The Second Arrow
“Our tendency is to get lost in a cycle of reactivity. In order to be able to step out of that cycle, we need to cultivate the ability to pause, recognize and open. I often use the metaphor of the second arrow because I find it just so helpful. The Buddha told a parable and the teaching was:
“If you get struck by an arrow, do you then shoot another arrow into yourself?”
If we look at the way we move through the day, when something happens, when we have pain in our body, when somebody treats us in a way that feels disrespectful, when something goes wrong...that’s the first arrow. Our mind and body go into a reactivity that does not help to bring healing. We blame others, we blame ourselves. That’s the second arrow.
Healing and Freedom come from non-proliferation of our thoughts. Non-proliferation means we have the wisdom in our lives to pause and re-arrive in the present moment. In that manner we can tap the wisdom and the kindness that is intrinsic to our nature. We then can respond with intelligence instead of a kind of fear-based reaction.
When we start paying attention to what is in the moment, we come home to our naturally wise heart. From presence we can respond to the situation that’s been created rather than react.
Source: Learning to Respond, Not React Tara Brach