“Between stimulus and response there is a space, and in that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom”viktor frankl, man’s search for meaning (1946)
Viktor Frankl’s extraordinary wisdom and insights as a neurologist and psychiatrist who endured the traumatic experience of being in a holocaust concentration camp is timeless. Read more about Viktor Frankl here or, we highly recommend, buy and read his book “Man’s Search for Meaning”.
This profound and layered quote is helpful to imagine, and remember, visually. When we see it this way the space itself becomes tangible – and we can begin to sense that we can lengthen this space the more we practice mindfulness. By being in the present moment we can notice the stimulus and our initial response in our bodies – but instead of being swept away but that automatic response – we begin to learn to notice the stimulus and instead choose to pause – even briefly – and choose. Perhaps that pause is a simple breath – where the spaciousness between the inhale and exhale is slightly lengthened. Or perhaps it’s a slow exhale, or a clearing inhale. Whatever it is – when we make a little space we make room for more compassion and clarity – for ourselves and others. Then we can choose our response – and those choices, as Viktor explains, lead to our growth, and indeed our freedom.