Category Archives: Email Anger Program

Anger #31 Loose Ends And Final Comments

Comment: The final email. Hopefully you have gained from this program. I wish you well!

MacQuarrie Email Program — Loose Ends and Final Comments


You have completed the thirty emails of this program. I know that this has required a lot of work on your part. I also hope that it has been an effective program for you, and that you have obtained the outcome you wish from it (Email #01).

At this point, I would very much appreciate feedback from you as to its effectiveness, especially what parts have been most useful, and what not. Please email me at

My thoughts as to how you can continue:

  • be aware that as you learn your triggers and become more skillful in managing yourself, you will be changing the system within which you function.
    • people will not like this, and will attempt to sabotage you. Don’t violate them as they do so; play with the sabotage.
    • it is not likely that they want you to resume being angry; they may actually want you to be more healthy. However, your changes require that they themselves change. Perhaps your anger has allowed them to avoid their own anger, or served some other purpose within the system. Now they must find another way to cope, and are not prepared for this. Hence, they sabotage you and others so as to avoid their own issues — this is the nature of systems.
  • manage your energy. People won’t like it; manage yourself safely (Email #02 and #25).
    • as much as possible (safely), stop violations by others.
  • learn the messages of your anger.
  • deal with conflict. The only person who can initiate change is yourself.
    • practice the skills of creative communication, cooperation, and challenge
  • on occasion, dive deeper into your issues, perhaps with therapy.
    • be aware that these learnings of the past few months will fade. The activities and tasks must be practiced for an extended time before they become second nature. Expect this — come back (or find another program) in six months or a year.

And especially, recognize that you can act your way into a new way of thinking; you cannot think your way into a new way of acting (it is action that creates change). Growth is a balance of acting and assessing — risking is essential.

Challenge yourself. For me, I am often sad about the ways in which we have created ourselves as human beings, how traumatized we are. Learn how to step into the shoes of others so as to get how difficultly they live their lives, and why they may be criticizing you (Email #30 — Dealing With Other Angry People). For example, they have likely been traumatized themselves such that they are bitter; explore how the trauma arises for them in the present in your actual contact with them.

Most important — be a participant-observer of your own internal conflicts, watching for those sailors who demonstrate wisdom (Email #19 Why We Avoid). Develop your Captain.

I learned to deal with conflict by being challenged in how I functioned — overall a very painful process. When I had had my therapy practice for a few years, I was running a group within a community organization, supposedly an association with high integrity. Gradually I came to suspect that they had many undesirable characteristics, but I did not then have the skill to challenge them effectively. Eventually I refused to work with them, a decision that was hotly challenged. It took me three months to settle my anxiety, and come to terms that I was making a good decision for myself. But it was not easy.

Several years later, someone complained to the College who governed my license. I was able to defend myself, but it took me six weeks to settle my anxiety.

Again after a few years, another complaint — this time it took six hours to settle my anxiety. It was now simply an opportunity to demonstrate that I was living my own values.

I also learned how to function by requesting feedback from others. Much of this was part of the therapy processes I attended (as participant); later, I made it a habit to request feedback from the groups I was running. The skills of maturity are best learned through feedback.

If you want more from me, read my books (see below), subscribe to this blog, or ask questions of me (

If convenient, attend one of my workshops; usually they are listed on my website (A Place Two Be). I also do individual work with clients, usually by some kind of video conferencing such as Zoom (my preference compared to Skype). There is a cost for these, but I am open to sliding scale depending on need.

Keep well; you deserve it.

Thank you. I hope you have both enjoyed and benefited from this program.

Dave’s Books:

MacQuarrie, D. (2008). Blowing out the darkness: The management of emotional life issues, especially anger and rage. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse.

MacQuarrie, D. (2012). Acedia, the darkness within, and the darkness of climate change. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse.

Both are available from AuthorHouse, and there may be a Kindle edition on Amazon.

