the things that upset us

Consider all experience to be
expressions of energy.

Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche,
Kum Nye Dancing

What do we do with the things that upset us?
Typically, we let them have their way, or we try to make them go away. 

OK, yeah. If we don’t do that, then what do we do? What’s left?
There’s another way. One description of how to deal with the things that upset us suggests “neither suppressing nor submitting to” the seemingly inevitable momentum of our emotions.

That’s when we can use Kum Nye. Kum Nye teaches us to slow down, observe the energy (that is the foundation of our experience), and then act upon the energy rather than react to the situation.

Sounds good. How do we do that? 
We apply the core skills.

Yeah, but when I’m upset, it’s pretty difficult to do anything but be upset.
True ‘dat.

That is precisely why we practice. So we’re ready. In the book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell describes one way security guards train to handle difficult situations. He describes a security guard coming up against a vicious dog. The first time the person faces the dog, their heart rate spikes at 175 beats per minute, and they become unable to think clearly. (This reaction may sound similar to what happens to us when we’re upset.) The second time their heart rate is less, and by the sixth time, they are able to keep their heart rate in the 120 beats per minute range, which, according to the book, is the optimal range for heightened clarity and being ready to act.

That’s where we want to be – clear and ready to do something appropriate to the situation. And Kum Nye can help get us there. Whatever your equivalent of a vicious dog is – perhaps it is driving in traffic. Talking to your unresponsive boss. Dealing with your unruly teenager. Handling an uncooperative employee. Interacting with a difficult co-worker. 

When we learn the core skills of Kum Nye, then we begin to see all of these situations have something in common. We begin to recognize the flow of feeling that arises in these situations, much like the flow of energy that arises when we do Kum Nye. So then we apply the same skills. At first, it may not be a spontaneous process, but with practice – like the security guards – we learn to respond differently. So we practice during class, during the day. And then when we need to, when the situation arises, we’re still inside and we’re ready. 

And that’s an awesome feeling.

Let’s be good at life.


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