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Breakthrough
"Productive insight; clear (often sudden) understanding of a complex situation."  Free Dictionary

Pop the bubble of conditioned thinking and emerge into the creative realm of "no absolutes," continuous change, uncertainty and unlimited possibilities.

Then, there can be innovation, adaptation and optimal performance.
Performance and Open-minded Mindfulness
Open-minded:questioning everything, accepting diversity and uncertainty.  

Mindful: consciously aware; concentrated. 

Foundation for blending process, project, engagement and knowledge management into a cohesive approach to optimize performance.

Breakthrough
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VOLUME VII ISSUE NO. 8 | AUGUST 2015 
Transforming Anger with Intention 
and Equanimity 
By George Pitagorsky
Anger is a natural emotion and one which has a strong negative impact on one's own health and on anyone who is the target of angry thoughts, speech or behavior.
 
The responses to last month's article on forgiveness ranged from mild outrage at the thought that unforgivable acts were forgivable to appreciation for clarifying what forgiveness is. One person dropped off the mailing list, perhaps in protest.
 
Forgiveness means that hatred and anger are not carried around and expressed towards the perpetrator of even the most terrible acts. It does not mean that the acts are condoned or in any way accepted. Nor does it mean ignoring or suppressing anger and fear that naturally arise when confronted with negative acts, including one's own.
 
It is not easy to forgive. Righteous anger is addictive. Giving up the intense pleasure of revenge or the obsessive thoughts that fuel anger is a major challenge.
 
On a recent Mindrolling pod-cast the conversation went into the question of how a person can cultivate forgiveness in the face of a culture that, at least on the surface, is more about eye-for-an-eye justice than compassion and forgiveness. There is an entire movie genre for revenge.
 
An intention to value and cultivate equanimity, compassion and loving kindness and how they are expressed is at the root of one's life choices, including the choice to forgive. The ability to let go of or transmute anger without either acting out or suppressing it is closely linked with these qualities and with the ability to forgive.
 
Transmuting Anger
Righteous anger is anger that is justified based on one's value system. It is perfectly reasonable to be angry at someone who does you harm or does harm to someone or something you love. Few would argue that angry words directed at the dentist who shot Cecil the lion were unjustified.
 
The problem with righteous anger is that it is anger and anger hurts the person who is angry more than it hurts the one who is the object of the anger. Anger is energy, fierce and powerful.
 
What would happen if it can be transformed into positive action or into a self-healing emotion such as compassion or loving kindness rather than into harmful thoughts or actions. The most highly skilled and revered people in history were advocates of turning anger into love and compassion. 
 
The ability to do that begins and ends with the cultivation of equanimity.
 
Equanimity
Equanimity is accepting what is, no matter what. This is easy if you realize that the only other choice you have is to reject reality. What is, is, whether you like it or not. Accepting what is does not mean liking it. You cannot change the past or the present moment. You can influence the future.
 
Equanimity means "mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation." In Buddhism the word takes on a deeper meaning. According to Bhikku Bodhi, "It is evenness of mind, unshakeable freedom of mind, a state of inner equipoise that cannot be upset by gain and loss, honor and dishonor, praise and blame, pleasure and pain." The Sanskrit word upeksha (Upa means 'over,' and iksh means 'to look.') connotes the ability to look over the entire situation, objectively, and to not be attached to one side or another. Equanimity, in the context of forgiveness translates into the ability to see the full picture, including the motivation of the perpetrators, the pain of the victims and perpetrators, impact on society and the impact forgiving has on those who cannot or will not forgive.
 
Equanimity is applied to the emotions themselves. When anger arises, you deal directly with it. You accept it for what it is, a complex of thoughts and physical sensations that we label as anger. Bring your attention to the physical feelings, the knot in your stomach, the clenched jaw, and the muscle tension. These become the object of your attention. By bringing mindfulness to these feelings you can observe them with equanimity. Feeling the anger while being completely at ease with it, just as you might be with a neutral or positive feeling, allows for the space to decide what to do next. That decision depends on your world view, intention and values. Without equanimity, there is no decision. There is just reactive behavior.
 
What are the choices? You might ask.
 
Some are to 1) to accept the anger and let it subside by working with any number of techniques, like visualizing the anger as a man running at full speed, then walking quickly, then gradually slowing down, until standing still, sitting, and then lying down; 2) replacing angry thoughts with more skillful thoughts such as loving kindness or a mantra; 3) clenching your teeth and driving the angry thoughts away. You can regard others with loving kindness, compassion or equanimity, and contemplate that they will ultimately be responsible for what they have done.
 
These techniques do not necessarily resolve the anger. They may only suppress it. Suppressing anger has its place in situations in which a display of anger is not effective. However, long term, suppression is unhealthy.
 
We need a strategy for experiencing the anger and letting it go.
 
We can let it go by expressing it, we can let it go by dissolving it and we can let it go by transmuting it. Sometimes we have no choice, it bursts out and we are lost in expressing it. But, with practice, particularly mindfulness practice, we can cultivate the ability to step back and choose. The choice we make brings us back to intention. If the intention is to cultivate loving kindness, compassion and equanimity, then that will set the direction and determine whether to let the anger go or act on it.
 
Learning to be loving, kind and compassionate
Ideally, the value and cultivation of compassion, loving kindness and equanimity is learned from early childhood as one experiences one's parents and role models exhibiting these qualities. Unfortunately, our society has not evolved to the point of being exemplary in cultivating compassion and kindness. Equanimity is often viewed as a weakness. Our conservative politicians and their supporters label compassionate people as bleeding heart liberals and would rather cut taxes than provide services to the poor. Lefties seethe with righteous anger.
 
Those who have not had these high values since early childhood have to learn them and do the hard work of reconditioning, with the help of role models like the Dalai Lama and core teachings from the world's wisdom traditions. Using techniques like loving kindness meditations, or remembering the wisdom of treating others as you would be treated, in the context of mindfulness meditation practice, you can move from being reactive and vindictive to being examples of equanimity and the positive qualities you aspire to. If you choose not to do the work, you will continue to hold onto anger and express it in ways the set up a cycle of perpetual anger not only for yourselves but for generations to come. If you choose to do the hard work of personal transformation, you contribute to a more positive future.
 
2015 George Pitagorsky                                                 Top
Performance and Open-minded Mindfulness

Open-minded: 

questioning everything, accepting diversity and uncertainty.  
 
Mindful:
 consciously aware; concentrated. 

Foundation for blending process, project, engagement and knowledge management into a cohesive approach to optimize performance.

 Learn More
Managing Conflict in Projects
By George Pitagorsky
Managing Conflict in Projects: Applying Mindfulness and Analysis for Optimal Results by George Pitagorsky charts a course for identifying and dealing with conflict in a project context.

Pitagorsky states up front that conflict management is not a cookbook solution to disagreement-a set of prescribed actions to be applied in all situations. His overall approach seeks to balance two aspects of conflict management: analysis based on a codified process and people-centered behavioral skills.

The book differentiates conflict resolution and conflict management. Management goes beyond resolution to include relationship building that may serve to avoid conflict or facilitate resolution if it occurs.

 

Read More
The Zen Approach to Project Management 
By George Pitagorsky

Projects are often more complex and stressful than they need to be. Far too many of them fail to meet expectations. There are far too many conflicts. There are too few moments of joy and too much anxiety. But there is hope. It is possible to remove the unnecessary stress and complexity. This book is about how to do just that. It links the essential principles and techniques of managing projects to a "wisdom" approach for working with complex, people-based activities.

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