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Mindful Reactions to Hate Speech

The current political climate continues to create a culture of division that has our collective feeling tone hovering in the fed-up to angry range. As the rhetoric heats up, discussions that are charged with animosity and hate speech have become the new norm creating anger and fear in our hearts and minds. They lash out, we lash out and so it goes.We need a compass to know how to mindfully respond to hate speech, so we do not create more pain and suffering in our hearts and minds and in our local and global communities. Mindful reactions to hate speech is progressive.  The first step is to develop equanimity and peace so that our wise responses are expressed with patience and calmness. After equanimity is established, we investigate morality and integrity and respond in a way that uplifts, protects, and supports justice and freedom. Finally, we impart and share wisdom and insight so that we may all be liberated from misunderstandings and ignorance.

Establish Equanimity

During the Vietnam War, Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) served as a non-political peace activist who aided refugees by rebuilding Vietnamese villages as they were bombed by both Communist and Capitalist Countries. Thay refused to endorse either political agenda of the Communist or Capitalist countries.  He endorsed a humanitarian agenda that aided the Vietnamese people. In his efforts, Thay has stated that he helped to rebuild the same village three times. While attending a public forum on meditation Thay was verbally assaulted by a man who asserted that he had the “blood of his people on his hands”. The heckler stated that because of his influence with Vietnamese people if had chosen a side the war would have ended sooner. How painful and insulting that must have been. Thay realized that the hateful accusations had caused anger to rise within him. Although the auditorium was full of people who had come to hear him speak, Thay knew that the right response was to first reclaim peace and equanimity. Thay walked off stage and practiced mindful breathing behind the stage curtains before returning to address the man that had verbally assaulted him.

Cool the Flames

The flames of hate and anger are cooled by peace and equanimity. Mindful reactions to hate speech does not amp up the flames of anger. When we respond to hate speech with anger in our heart and mind, we exacerbate and fan the flames of hate.  Our first response is to lash out and protect ourselves when we are being verbally assaulted. If we can calm our mind and heart before responding, we have touched an elevated state of awareness. Elevated states of awareness such as love and compassion are our true nature.

Morality and Integrity

Freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment and like it or not this includes hate speech. Anger and hate are bound by wrong views and perceptions, yet erroneous and ignorant views are allowed expression to the same degree as insightful and beautiful expressions.

Those who use hate speech often do so in order to control, manipulate and hurt marginalized groups for their own personal interest and gain. There are often immoral and corrupt intentions behind hate speech. Mindful reactions to hate speech re-balance the imbalance.  Mindful reactions to hate speech considers the right level of firmness needed and responds accordingly. Sometimes the right level of firmness is assertive and at other times mindful reaction to hate speech is nobly passive.

Then Jesus went into the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those selling doves. And he declared to them, “It is written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.’” (Matthew 21:12–13)

Jesus over turning tables in temple
Mindful communication includes considering the right level of firmness.

Jesus knew that a high level of firmness was needed to stop the high priest from exploiting the faithful. A firm boundary was needed. Politely asking for a meeting with the high priest and explaining his concerns of economic exploitation would not have been effective, so Jesus threw furniture. Jesus could throw furniture mindfully. If throwing furniture is the right response, we can try to do so mindfully. If we need to raise our voice do so mindfully. Mindlessly shouting over shouting only creates more shouting.

Have We Become To Sensitive?

Since the Me Too Movement, there has been a great deal of discussion around perceived new levels of sensitivity. Consider catcalling. Many women feel threatened and angry by unsolicited and often crude comments made about her body as she is walking down the street. If the woman has been sexually assaulted a cat call can be quite a triggering event. Other women may not find it offensive or feel threatened.  The intention of the catcaller may not be intended to threaten. Perhaps it is intended as a compliment, albeit an ignorant way to do so. Other times the commenting is meant in a sinister threatening manner. Either way, societal responses intended to protect and believe women who have been hurt by sexual assault over the last decades (or perhaps since the beginning of time) have been abysmal at best.  Women are angry. They are  sensitive to any sexually charged communication. Perhaps a period of sensitivity is needed to re-balance the imbalance by reminding us to be mindful of our words. To restore morality and integrity we should understand the sensitivity of women and minorities and help to protect and comfort them. Even if their response resonates as being “overly sensitive”.

