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Home / Articles / Columnists / On the Bright Side /  Human (create space) Being
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Tuesday, January 3,2012

Human (create space) Being

By Jonna Shutowick. M.S. Ed.  
I am learning how to create space between stressful situations (human) and my reactions to them (being). This is not an easy process. It takes a level of awareness that even under normal circumstances is largely dormant or unconscious. Add a charged emotional state and awareness becomes even more elusive. Let’s face it, on a daily basis we experience stressful encounters. Under duress, defensiveness is our go-to guide and the sign reads: “Danger, Beware!”. To beware means to be wary; to be careful. In other words, expect danger. Uncomfortable conversations with people who make us upset create anxiety and our participation in the interaction is rooted in fear; fear of being wrong, fear of being embarrassed, fear of being disappointed. Being aware, on the other hand, asks us to simply have awareness, taking expectations out of the equation. We must be aware to be wary, but wariness is not a prerequisite for awareness. Awareness can be viewed as wariness without the anxiety.

Bringing awareness to stressful interactions with others creates space between us and the situation allowing room for just being. A fail-safe way to insert space between yourself and a situation is to breathe. Breathing causes us to pause, thus creating space. This creates inaction - a stoppage of action; rather than reaction - a continuation of action. When human beings are busy being human (reacting), the being gets lost in the doing. Taking a moment to focus on breathing gives us time to observe the situation without reacting to it.

As observers we have time to notice how our blood pressure may be going up in anticipation of the interaction about to occur, or to notice that, “Yes, I am stressed because that stomach ache that always accompanies this discussion is here.” An observer has time to remind him or herself that what is happening is not personal. The ego of one person is trying to get the attention of the other. Observers have time to breathe and think, “I will not allow my ego into this conversation.” When your ego is not invited to the party, all the negativity it thrives on remains at bay allowing room for joy, or, if that is not available, at the very least peaceful coexistence.

Lucky for me I am offered no shortage of opportunities to practice this exercise. Between raising two teenagers, teaching more teenagers all day, and living within walking distance of my husband’s entire extended family, I am practically a monk in training. Learning to put space between my human and my being has taken at least one player out of the ego game. And it does take two to Tango. So what does simply being present offer to those around us?... (Hint: What is another word for present?)....a gift! I have little doubt that the recent holiday season presented each of us with the gift of reminding us what pushes our buttons. With the New Year upon us, why not resolve to recognize the button pushers in your life and begin practicing awareness in those moments. Namaste.


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