Introspection distances us from our situations and our emotions
Sometimes, people do things that provoke us, and we react angrily. But our kneejerk reaction only worsens the situation, which we realize after the passage of some time, say, a day. The distance created by time gives us a perspective that we didn’t have earlier.
Can we get that perspective real-time – can we distance ourselves from situations while they are occurring? Yes, through introspection. Generically, introspection refers to looking inwards for understanding our inclinations, inspirations, emotions and so forth. Gita wisdom guides our introspection to focus on who we really are: eternal spiritual beings, parts of the supreme spiritual being, Krishna. This implies that we are distinct from whatever material situations we may find ourselves in and whatever emotions those situations may trigger in our minds. The Bhagavad-gita indicates that our emotions are frequently default psychological reactions triggered by the modes of material nature that are circumstantially affecting us at that particular moment (14.22). When our introspection situates us in our spiritual identity, we stay steady amidst our circumstantial emotions (14.23). We don’t let our situations or their consequent emotions determine our actions.
Isn’t such introspection difficult in the moment of provocation? Yes, but it becomes easier if we cultivate a habit of introspectiveness through regular Gita study and other bhakti-yoga practices. Such practices reinforce our conviction that we are always meant to serve Krishna. This intrinsic function of service remains unchangeable, no matter what situations or emotions come upon us. When we work with a devotional service attitude, divine grace reassures us amidst provocation: we are always safe in our spiritual relationship with our Lord. This reassurance dissipates the emotional fog in our inner world and helps us reason towards the best response.
When we thus distance ourselves from our situations and emotions, we can respond intelligently, not react impulsively.
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