Anger #30 Dealing With Other Angry People

Comment: Angry people tend to attract angry responses, likely from other angry people. If you are to live otherwise, you will need to know how to respond to other’s who are angry.

MacQuarrie Email Program #30 — Dealing With Other Angry People

Anger is a masque of deeper issues.

In Email #01, I indicated your anger will tell you there is a difficulty, but it will not tell you if the issue is within you (powerlessness — something inappropriate within your own beliefs), or in others (conflict — something inappropriate with those around you). The primary intention of the Blowing Out method has been to release the Energy and explore the Message — to empty the Pot, and reduce the likelihood of the Pot filling again.

Hopefully, by this point in time, you have developed considerable skill in managing your own anger. However, as you undoubtedly realize, you are not alone in having difficulty with anger. So what do you do when you encounter someone else who is angry?

Previously, you might have escalated with them, with a less than desirable outcome. Your task for this email is to explore what you can do differently in such circumstances.

You probably know already that it will not do much good to suggest that they check out Angry? Change Your Life in 90 Days. Actually, the best way to recommend this program is to demonstrate to others that, compared with a few months ago, you are now much more able to manage your anger — actions speak louder than words.

So, how to deal with someone else’s anger (explore these suggestions to see if you agree):

  • first, monitor yourself, especially your voice tone, muscle tension, and body language. You want to be able to engage (or not) by choice, not by your own reactivity.
  • minimize escalation
    • minimize eye contact, neither too little (often interpreted as weakness) nor too much (often confrontational) — be aware there are major variations within cultures. For example, sometimes lack of eye contact is a sign of respect.
    • assume a relaxed posture, and especially avoid pointing.
    • speak with moderate tone, and especially no profanity.
    • listen, listen, listen. Appreciate suggestions; be thankful for contributions.
      • if you will listen to them, they may be willing to listen to you.
    • invite time-outs to problem-solve; make an appointment to resume.
      • when safe, discharge your own energy so as not to contaminate your next event.

Angry#30-PPositionsWhen complete, the following is a way to explore what happened (especially useful here, also in many other circumstances):

  • as usual, act out the situation — when you utilize your body, you are much more likely to access your other-than-conscious mind, and obtain richer data.
    • first, step into your own shoes (#1) to explore the event
    • second, act out the event from the perspective of the other (#2)
    • then, watch the action from the side (#3), as well as standing on a chair as you move around the event (elevated 3rd). You will gain different information from different positions.
  • finally, if you were dissatisfied with the original outcome, consider what else you could have done, similar to the exploration of Email #20 What Gets You Angry?

Dealing with ‘difficult people’ is actually a very complex process, partly because conflict is both normal and essential to the development of relationship, be it a group of two people or of twenty-two. When groups are forming, people are unfamiliar with each other — conflict occurs as people honestly sort their needs, and come to agreements as to how to act. Honesty is needed; niceness is often not effective in resolution. Everyone is doing their best to cope, some less effectively than others!

Those people who could be called ‘difficult’ are simply those with less skill (and perhaps have grown up in less than ideal circumstances). Most of the time, such people are demonstrating limited skill when the group itself is immature in its development. As a general rule, I assume that conflict represents immaturity of a group until it becomes very obvious that the individual is truly interruptive to the functioning of a group.

From my perspective, difficulties need to be corrected when they interfere with long-term relationship and/or the performance of tasks. Such correction however requires considerable time, often up to ten hours (or more) for resolution — a lot of work. My standards are these:

  • if I am the facilitator of a time-limited group, I will identify interruptive behaviors (simply name them so others are aware), tolerate them, or stop them as feasible.
  • if a long-term group (marriage, friendship, or work group), I will resolve, challenge, or stop inappropriate behaviors. I will also work hard to identify the ghosts and hidden agendas that often underlie conflict.

