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Friday, December 14, 2012

Set your hostage mind free

I read an interesting article today on how to deal with an angry person at work, all of which should sound pretty familiar to meditators. I was particularly struck by this:

Active listening is the first thing FBI hostage negotiators use to de-escalate incidents and save lives.
BCSM consists of five stages: active listening, empathy, rapport, influence, and behavioral change. Progression through these stages occurs sequentially and cumulatively. Specifically, the negotiator proceeds in sequence from Stage 1 (active listening) to Stage 5 (behavioral change). However,in order to establish rapport (Stage 3) with the subject, active listening skills (Stage 1) and empathy (Stage 2) must first be demonstrated (and maintained throughout) by the negotiator. As this process continues, influence (Stage 4) and behavioral change (Stage 5) follow. The latter stage refers to the successful resolution of the crisis that can only occur when, and only when, the previous stages have been carried out successfully.
That's pretty similar to the way we learn to work with our minds in meditation.

We listen. By focusing our attention on the breath or another object, we create calm.

We accept all thoughts -- emotions, nursery rhymes, shopping lists -- as equally impermanent and ephemeral.

We take a friendly approach. No thought or emotion is unacceptable. We became friends with our minds rather than judges.

We influence our minds by setting intentions: To be kind. To speak gently. To be patient. To notice when someone needs help and give it. To appreciate when we are helped.

And by turning our thoughts, behavior changes follow.

Our hostage minds can go free.