval which separates two desires a perfect calm reigns in the mind. It is at this moment freed from all thought, love or hate. Complete peace equally reigns between two mental waves.
– SWAMI SIVANANDA
Through meditation and the practice of disciplines such as slowing down and keeping the mind one-pointed, we can learn to do something that sounds impossible: when thoughts are tailgating each other, we can slip into the flow of mental traffic, separate thoughts that have locked bumpers, and slowly squeeze ourselves in between.
It sounds terribly daring – the kind of stunt for which professionals in the movies are paid in six figures. Yet we can learn to step right in front of onrushing emotional impulses such as fury and little by little, inch by hard-won inch, start pushing them apart. This takes a lot of solid muscle in the form of willpower; but just as with muscles, we can build up willpower with good, old-fashioned practice.
Once you can do this you will find that there is not the slightest connection between another person’s provocation and your response. There seemed to be a connection because your perceptions were crowding together. Now that those thoughts have been separated – even for a hair’s breadth – your response has lost its compulsive force.