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Prevent Anger, Prevent Violence - August is Metta Month

Recent news of killings and shootings in the U.S., and terrorist acts abroad have created a lot of discussion about the causes and conditions which allow violence to occur.  Some suggest that mental illness is the cause, others suggest that humans are just brutal barbarians at heart.  But a recent article in Salon.com suggests that the cause is quite simple;  those that commit acts of violence are unable to regulate their anger, instead acting out impulsively and dangerously towards others.  Psychologist Laura Hayes explains:

Anger is not a form of mental illness, and it is not something to be eradicated. In a well-regulated brain, it is very useful. But when poorly regulated, anger is a source of continuous discomfort to the individual and to others, and for certain individuals, it can become deadly.

The solution, she suggests, is mindfulness practice.  Numerous studies suggest that it helps regulate emotions, and it's an easily learned and taught technique which anyone can do. 

The early Buddhist texts instruct that the antidote for anger is patience, and any type of meditation, not just mindfulness, helps develop and build our capacity to hold all that arises in our experience, including pain, anger, joy, sorry, excitement, and boredom.   And since it can sometimes be shameful to work with difficult or upsetting thoughts, lovingkindness practice might be even more useful than mindfulness.  The practice of lovingkindness meditation allows us to soften to our experiences, and be compassionate to our anger and hurt.  Like a loving parent, we can sooth ourselves and rewire habitual fight or flight responses so we don't have to react so quickly.  Instead, we can slow down and make beneficial choices for ourselves and others. 

August is Metta Month at IDP, and we'll be practicing Lovingkindness Meditation everyday!  You can participate by writing about your experience here on our blog, checking in on Facebook and Twitter, joining our new class, Love Here Now, a four week introduction to lovingkindness meditation available in NYC and online, and coming to our weekly Metta Meditation Group every Friday 6-7pm. 





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