Something more needs to happen with truly difficult people — those who continue to be interruptive (major immaturity) and/or those who violate others (toxic). Some thoughts:

  • although much has been made of the concept of empathy in modern therapeutic circles, my experience (and that of my mentors) has been that empathy is very limited in its use.
    • empathy is useful for the development of safety and relationship, especially that of trust. However, it does not encourage growth, and is often conducive to continuing immaturity.
    • challenge (frustration) is much more promoting of growth.
  • early in my career as a therapist, one of my mentors pointed out the need for what he called killer instinct, best summarized by a definition from the 18th century: A gentlemen is one who does not hurt the feelings of another, unintentionally!
    • If I need to stop someone, I do so calmly and deliberately — it is a stance of clarity, not of anger! And I stop them.
  • it is important to recognize that people who violate others are limited in resources, and therefore are likely to escalate when challenged, possibly to dangerous levels.
    • another mentor pointed out that toxic forces are responsive neither to reason nor to empathy. Thus, the risk of escalation — be careful.

Coming next: Closure

Anger #29 Responding To Children

Comment: Child discipline is fraught with ‘shoulds,’ and thus a place of major difficulty. Child discipline is more accurately discipline of the parent so as to provide consistency and nurturing.

MacQuarrie Email Program #29 — Responding To Children

Angry#29a-TasksI chose this topic as part of the program because children are a part of the lives of everyone. Children are a source of major joy, and also of significant anger. Children are developing into individuals, and therefore resist the efforts of others to manage them. Thus, responding to children is equivalent to managing the third limb of a triangle — fraught with difficulty.

The task in this email is complex — learning to parent with care and consistency. Be aware that it is easy to become overwhelmed with all the ‘shoulds’ in this field. The bottom line is safety and respect. What are your beliefs as to how children should behave? What are you seeking?

Although most people attempt to parent well, parenting is still an isolated phenomenon within the private family. As children, many of us have been traumatized in families; I certainly had been. As such, most of us received almost no training in emotional or relationship dynamics, other than the emotional field of our own families. Because of this, we are at great risk of recreating such patterns when we themselves have children.

There is a lot I could say about why our culture frequently traumatizes children, but it would take much space. I therefore confine my remarks to skills that are needed in responding to children.

The needs of children are age-dependent; difficulties occur because of inherent age-related tasks. Children have more dreams; parents are more orientated to reality. Younger children are focused on family, learning to model family dynamics; teens are relating to peers, and learning independence. Note the directions children are moving (young children towards parants; teens away) People can only hear you when they are moving towards you; thus younger children listen; teens much less so.

Angry#29b-SECFor me, the simplest way to describe all these needs is in terms of safety, energy, and choice (the primary characteristics of the Triune Brain — Email #04). All children need safety (not rules, but boundaries within which they can explore), extensive nurturing (energy which adds to safety), and age-appropriate choice (risking within the boundaries of safety). Between ages 0-2, they principally need safety and nurturing.

Difficulties usually begin with the ‘terrible twos,’ and the ‘trying threes.’ Here the primary need remains safety — children between two and ten simply do not have enough life experience to make good decisions of safety; however, the additional need is to educate them towards good choice. This is called child discipline; however, it is more accurately ‘parent discipline,’ the need to provide consistency of safety and nurturing. Parents have difficulty usually because they want to control energy (the expressiveness of children), rather than safety and choice.

There are two systems I advocate for the younger age group: 1-2-3 Magic (Tom Phelan) and Inner Discipline (Barbara Colorosa). 1-2-3 Magic emphasizes the energy management (positive energy to encourage appropriate behaviours, and absence of energy to discourage undesirable behaviours (criticism is negative energy, and a form of energy reward — as is too much explaining; remember, children want energy, and negative energy is better than no energy). Inner Discipline emphasizes age-appropriate choice. Both systems emphasize safety; both require discipline on the part of parents — consistency of caring, rather than energetic negative reward.

