We've all experienced the sickening effect of some shocking event, a nasty surprise, or other unexpected turn that life can take.
Though we can't know what's around the corner, we can help ourselves by being aware of the fact that we can learn how to respond in a way that lessens the impact.
That's what this morning's piece is about.
" He lay flat on the bank. The surrounding grass and ferns afforded cover. The road running below him was clear in his view. The butt of the rifle sat into his shoulder, snug, the barrel steady on the small tripod.
The quiet rumble of the vehicles coming into view around the bend belied the threat and the firepower they possessed. He knew that the first three were outriders, light armoured cars with shortarms, ready to attack and repel, maneouvereable and fast, easily handled and a good foil for enemy engagement.
He let the first three through, settled the sight against his eye and waited. The target was in the sixth.
He had done his homework, studied the routine, timed it, watched it, had done two dry runs. He was known for that; planning. He knew it himself. It was the reason that his work was so highly prized. And paid.
The fourth came into view, a larger vehicle, fully closed, with a short thick barrel jutting from the turret, moving slightly as the gunner scanned the road and ditches through the sight.
He watched the vehicle run steadily past, clocking the fifth as it emerged from the bend and rumbled under his place.
Taking a long sigh, he settled. This was his reward for painstaking preparation; certitude. Resting his finger on the trigger, he sighted the long bend from which the sixth, his target, would come.
This was so simple, he thought. Get all the information, gather it and collate it in view of your aims, and then just go to work, turn up, and get the job done. So simple. He loved that feeling of confidence he had in his work. It let him rest easy, dismiss distractions and focus his abilities and training on the job in hand.
The rifle felt good. He knew the kind of recoil to expect. If he did have to use two rounds, he had allowed for the trajectory, the pace of the car, and the shift in the firing angle.
Nothing came into view through his calibrated sight.
He consciously relaxed, allowing the instinctive ruffle of annoyance to run from his system as he viewed the empty road.
Any second now, and the sixth vehicle would cruise into view, exactly as he expected it would. He was thinking how these clowns in their self-important uniforms and pageantry thought that they were efficient, just because they ticked boxes and followed the rules of engagement. They imagined that they were invulnerable. And that was their mistake, he thought; there are no rules of engagement.
Still no car appeared from the bend. Through the crosshairs of the sight was the high hedge on one side of the bend, the sycamore trees on the other, and the road.
The empty road.
Then his attention was diverted by something for which he had not planned.
He consciously relaxed, quelling the instinct to turn, to look, willing himself to not react, as the hard metal touched lightly behind his ear and the calm authoritative voice said simply, 'Don't move'. "
It happens to us all, doesn't it? We make the best of plans. Then something goes awry. Our expectations get kicked into the air and we can crash into a storm of frustration, anger, disappointment, fear.
And that's when the adage we've all come to learn comes into play; 'It isn't so much about what happens to us, as it is about how we respond to what happens to us.'
That's when the training we've used can help us adapt to a sudden turn of events, when we can call on latent resources, personal qualities, the innate knowledge that these will occur in our lives.
And while that may not give us a way out at the moment, it does plant the notion that this can be dealt with, redirects the mind, instantly, in that direction, and helps prevent panic and subsequent overwhelm.
This is one of the reasons why institutions, companies, teams, individuals, in any field of endeavour, are paying attention to the skill of self-development in the realm of Mindful Awareness.
It helps harness the faculty of clearer thinking in life, in work, especially in times of potentially stressful moments.
It's a skill that can be learned, practised and applied.
You don't have to rush off to the Himalayas, sit on mountain tops, don robes and sandals, or study Sanskrit for 20 years, to learn this technique.
We all have the ability within us to do this. There'll be more about learning this valuable resource in coming mails...
Stay in touch.