Periphery vs. Center
There is a feeling people falsely induce within themselves to reach present”ness”. It’s the feeling thrill seekers get when they race cars or bungee jump. It’s the feeling a victim feels when being chased while running for survival. The feeling I’m referring to is what thrill seekers call “being alive” and victims call “flight response”: acting from within your center. Many people do not know that there is such a place to act from, but subconsciously they feel the difference between acting from their center and acting from what’s called the periphery.
Think of center and periphery as two circles. The outer circle is the periphery and the circle within the periphery is the center. Most people live on the periphery, which is to say they live through reactions. If a person cuts you off in traffic, nearly hitting you, what do you feel and how do you respond? Do you feel anger, trespassed against, or vengeful? Your reactions that follow: cursing, tailgating, light flashing, or even retelling the story to a friend, come from the negative emotions you feel and are reactionary – a response to outside stimuli. This is living on the periphery and being a slave to circumstance.
Think back to the driver who cut you off or to whatever situation that last made you feel a negative emotion. Can you still conjure up the negative emotion? Would you still justify your reaction? If so, you are allowing yourself to indentify with the negativity, even becoming it. And that’s how people get stuck on the periphery.
So how do you live from your center? It takes time and practice. Next time you feel a negative emotion, meditate before you react. For example, if someone cuts you off in traffic and anger washes over you, instead of reacting by flashing your lights or yelling, take a moment to acknowledge the anger. Maybe you tell yourself “If I act out now, I will only be acting from my periphery. This feeling is anger, but I am not anger.” From there, letting go of negativity becomes easier. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t meditate or realize you acted out of anger after the fact. This training of mindfulness takes time because up until this point, you’ve been acting on the periphery your whole life, and retraining your brain won’t happen over night.
But though the focus of this post has been about not reacting to negative emotions, this process will eventually lead you to stop reacting to a multitude of emotions. Happiness, excitement, jealousy, fear. You’ll find that reactions will be dropped and finally you’ll be able to act from your center by living life through actions not reactions.
If you have any questions on this process, please leave a comment.