For the age group of 10-18, the child is gradually allowed to assume responsibility and accountability for both safety and age-appropriate choice, transferring safety issues to the older teen — such that adult-adult relations can develop as the child enters their 20s, perhaps as a form of mentoring on the part of the parent. Sometimes, such consistency is encouraging that of risk-taking, and other times is restrictive due to safety concerns.

Angry#29c-PACThe most useful way I have of thinking about responding to children again arises from Transactional Analysis, the therapy I introduced in Email #13 Who Are My Sailors? (TA is generally very good at explanations). There I suggested each person consistently has five sailors (nurturing parent, NP; critical parent, CP; adult, A; adapted child, AC; and natural child, NC).

  • The Parents operate from beliefs, the Adults from thoughtful evaluation, and the Childs from feelings.
  • ‘Grown-ups’ have all five states; ‘children’ only C states.
  • CP operates from ‘shoulds;’ AC is the sneaky Child.

In general, effective communication is with equivalent sailors (e.g., P-P or C-C), and poor communication when levels are crossed (e.g., P-C, P-A, or A-C). Thus, the most difficult situations occur between CP (‘you should’) and AC (‘I don’t want to!’).

Most parenting conflicts occur between CP and AC, a crossed transaction, in which the parent attempts to control the behavior of the child, independent of issues of safety and choice. Given that we all have Child sailors, younger children are predominantly Childs and teens are often Childs (while learning to have Parent and Adult sailors, eventually Captains — effective Adults).

Such crossed transactions are recipes for difficulty, especially with teens. The essential parenting need is Adult — set clean boundaries that you yourself can manage. The most effective way that I know is to ‘out-child’ the child — the skill of playfulness, together with an Adult (to provide safety). Can you be in a state of wonder? Do not lecture (P-C); do not argue (C-C). In each case, you will lose. Set boundaries (A), and wonder how the teen will respond (C).

For example, the teen wants to borrow the car, but never contributes gas. Set the car keys on the table with the instruction that the keys are available when they are replaced with $20 (to be refunded if the car is returned with a full tank of gas); otherwise the keys remain on the table. What will the teen do in response? Probably argue — do not engage. Possibly sulk or cajole — do not engage. Do not lecture. The discipline is to stay with the parameter of: Keys = $20.

Some other reading material to consider. Tom Phelan’s Surviving Your Adolescents is excellent; if possible, find the first edition — better information from my perspective. Also read Change: Principles of problem formation and problem resolution by Watzlawick et al.; it is the primary source whereby I learned to play.

Coming next: Loose ends

Anger #28 Intimacy And Relationship

Comment: In some fashion, we all want intimacy, but we are unwilling to risk, and thus we shift to psychological games with predictable negative outcomes. “Here we go again!” Sad.

MacQuarrie Email Program #28 — Intimacy and Relationship

The Skills Of Relating

A friend of mine, a cultural anthropologist, asked approximately 40,000 people how they wanted to live their lives? Essentially everyone said they wanted a sense of aliveness, personal integrity, authentic relationships, and the ability to contribute — to be able to gift to others. My friend also noted in his research that our culture is characterized by domination, greed, and self-righteousness — essentially these are the same 40,000 people, just different sailors present.

So how then do we get what we say we want? It is not easy — it is risking being vulnerable so as to give permission to the other to be vulnerable also. I summarize it as: 3Rs:

  • Reveal self,
  • Risk not knowing what will happen, and
  • Requesting closeness — Let me know you. Please risk with me.)

The task of this email is for you to explore your vulnerability, and if you are willing to risk. How willing are you to have a successful relationship? Always it requires effort, and risking.

Vulnerability is the willingness to be powerless, bringing a clean thoughtful stance to issues, risking criticism (not knowing what will happen, and able to pick oneself up if the attempt does not work). Overall, men in our culture repress their feelings, and lack relationship skills; underneath this, they are actually terrified, especially of being criticized by women. Thus, the best example I have of men risking is in sexual approach. (What if the woman (or possible mate) says No?) Women in our culture experience the pressure to nurture, and do the dance of deception; generally, they are more emotionally mature than men, although they are often indirect, and act as victims. For women, the best example of being vulnerable is when they are willing to express unpleasant feedback directly. These features may be changing for younger generations; however, I do not have enough evidence to judge.