Wisdom and Insight

Hate speech, including racial slurs and sexually intimidating language, has only recently evolved from culturally sanctioned to unacceptable forms of communication. The pendulum has begun to swing the other way. Marginalized groups are not having it, speaking up and resisting.

Some argue that we have become over sensitive and standards of “political correctness” has made it impossible to have meaningful dialogue. A young woman recently shared that an old man in rural Georgia referred to her as “Hon” as she payed her bill at a local restaurant. She let him have it and was quite aggressive in responding to what she deemed as a demeaning expression. The old man was in shock not understanding how being addressed as “Hon” might resonates to a young woman. Was she to sensitive? I think a better question is, why would she respond in this way? Perhaps there is more to her response than sensitivity. Perhaps the long history of sexual assault, combined with the resistance and accountability being demanded by women have emboldened her. She does not intend to be a victim again. However, as she is understood and her pain acknowledged perhaps she can see that in this situation perhaps the old man meant no harm. “Hon” is a term of endearment often used in the south without sinister intentions. Mindful reactions to hate speech requires that we look at our own sensitivities with wisdom and insight. Our hearts and minds are clouded with the  poison of past pain and we over react when words are inappropriate or lacking elegance but not intended to be intimidating or threatening.

Be in peace – Diane

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Anger or Happiness? It’s Up To You, but You Can’t Have It Both Ways

Cool the flames of anger with intentions and compassion
Cool the flames of anger with intentions and compassion

Anger or Happiness? It’s Up To You, but You Can’t Have It Both Ways

Barriers to happiness include feelings of disappointment, anger, or unresolved conflict in inter-personal relationships. Sometimes friends, companies, lovers, bosses etc. can behave in ways that are harmful, selfish and draining. When we are hurt, we become angry and resentful. We may think that getting even will make us feel better. The truth is that holding on to Anger will increase suffering. It does not bring justice, restitution or peace. Try to hold the feeling of happiness and anger at the same time. I don’t think it is possible, because they are not compatible. Try letting go of Anger. Realize that it is hurting you.

What Are Your Intentions?

It is said that the happiest people in the world are those with a rich network of close and supportive relationships. We are happy when we feel heard, validated, appreciated and understood by our family and friends. There are many skills that we can learn to help foster loving relationships. One simple and very powerful skill is setting the right intention. We can make it our intention to show appreciation, to validate, or to listen. An intention can help our words to soften, our understanding to deepen, or our true appreciation to be felt by those we love. Intentions can change the dynamics of relationships, even when it is a relationship that has a history with heavy expressions of anger. At first, you may try to change the dynamics of the relationship by simply setting  an intention to remain calm the next time you interact with this person.     

The Antidote of Compassion

Sometimes we know that we should let go of Anger, and we may try. However, our energy of anger may be very strong. Especially if the object of our anger is a person or situation that has hurt us a great deal. I find several techniques to be especially helpful to “cool the flames” of anger. One technique is to try and understand the suffering of the person who is hurting you. Sometimes that can be very easy to see if we only look. We can clearly see their fear or feelings of inadequacy if we can calm our emotions enough to see the other person. Feeling compassion for another person, and understanding their suffering will quite naturally cool our feelings of anger.

with peace and blessings – diane

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Tapping Summit 2014-Energy Therapy Training

Energy Therapy uses the subtle energy of our thoughts and emotions to promote psychological health.
Energy Therapy uses aspects of traditional psychological methods with ancient acupuncture techniques to promote psychological health.

Tapping Summit 2014 – Energy Therapy Training

If you are interested in learning a simple technique that has the potential to greatly improve your health please consider attending the FREE  2014 Tapping World Summit which begins February 24th and runs through March 10th. If you are interested please leave your name below in the comments area, and I will provide you with registration information.

Learn from Experts – And, Did I Mention It Was Free?

This FREE 10 day event will provide you with access to leaders and experts in the field of energy healing as they show you how to eliminate stress and anxiety,  and improve your health, relationships and happiness by using Emotional Freedom Tapping (EFT). You will also have access to the presentations for 24 hours if you cannot make the live presentation. Paid upgrades are available (but not necessary) which provide unlimited access to the material.

