“It’s a free country,” they say. “Celebrate our independence,” I hear.

Well, I’m all for having a party, but it strikes me that you don’t have to be an American to appreciate freedom, and doing what I’m told isn’t the best way to exercise independence.

So, let’s expand that notion of freedom just a bit, and look at how we can become more aware of the fireworks that are lighting up our minds.

What sets off your mental fireworks? What ignites your personal bottle rockets?

Perhaps it’s a simple pet peeve, like small handbag dogs, or Jello salad, or people who talk on their cell phones too loudly. Maybe you go ballistic when you hear a certain song. We often have extreme reactions to relatively minor things based on our own little stories about them.

Maybe you save your fireworks for the big-ticket items—issues like war, poverty, health, and education.

In your head or in the sky above, when those fireworks start exploding, you’ve got two choices. You can either:
1) Hoot/holler, ooh/ahh, whistle/clap
2) Watch quietly

What do YOU do?

How do you respond when that initial flash appears? Do you get caught up in the excitement of it? Are you likely to share your enthusiasm in a way that is noisy—or are you more likely to watch in silence? What is your NATURAL TENDENCY?

In the name of freedom everywhere, I’d like to offer this tip to those who may be convinced that mindfulness requires silence: try making noise. And to those who are more likely to hoot and holler, here’s a suggestion: be quiet.

In other words, use fireworks as an opportunity to free yourself from your typical response pattern, and pay attention to the newness of it. After all, mindfulness starts when we notice something new. So, instead of focusing on always finding something to get excited about, try tweaking your own way of reacting. And then, watch THAT.

Start with the big, glorious displays in the night sky. Observe. Watch yourself. Do what you normally wouldn’t do.

Later, try the same thing with those mental fireworks. Observe. Watch yourself. Do what you normally wouldn’t do.

And celebrate your independence.

Author's Bio: 

Maya Talisman Frost is a mind masseuse in Portland, Oregon. Through her company, Real-World Mindfulness Training, she teaches creative and powerful eyes-wide-open alternatives to mediation. To subscribe to her free weekly ezine, the Friday Mind Massage, please visit http://www.MassageYourMind.com.