HOW TO PRACTICE THE THREE Rs:
1) RECOGNIZE: Awareness is the key to moving beyond reactivity. Recognition is step one. Each day this week, pay attention to signs of discomfort. Notice, in particular, times when your reactions seem inappropriate to what is happening at the moment. Be aware of your tension. More specifically, observe FIVE SIGNS OF REACTIVITY:
1. Physical Pain, Fatigue, or Muscular Tension: Locate specific areas of tension in your body. Do certain events trigger tension in certain muscles? Do you feel tired, nauseous, light-headed, constricted, or hot or cold? Do you have pain, injury, or illness in any area of your body? Reactivity restricts energy flow and restricted energy flow is the cause of physical malady.
2. Excessive Emotional Reaction: Observe how emotional tension develops in reaction to events, persons, things, words, etc. Be on the lookout for emotion that is excessive to what is going on at the moment. For example, if you get outraged because your child stepped in the mud or because a coworker didn't write the date and time on a phone message.
Be gentle on yourself and be honest. We are highly automatic. Observe this state without judging it as good or bad. Accept whatever presents itself. It's simply the way we are at this moment. Judging ourselves is just another reaction to a reaction. Soon we will see that we often live as chains of mechanical behavior. One reaction leads to another, to another, and so on. Recognition is self-honesty, which inspires greater honesty with and from others.
3. "Black and White" Thinking: Recognize inaccurate thought patterns that create tension. Reactivity sees life as black and white, all or nothing, completely good or bad, this or that with no in-between. Notice times when you think or say, "You always do that to me" or "You never listen" or "I'm just a bad person" or "We're right, they're wrong, " or "I'll never be able to. . ." or "This is a lousy day." See how expectations color your interpretive lens. Preconceived ideas over-generalize and interfere with seeing things as they are. Nothing is black and white. There are infinite shades and hues if we free our perception from the limitations imposed by our conditioned fears. Things change every moment.
4. Projected Criticism or Blame: Be on the lookout for times when you blame someone else for something that happened to you. Be alert to times when you find fault, when you criticize another in your private mind, out loud to someone else, or to the person directly. Shine the light of awareness on those comments. Take note of those moments without judging yourself. We all do it and we can all move beyond it. The way past it begins with nonjudgmental recognition. Remember, that which we criticize in another is something that we judge in ourselves.
5. Guilt Over Past Events or Worry Over Future Events: Notice when you feel guilty over something you've have done in the past or worry about something that may happen in the future. The past is over and done, the future is uncertain. The only time that we can take action is right now, in the present. Focusing on guilt increases feelings of guilt. Focusing on worry increases worry. Focusing on what we can do this moment to build a better life is the way to a better life. Redemption and success can only take place in the present. Each day this week, recognize time spent feeling guilty over past thoughts, feelings, and actions or worrying about what may or may not happen in the future. Reactivity traps us in those two time zones.
The above five signs of reactivity enable us to see our dominant patterns of conditioning. These patterns operate like independent selves. Each pattern is called forth by different circumstances. We bounce between many "different selves," yet we are blind to our lack of unity. This week is for becoming aware of that fact, for experiencing the multiplicity of reactive behavior. Self-observation gives consciousness of, and separation from, reactivity. This is the first step toward releasing ourselves from its grasp.
2) RELEASE: Part two of this exercise uses specific techniques to release from the reactive patterns that we recognize.
Releasing has two elements:
1) We release the object of our tension. For instance, if we are tense in traffic, we stop blaming the traffic (or, more specifically, the drivers in front of us) for our tension. The tension we feel is of our own making. The traffic around us just shows our tension to us, it does not cause it.
We release the objects of our tension, whether they are, for example, persons, situations, or the environment, by realizing that the tension is of our own making. At a deeper level, we release those who conditioned us into this tension, such as our parents, our teachers, our peers, or our culture. We must claim responsibility so that we can take action. By recognizing ourselves as the source of our tension, we offer ourselves the opportunity to release reactive energy.
2) We release internally . Our conditioned selves are arrogant in their moment. We need to realize that each is a momentary reaction that will pass. We need to see ourselves as being larger than the reaction of the moment. When we see the limited and counterproductive nature of our reactive selves, these selves lose their power over perception. We gain the strength to say, "I do not have to feel this way. I can see things differently. I can act differently." Released from reactivity, we realize that we can choose our response to any situation.
12 RELEASE STRATEGIES:
1. Step "Outside" Yourself: Observe yourself while you are feeling reactive. Imagine looking at yourself feeling the way that you do. See yourself objectively, as an outside observer, without the emotional charge.
2. Look At Things Another Way: Recognize that your momentary experience is not the ultimate reality. There is no one absolute correct way to be, to feel, to think. There are many possibilities, many perspectives from which to view any event, and many ways to see yourself. Every way of being has its consequences. If you are experiencing tension, pain and unhappiness, explore cues to activate another experience. Choose the way of being that is line with your core energy.
