When you exercise mindfulness, you exercise non reactivity or the capacity to stay centered, grounded, and unshaken in response to a provocative situation. Now, don’t confuse non reactivity with non feeling. Let’s use road rage as an example. You’re driving, and someone cut you off, and in response to being cut off you flip the driver the bird. You’ve just behaved reactively. Contrast that with what non reactivity would look like in that scenario: you are cut off by the driver, and rather than focusing your attention on the provocative situation, you focus it on you. You focus it on the sensations you’re feeling in your body, most likely a fast heart rate, perhaps tightness in the chest, or shallow breathing. Then you shift your attention to your breathing, sending your breath into the parts of your body that are feeling the anger – your heart, your chest – wherever it is for you. In the time it took you to use this technique, you never even thought about flipping the driver the bird because you were too busy focusing on your internal workings; that driver has probably gone on his or her merry way by now. This is non reactivity.
Non reactivity allows you to feel all of our feelings but not react to them. You feel them until you physically feel something else or until you decide with awareness and choice, that either you want to focus on something else or ask yourself what you really need to be okay.