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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

How to Break Free from Life's Irritations

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Aug 31st 2010

There is a story that a recent student of mine shared with me on working with irritations in life. Here is my adaptation of the story.

One day, Krishnamurti, a teacher and philosopher, was eating lunch with his students when one student got up to close the window. Krishnamurti asked why he did that and the student replied, “the sound from outside was annoying and making it difficult for me to enjoy conversation with my friends.” To this, Krishnamurti replied, “You have a habit of irritation.”

The student quizzically responded, “Yes I was irritated, what should I have done about it.” Krishnamurti said, “Your irritation is a habit that expands beyond the walls of this room and windows and invades your everyday life and there is a way move beyond this.”

The student was interested in not being captive by his habit energy of irritation and so again asked the teacher what he should do about it.

Krishnamurti said, “It will take 3 days to rid yourself of this habit energy.”

Day 1: Spend the entire day focusing on what it is like to be irritated. Notice in the morning, afternoon and evening. What does it feel like in your body? What kind of thoughts arise in the mind? Become intimate with the feeling of irritation, get to know it, befriend it.

Day 2: Spend the entire day noticing irritation in others. Look for it, what does it look like on their faces and their body language. Notice the tone of voice that is used and what kind of language comes out of the mouth. What behavior comes from this emotional space of irritation? Study it.

Day 3: Notice the recession of irritation in yourself.

The student decided to try it out and became intimate with the experience of irritation. He noticed many things throughout the day that triggered it, the tension in his body that ensued and the flurry of thoughts that flowed through the mind. As soon as he noticed these things, the irritation already began to subside a bit.

The next day he found a lot of irritation in others. He noticed their language was harsher and body looked tense. Thoughts arose in his mind at how silly everyone looks being so irritated by seemingly small things.

On that third day he was more aware of irritation arising in him, but these moments were interrupted by the realization that he didn’t need to be captive to the cycles of irritation in his mind.

This was his experience, but what’s more important is what our individual experiences are. Try out these 3 days as an experiment without expecting miracles. See what comes up for you. Notice if your relationship to irritation shifts.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

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