3. Find The Source Of Your Feeling: Trace your feeling back to its origin. In other words, remember the moment when you started to feel reactive. What was the trigger that sent you into this mood? Shine awareness on that moment. Seeing the origins of events, how things come into being, awakens us to the transience of all events. Things come and things go. No mood lasts forever, though it may seem like it at the moment. The mood came into being because a reactive pattern was activated; it can pass by shifting your state of being. You can alter your experience.
4. Laugh At Yourself: Find humor in the absurdity of what you are doing.
5. Exercise or Take A Walk: Put some physical distance between yourself and the situation. Walking and exercise help to break up stagnant energy. A change in environment, posture, and movement opens us to other possibilities. Exercise also releases endorphins and neurotransmitters that elevate mood and stimulate new neural connections.
6. Focus Into The Present Moment: The present moment is the only time that we can take action. Reactivity is tied up in guilt over the past and worry over the future. The past is gone, the future never arrives. Let go of those two time zones. Only by acting on what you want will you attract it into being. If you say, "I'll do that when _____," you'll never do it. If you want something, do it, be it, now. Like the exercises in this course, do a little every day. There is no time except the present.
7. See Exceptions To The Present Situation or Behavior: Reactivity sees things as "always" and "never." Identifying exceptions can break the "lock" of a reactive outlook.
8. Journal: Write down your thoughts and feelings. Write whatever comes to mind until you have completely and unconditionally expressed yourself. Writing puts yourself out on paper and enables you to process and integrate reactivity.
9. Shout It Out: If your feelings are intense or deeply hidden, they may need a strong expressive release. Get away by yourself to a private place, like your car. Focus on the point of tension in its physical, emotional, or psychological aspect and verbalize whatever comes to mind. Let the words flow freely without editing. If you need to yell, scream, pound your fists or kick your feet, do it. Let the full feeling flow until it is exhausted. You may find yourself laughing or crying. In your privacy, allow yourself complete release. Whatever comes through you is alright. Do not judge it. Do not edit. Let it move. The only drawback to this type of release is that you can lose energy by dissipating it. It may exhaust you. Use this when nothing else works.
Another version of expressive release is to act out the selves that are in tension. Let them speak. Observe the internal conflict by expressing it outwardly. Allow each part of the self to speak without editing. The parts of self that have been repressed by the "should's" of culture and our internal editors may come out violently at first. Given a chance to speak, those voices may reveal internal feelings and truths that are necessary for the well being of the whole self. This technique is used extensively in Gestalt psychology and shamanic work. If this work appeals to you, you may want to investigate those practices further.
10. Use A Detachment Drill: Say the following detachment drill that is adapted from Active Meditation by Dr. Robert R. Leichtman and Carl Japikse (Columbus, Ohio: Ariel Press, 1982):
I have thoughts and opinions, but I am more than these; I am connected to a deeper wisdom. I have emotions and feelings, but I am more than these; I am connected to love and goodwill. I have desires, but I am more than these; I am connected to a deeper purpose. I have a body and many experiences, but I am more than these; I am connected to the Source of stable presence and core energy.
11. Breathe: Whenever in doubt about how to release, breathe. If you can locate where the tension is in your body, breathe into that area. You may find that you do this naturally. Doing it consciously adds even more power.
12. Talk It Out: With interpersonal issues resolve the tension in the present moment. Don’t allow things to simmer and boil. Address the person with whom you feel tension, express your point of view, and listen to theirs. Practice sacred listening and express your personal truth. If the feelings are too overwhelming to do this well, use any of the first eleven release strategies to take the edge off, then approach the other person directly. If the other party is unwilling or unable to resolve things in the present moment, say your piece, listen to them, and return to your own personal release strategies.
3) REPLACE: The third R replaces the reactive response that we recognized and released with a core response that is suited to the present situation. The key to replacement is integrated action. While reactivity casts blame, worries, procrastinates, wonders endlessly about why, and repeats loops of self-defeating thoughts, core response is sensitive to the needs of the present moment and takes action that is aligned with core values and intentions.
may find that another response naturally arises after working through the first two Rs. Core response flows when we recognize and release from reactivity and act from core energy, the movement of the universal life force within each of us. The voice of core energy may come quietly, subtly. It may take time to become accustomed to this different vibration. We may need to practice silence and take time to listen, discern, choose, and repeatedly act to affirm direction from the Source.
Core response is characterized by a lack of nervous urgency. Time seems to expand in perfect measure and energies converge from every direction to create the right response for any given moment. Core response is honest, loving, and synergistic. It creates the conditions for every being to fulfill their highest purpose. We replace reactive responses by seeing what is best for all concerned.
With the third R, replace, we develop our power of intentionality. Each moment we can choose fear or love. We can act from reactivity or core response. Through intentionality we break reactive habits and create the life we desire.