Be that as it may, we all want intimacy and connection. In Email #12, I identified what I call the three laws of experience: We want positives, it is easier to get negatives, and negatives are better than nothing. These laws determine the difference between intimacy and psychological games.

A therapy that helped me make clear distinctions here was Transactional Analysis. (Briefly I indicated this therapy in Email #13 Sailors On A Ship.) TA is about transactions — interaction.

In TA, intimacy is an unpredictable transaction with a possible positive payoff. It is high energy, high contact, and high risk, but when successful, it is very satisfying. In contrast, a psychological game is an other-than-conscious transaction with a predictable negative outcome. It is high energy, high contact, and low risk. Notice the differences between these interactions:

  • intimacy: high risk, positive outcome (very satisfying), unpredictable.
  • psychological game: low risk, negative outcome (negative is easier to get and better than nothing) , predictable.

Throughout these emails, I have repeatedly emphasized that life has required many of us live with major blocks to awareness, living into acedia rather than wisdom. Thus most people derive the energy they want via psychological games, keeping the process at the other-than-conscious level so as to block awareness of predictable negative outcomes. Sad. If you can say “Here we go again . . .,” you are a participant in a psychological game!

Angry#28a-Drama1The classic game is known as the Karpman Drama Triangle. Here there are three roles: the persecutor (P), the victim (V), and the rescuer (R). P is criticizing V (giving energy to V), R comes along and attempts to stop this “obvious” inappropriate behavior, thereby giving energy to both P and V. Suppose each starts with 100 units of energy, and each transaction is 60 units.

Angry#28b-Drama2Persecutor (P) blames victim (V), transferring 60 units. Rescuer also gives 60 units, 30 units to each of P and V. At the end of this round, P has 70 units, R has 40 units and V has 190 units. The basic question is: Who is winning? The victim always wins! But the game is unstable (sooner or later, someone runs out of energy). So, in order to keep the drama going, the players alternate roles. For example, Victim becomes Rescuer, and Rescuer becomes Victim. The game goes on. As an example, husband comes home drunk; wife (P) blames husband (V). Next morning, husband has a hangover (V); wife (R/V) says: “Stay in bed; I’ll get you breakfast. You had a rough night, so somebody (i.e., me) has to take care of you.”

As for resolution, Eric Berne (the TA therapist who studied psychological games in detail) stated “The only way to stop a game is to stop it!” Simplistically, you cannot play tennis with yourself (it takes two to play)! So when one player walks off the court, the game ends.

In comparison, effective relationship requires hard work. A host of skills are needed:

  • maintaining values — the groundwork, with often subtle differences between the individuals.
  • communicating and cooperating. Couples need to do much more than communicate — especially they need to cooperate in problem solving.
  • Angry#26b-Options1caring and resolving conflict. Caring is sometimes just as much work as resolving conflict. Problem solving (#27) is essential.
    • relationships do best when there are at least five positives for every negative.
    • blame has no place in relationship — blame is based on a right-wrong mentality, whereas everyone is always doing their best. When inappropriate behaviors exist, the basic question is whether the action was intended, or not. And do the individuals wish to act into better behaviors.
      • Sudden start-up of conflict is especially harmful.
    • it is necessary for the individuals to reveal themselves, especially their differences (a potential source of conflict) as feedback (not criticism).
    • Feedback (healthy) says “This is who I am;” criticism (unhealthy) says: This is who you should be.”

All of this, especially cooperation and gift-giving, is the basis of effective relating. Repairs of harm (e.g., authentic apologies) are essential. Management of energy (Emails #25#26) is mandatory.

