One of the wonderful by-products of extended periods of retreat is increased mindfulness. Almost a month after my annual 8-day silent retreat, I still experience the fruits of the extended period of meditation and prayer.
What that means, as a practical matter, is that I can see earlier than I might otherwise the ego arising to take over my reaction and response to situations.
This evening I was having a conversation with my husband about something that was causing great discord in me. I could see, as I was talking with him, how my reaction and response to the issue was shaped by the sense of my ego being bruised by the way someone was (indirectly) treating me.
I’m not going to say that I was sufficiently mindful to completely avoid being carried away by the emotion of the moment. But I could as I said earlier than I otherwise would have, see what was happening. Once I could see that, I could take a deep breath – OK a few deep breaths – and (admittedly with the help of my husband’s counsel) think about strategies that might alleviate the discord in an authentic way.
Things will arise that threaten our ego in various ways. The issue is how we will respond. And how we respond is very much affected by the level of mindfulness we bring to situations.
We all need to find ways to become more mindful, not just of what is going on around us, but by what is happening with us, moment by moment.