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Don’t bite back! Mindfulness hacks to stay zen when triggered


Have you ever wished you didn’t bite when someone triggered you?

Staying zen when triggered is not a superpower reserved just for monks. It is a state that anyone can achieve. All you need are some good old-fashioned mindfulness and psychology techniques plus a little bit of practice.

These 6 mindfulness techniques are most effective (and feel more natural) when applied in this order. 

However if you are only able to apply one, the art of being still is the most powerful. Read on to find out why. 

1. Be still 

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
― Viktor E. Frankl

By being still you are halting or delaying the momentum of negative energy.

In The Power In Being Still, Karin Lawson PsyD says, “Being still is like replenishing the stores. It allows us time and space.”

It is that time and space Victor E. Frankl wrote about where the power to choose our response resides.

The nervous system is another area that also benefits from the power of stillness.

“Stillness produces the anti-stress fix by allowing us some chill time without totally checking out and being numb to our experience,” Lawson says.


2. Take long, slow breathes

Naturally in times of anxiousness you tend to take fast and shallow breaths, which isn’t good for your good for your body or mind (think increase in CO2 in the bloodstream, stress hormone release, muddled thinking etc.)  Slow, long breathes will help your body to remain calm and your mind clear and controlled.

Check out these breathing exercises to help manage anxious moments with this post from healthline.com.


3. Be present

The goal of this mindfulness technique is to be a conscious observer rather than an unconscious participant. Be mindfully present in the moment, notice what is happening and how you are feeling. Look for visual details to help you remain anchored and present. And finally, try not to judge whatever you are feeling or thinking – just observe and release, observe and release. 

To learn some more mindfulness techniques visit Alison at Mind Body Energy in Sydney.


4. Actively listen

Sadly so many of life’s conflicts have been based on misunderstandings. I wonder how many of those situations wouldn’t have occurred if either party had been actively listening.

Active listening is listening with the intention of receiving the complete message being communicated. To actively listen one needs to focus on the words being said, make an effort to understand those words from the speaker’s perspective, and finally to feedback the understanding of the message.

Making the effort to listen and understand the other person’s point of view puts you in a better position to resolve conflict amicably.

For more detail on how to better actively listen, see this post from Mind Tools.

5. Relax your body

You may think you're not tense, but what is your body telling you?

By relaxing your body you are discouraging the sympathetic nervous system from engaging – this is the system which drives the body’s fight-or-flight stress response.

So if your body’s tense your response may not be as considered as you had hoped.

Mentally scan your body to release any physical tension you have. Pay special attention to your jaw, shoulders and your hands to ensure they are relaxed and loose.

For more detail about the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system (which predominates in rest scenarios) see this article on Neuroanatomy, Parasympathetic Nervous System by Jacob Tindle and Prasanna Tadi. 


6. Lower your voice

As you are now in a state of calm you can be more confident that your response will be calm too!

Lower your voice and respond calmly, taking care to keep your body relaxed. This combination not only helps keep your stress hormones down but will also allow for a more civil discussion.



By putting time and space between feeling triggered and your comeback you are allowing yourself to make a considered and calm response, which in effect enables a civil discussion that can resolve the issue amicably. It all starts with the ability to be stop and become mindful.

It is useful to practice the above techniques by yourself to at least get some memory of it imprinted in your muscles and thought patterns. Most of these techniques won't come naturally in times of tension, so practice is important.

For more calm techniques see our post on 8 Different Ways to Create Instant Calm.


Stones/crystals said to protect against negative energy:


  • Currently recovering from stage 3 bowel cancer. I have been focusing on mindfulness and meditation to help with exactly that to remain calm and be at peace with myself. Life is hard but making time each day to slow down and really connect with myself has been so beneficial.

    Leisa Small
  • The Buddha said in the heart sutra:
    Form is only emptiness,
    Emptiness only Form.

    It is more important than ever, especially with the pandemic around to remind yourself to be empty. To be still and mindful of the moment.

    Otherwise you become like a dog chasing it’s own tail. Forever chasing something you can’t ever have.

    Sometimes people are like this. They get frustrated and act harshly to others.
    When you act harshly to others, it causes a ripple effect. It is contagious. Eventually others will act harshly onto you.

    If you can be calm and still, you will be compassionate to others. Compassion is just as contagious and eventually others will be compassionate onto you.

    It is important to be mindful not only for yourself, but also for the people around you

  • I have a saying, ‘Keep the Space’ instead of ‘Keep the Faith’ as it holds far deeper meaning for me and serves me in so many ways. Keeping more space between commitments, taking more time out for stillness and now a reminder to allow space when triggered reinforces the saying. Thank you!


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