Six Steps to Freedom and Intentional Responsiveness

I have found that fear, anger and irritation are like an affliction, and a serious impediment to open communication and healthy relationships of all kinds. Discovering methods to deal with these challenging emotions is essential in leading a healthy well-balanced, harmonious life. It is important to realize that anger has its own function, intelligence and logic and so we should not entirely try to eradicate it. After much trial and error, I have come up with my own practice for regulating strong emotions and being patient and more authentically responsive through these six steps to mindful anger management and intentional responsiveness. Spirituality can be the medicine for all that afflicts us.


1. Recognizing: Notice with equanimity a familiar stimulus which habitually pushes your hot buttons and triggers an unfulfilling, retaliatory response such as harsh words or unfair treatment, which might very well provoke retaliation in kind. Stop for a moment, however brief, to breathe, reflect, and simply relax.

2. Recollecting: With remindfulness, remember the downsides and disadvantages of returning hatred with hatred, anger with anger, harm with harm. Buddha said, “Hatred is not appeased by hatred. Hatred is appeased only by love.” And recollect the upside—the significant advantages – of practicing patience, forbearance, tolerance and stoic acceptance of karma and its repercussions. In this second step, find and mine the sacred pause. Rest in it.

3. Refraining and restraining, through reframing: See things through the other’s eyes/point of view; cultivating feelings of genuine compassion for those who harm you, knowing that they are merely sowing the seeds of their own unhappiness and bad karma. Examine things from the others’ perspectives: turn this over like a stone to see all sides, recognizing others’ suffering. To take it one step further, practice recognizing the adversary or critic as a teacher, a friend, an ally in helping us develop patience and overcome unconscious, habitual, and unproductive reaction patterns. The most difficult person or situation can become our greatest teacher, our greatest opportunity.

4. Relinquishing: Give up habitual conditioned reactivity and let go of impulsive urges in favor of more consciously chosen intelligent responsiveness. Accept the fact that such urges arise, don’t suppress or indulge them. Let them be without acting on them and you will find that they ultimately dissolve.

5. Reconditioning and deconditioning habitual reactivity through remindfulness: Recall the entire situational dynamic you have now reviewed, while refraining, relinquishing and reflecting on how little it will matter in a few months and years; letting go of unwholesome reaction patterns.

6. Responding appropriately, intelligently, consciously, choicefully–proactively, rather than reactively: In some cases, this may translate into doing nothing or in other cases responding with equanimity; ultimately making wiser, more skillful decisions based on conscious awareness and experience.

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Full Day Workshop

Hosted by Lama Surya Das
Hosted by Lama Surya Das

Join Lama Surya for a full day workshop focusing on Dzogchen: View, Meditation & Action… Awakening Wisdom, Compassion and Resilience for the 21st Century.

In a series of experiential (practical) as well as teaching sessions, the American Lama will share with us his insights and guidance in meditation practice, chanting and prayer, self-inquiry, and what he calls “The Art and Practice of Presencing and Radiant Nowness-awareness” as part of his Dharma teaching (Dharma=insightful wisdom, truth, spirituality, and that which heals.)

Through the main Dzogchen practice of Trekchod or “Cutting Through/Seeing Through/Skygazing”, this profound and direct practice will be pointed out and unveiled.

All level of students are welcome!

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The Power of One

One allegedly violent 19-year-old boy pretty much shut down our fine city of Boston last Friday. Not to mention the terrible damage he and another are believed to have wrought on innocent lives near the marathon finish line on Monday. Now four young people are dead and scores injured as result of the bombing suspects’ actions. Why? Will we ever really know? As authorities are working to get to the bottom of this, and prevent similar possible future crimes, let’s together strive to get to root causes and origins of our violent society and era, and genuinely do something about it.

As our city and surrounding suburban towns were in lockdown, forcing us to hide in our homes and stay off the streets, while the suspect(s) were intensely pursued, I was praying, meditating, counseling people, and holding the victims in my heart. This lockdown is something I have never experienced in this lifetime, even in the Indo-Pakistani War — with blackouts every night — or when I lived in India under Indira Gandhi’s national state of emergency.

What can be learned from this moment? I believe this troubled time calls on us to open our minds and hearts to the innumerable connections we share with others — in our families, communities, social systems, and on our planet — and strive to understand what it means to be human now, and why it’s imperative that we concern ourselves with the well-being of all others.

The power of one is inconceivable; let’s harness this strength and energy by empowering ourselves and each other to assume the high road of altruism, peacemaking, collaboration and lovingkindness in action. We are all first responders for someone. Let’s remember the power of one.

Homage to the Buddha sitting in your seat.

Don’t overlook her.

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