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Oct 21, 2012

There are some disturbing stories, that I have heard recently, which cause me to contemplate my own reactions: A local medical internist essentially refused to offer any examination or tests to a patient because that patient was a known “alternative” practitioner. “You should seek help among your peer group,” said the medical doctor. A yoga instructor asked someone to leave their class because the student was also an instructor from a different studio.

Should professionals know better and behave differently? I think that we may know better intellectually but emotions often trump knowledge and intentions. We are human, after all, but can we find a way to choose our responses?

When we feel threatened, we can react quite strongly and perhaps inadvertently cause distress to others. We often push others away in order to feel secure, but by protecting ourselves so violently we can harm others. I would like to think that I would not deliberately hurt another person, but I am aware that when I feel threatened I am a force to be reckoned with. I have experienced the power of fear to destroy relationships. 

I believe that we have to dig deep into self inquiry and look at the things which trigger our defense reactions if we want to grow and effect positive change in the world. First we have to accept that we have had a reaction and acted in a way which is not ideal: awareness. Then we can begin to ask ourselves, what is causing our reaction? Is there truly a threat to our fundamental values, our physical self or the well-being of our loved ones? Or is it a threat to our ego or, perhaps, a single-minded approach we may be accustomed to following?

Let's practice recognizing the difference - there are times when a threat is legitimate and should be defended against. But I think there are also times when, if we can catch ourselves, taking a step back and a deep breath might open up new possibilities and extend kindness and acceptance to others.

I am watching my own mind and the state of my body and spirit these days through meditation. As I get to know my "self", I can recognize my emotional body which blends all three aspects into feeling. Sometimes those feelings overwhelm me. A part of me observes the emotion and the breath allows me to pause before action. As my teacher Ann-Marie Ahye says, developing emotional maturity is something many of us have missed and staying with the feeling body instead of simply reacting or pushing the emotions away will allow us to clear the emotional field. It seems a long but important road.


May all actions be clear.



Please add a comment

Posted by Kelly on

Thank you for your reflections. I'm reminded of the practices of
Patanjali's sutras and specifically he suggest we remain neutral when confrOnted by malice or unpleasantness.
What a difficult practice that is! But we can achieve something like that by pausing when we notice that anger has come up. Recognizing the emotional body develoing it's stories and rather than engaging- breathing and choosing a response that is neutral.

With gratitude for your work and the generality with which you share it,

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