The second arrow ……

In the past couple of weeks had the great privilege to do further professional development with my teacher, Judith Hanson Lassater in San Francisco. There training was in communication and therapeutic restorative yoga.

This trip did present me with a few opportunities to put the main practice of responding and not reacting. Generally, it is what we do after an event that can move a situation into the territory of suffering.

The Buddhist parable highlights this,

“If you get struck by an arrow, do you then shoot another arrow into yourself?” – Buddha

While in San Francisco, I had a couple of incidents that really tested this practice of not shooting the second arrow. First instance, I was woken (no, shaken) out of bed by an earthquake. A small one in the local terms. Second instance was being in the middle of the bomb scare at the San Francisco Airport.

arrowBoth times, my body tensed, my heart raced, my hands were shaky (pretty much all the symptoms I get when I have had one too many cups of coffee). Added on top to these cocktail of physical sensations were the feeling of fear, anxiety and excitement. My second arrow here is getting hooked on to thoughts like ” What if a bigger earthquake happens?”, ” What is I miss my plane?”, ” What if I don’t see my family again?” . These are just a small example of thoughts running through my anxious mind. When I did catch the second arrow, the ease could also co-exist with the other feelings. The body relaxes somewhat.

The second arrow sustains the bodies’ physiological response to stress, the opposite to the relaxation response; moving stress to the region of distress. I am sure I am not the only one that shoot a second arrow into myself after an event or situation (the first arrow). It is humanly impossible to stop the second arrow from shooting every time. However, we can develop resources to prevent or catch the second arrow. Here are some of my resources that I use.

Resource 1

: awareness of bodily sensation

Resource 2

: practice self-empathy

Resource 3

: lengthening out exhalation

What resources do you use to prevent or catch the second arrow?

Do share them below!

One Response to The second arrow ……

  1. rrrrr September 1, 2017 at 7:12 pm #


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