The essential stances are:

  • if one of us has a problem, it is our problem! It is simply where the pain surfaces.
  • the person who has the pain has the responsibility to initiate discussion.

Coming next: Responding to Children

Anger #27 Conflict And Resolving Difficulties

Comment: Very few people like conflict — however it is a major underlying feature of relationship. For trust to build, conflict needs resolution.

MacQuarrie Email Program #27 — Conflict and Resolving Difficulties

Angry#27-SolveThe task for this email is to explore how you handle difficulties. Please reflect on the following:

The resolution of difficulties is a major need in the management of cooperative conflict, and also a major need in any long-term relationship (see the next email). Conflict is always part of relationship — it is simply ‘difference in a closed space (a relationship).”

Two acronyms are especially useful: SOLVE and ACT!


  • S: state the difficulty, and recognize that the description is incomplete. If you could describe the difficulty appropriately, it would likely be resolved already.
  • O: outline the ‘solutions’ attempted. They aid in clarifying the nature of the difficulty. They indicate what does not work.
  • L: list alternatives (brainstorm). People do it often in business, but seldom in personal issues. Sometimes, unusual approaches are most effective (using play and wonder).
  • V: visualize the consequences (more accurate: associate into the difficulty, and explore).
  • E: evaluate the results, and re-cycle as needed. The future is not predictable; you can only make your best guess, based on homework and truth-testing. If your choice did not generate a desirable outcome, simply choose a new direction.

In my therapy practice, clients would often come to me with what they considered as difficult decisions (e.g., a job change), indicating that they had studied the alternatives, and could not decide on the best option. They did not know what to do, and needed to make a decision within a few days. I would simply tell them to pick locations around the room, assigning a specific location to each of the choices. At each location in turn, they were to associate into the given option, and live it as if they were six months beyond the decision; no words or descriptions need be spoken. They felt it in their body. Then they would stand in the middle, and sway in the various directions. Invariably they knew which direction felt best! A 5-minute process — a simple resolution. All that I had done was to guide them in truth-testing the options (Email #22).

ACT! (When you find yourself in a deep hole with a shovel in your hand, put the shovel down!) The following is a modification of the Serenity Prayer:

  • A: Accept what will not change (i.e., the third limb). It may change, but it is not in your power to accomplish this reliably.
  • C: Change what will (these are your personal options of Email #26).
  • T: Treat yourself well. Forgive yourself — self-criticism is only useful for about 10 minutes. (Again, the first thing in such a deep hole is to put the shovel down!)
  • !     Get out of the hole! Only then explore how you ended in the hole in the first place.

Recall that only about 30% of difficulties are solvable; the remainder are resolvable. You may not have noticed, but I am here being very precise in language — describing difficulties, not problems. Difficulties are of two kinds: 1) solvable, or 2) painful but not solvable, e.g., death, illness, et cetera). Get on with it — solve them, or accept the limitations.

Technically speaking, problems occur when we insist on solving these latter difficulties (those not solvable, only resolvable), thereby generating further pain in the process (a major example of which is attempting to “fix” the third limb of emotional triangles). [If you want to explore further, find the book Change (1974) by Watzlawick; I learned how to play from this book!]

As such, when I encounter a difficulty, I seek to determine very quickly as to whether or not there is a solution (30% — generally some kind of logical solution). I learned a great deal from Plato here — he described difficulties as logical, ethical, or emotional. But we do some very strange maneuvers with these ideas:

  • Logical: there is a logical mechanism to be corrected. E.g., my toaster is broken. Logically I could take it apart, analyse the fault within the circuit, replace the parts, and have my toaster back in working order. In our culture, we regard this as too expensive.
  • Ethical: there is an agreed-upon set of rules as to how we respond. E.g., my toaster is broken; I bought it two months ago, and the store issued a warranty of three months. I take it back to the store, and the store gives me a new toaster (and the old is ‘garbage’).
  • Emotional: there is no agreed-upon set of rules, only pain-pleasure principles. E.g., my toaster failed at day 90, the warranty expires at day 91, but I’m busy. I don’t get it back to the store until day 92, and tell them it failed at day 90. They would be fully within their rights to refuse to give me a new toaster, but also know that they might lose many customers when I complain about how ‘unfair’ they are! So, I get a new toaster!