EFT Combines Psychological Methods with Acupuncture Techniques

Emotional Freedom Tapping (EFT) is a form of healing which uses aspects of traditional psychological methods and ancient acupuncture techniques. Currently EFT has been featured on Doctor Oz, The New York Times,   and Women’s Health Magazine. EFT is remarkably easy to learn, and is gaining a great deal of attention in health care because of the effectiveness, lack of side-effects and adaptability.

I Use It With Clients and Have Seen Remarkable Results.

I believe that this modality, which is still relatively new, will become one of the most widely used holistic treatments over the next ten years.  EFT is effective, it is easy to use, and clients can apply the techniques to treat a wide variety of health concerns . You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.

With peace and blessings – diane

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The Energy Of Anger

flameThe High Price of Anger

We all know what it feels like to be angry. We may even have a general idea of the high price we pay when we act on our anger. I say general because if we would stop and think before expressing anger and remember the high cost we are going to pay, perhaps we could remember to act in non-anger. The opposite of acting in anger would be to act in Understanding. The right action of Understanding has many different forms and is dependent on the situation. Very often an Understanding response would be to remain silent. For some people who passively accumulate anger as they allow others to exploit them, an Understanding response would be to set a boundary using the appropriate level of firmness.

The Energy of Anger

The energy of anger is hot and strong and often can be felt in our head in the form of pressure, pain and tightness. It is thought that nearly 85% of the blood in the pre-frontal cortex area of our brain is drained to support the automatic “fight or flight” response that is activated by anger. The pre-frontal cortex area of the brain is needed during higher levels of cognitive processes such as judgment and creativity. That is why when we are angry we become “blind with anger”. The brain cannot support clear thinking and anger at the same time.
Damage to our health is a another price we pay when we are angry. We should be grateful that our bodies accommodate our needs and the fight or flight response is triggered when we truly need it. However, a traffic light that inconveniently turns red, a waitress who is slow to bring your meal, or a rude response from a colleague does not really necessitate the barrage of neuro-chemical, muscular, and hormonal changes that are instigated when the fight or flight response is triggered. It is good when we need it, but damages our bodies when over used.

We can all probably identify with the consequences that anger can have on relationships. Angry words and angry deeds can destroy relationships. We may shatter spirits, joy, creativity, and peace with anger. This is a very high cost. That is why it is important to address our anger and know how to respond to it.
The possibility of feeling and acting in anger is in all of us. Please share with me. Have you found a skill that reduces your anger? Have you found a skill that changes the energy of anger into the energy of Understanding?

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Righteous Anger

Righteous Anger

Is Anger ever the right response? Is it possible that the “right” expression of anger, used in the “right” circumstances serves a purpose? Is it possible for anger to be expressed consciously? Jesus was certainly enlightened and conscious, and he became angry. Flipping over tables in the temple, rebuking Peter, and calling the Pharisees hypocrites are a few examples. Are we enlightened and conscious enough to use righteous anger in a productive manner?

Anger Begets Anger

A husband becomes angry with his wife after she is caught lying about her impulsive and out-of- control shopping and spending which is threatening their financial future. The husband has been patient, understanding and supportive up until now. After the husband reviews the facts about the spending, and the financial implications to their family, he begins to outline the consequences of her behavior. In a raised voice he states her actions have changed their relationship. He can no longer trust her, particularly with money. He then sets boundaries and outlines the steps he will take to separate their credit and finances. The wife in-turn becomes angry and defiant and accuses the husband of being controlling, stingy and harsh.

Anger : The Slippery Slope of Emotions

Anger can be a slippery slope because Anger often begets Anger. That does not mean it is wrong, it just means that you should be prepared to accept these consequences. The expression of Righteous Anger can result in a person finally hearing and recognizing the consequences of their actions. However, shame, resentment, defense are common reactions. So, if you must use anger to be heard, be prepared for the emotions that anger may illicit. Jesus probably did not make new friends at the temple after turning over the tables. Also be sure of the motivation for your anger. If you are angry because your ego has been threatened or challenged, then pull back. Acting with anger is probably not the right response. Instead, take a deep breath and a step back. If your anger is about you, it is not righteous. If you act in anger because something bigger than you is under attack, exploited, cheated etc. perhaps using anger productively might be the emotional response that gets through, that is heard, and helps a person to realize the consequences of their actions.

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