Ultimately, resolution of difficulties with others comes down to genuine interest. Thereupon, the management of one’s own energy is a private affair, whereas the seeking of resolution is public between the individuals concerned. All this requires time, intention, focus and flexibility (you can have a TIFF about the issues.

As mentioned in the previous email, keeping your word is essential. Actions speak louder than words, and if you are unable to do what you say you will do, re-negotiate another resolution with the parties concerned — otherwise trust will be compromised. No trust — no resolution!

Next most important is to decide concerning what you can agree before you explore what you disagree about — this exploration of agreement is the relationship, the umbrella under which the conflict can be safely explored. Here, positives are very important. Express lots of appreciations, ideally five positives for every negative.

Third, negotiate needs, not positions. Positions are stances that come out of needs. Notice the difference between “People should not smoke in the house” (a position) compared to “I have asthma — second-hand smoke really aggravates me. I need a smoke-free environment.” (a need). Positions often generates resistance and conflict; needs usually leads to compassion and understanding.

Finally, make appointments (spontaneous discussions of difficulties are fraught with pain). Especially important is that sudden start-ups generate anxiety and resistance — always give warning of intentions. This is especially so with questions — sudden questions both surprize and generate anxiety; it is always best to state your intention prior to asking a question. E.g., “I’m curious. I don’t understand why you did that.” Notice the difference from “I don’t understand why …,” especially if the voice tone is misinterpreted.

Even more destructive is sudden start-up of criticism! Give warning and time for processing.

Coming next: Relationships and Intimacy

Anger #26 The Message Of Your Anger

Comment: Having established safety for all, the next most important aspect is to distinguish whether the issue is me, or my relationship with others. And then get on with resolving the issues.

MacQuarrie Email Program #26 — The Message of Your Anger

The Blowing Out Process, in detailIn the previous emails, I dealt with Safety and Energy. Here we will explore The Message and The Conflict, again so as to develop personal power.

The process of Blowing Out works in that I can reliably move from a full pot of energy to that of a relatively empty pot having three characteristics:

  1. I can feel safe (accessing choice),
  2. I can think more clearly (choice), and
  3. I can make a significant distinction between what is happening within me, and what is happening outside me with other people (the choice to resolve conflict).

It is not an instantaneous process — it requires time, but not a lot of time. And there are two critical choices to be made. The first is simply that of choosing a time-out. In the heat of the moment, it likely requires 2-3 seconds to make this choice. My experience is that, regardless of how overwhelmed you have been in the past, you can create this time period using the Checkbox of Change. This then allows the Blowing Out process to continue to resolution.

At this point, please re-read Email #08 The Blowing Out Process, Part 2. The task for this email is to learn the distinction between powerlessness and conflict, and explore the options.

The MESSAGE of Powerlessness (The Familiarity of Pain from Your Past)

The second choice is that of distinguishing whether the issue is that of your own powerlessness, or that the behavior of the other has truly been inappropriate. This distinction is available because you can now think more clearly, but may require additional learning. I suggest you return to the John James Game Plan (Email #10), for it is here that you can practice recognizing “this feels familiar” (question #8). Powerlessness is recognized by emotional pain familiar from your past, indicating the surfacing of unresolved issues, buried perhaps for years.

As indicated in Email #08, if there is any significant degree of familiarity, deal with this first, at least in part, before approaching the other. I normally allow up to ten minutes for energy release, and another ten for processing, before I return to the conflict scene (which I must do — so as to satisfy the requirements of the time out). To the extent that the issues are familiar, I apologize, and indicate that I am determined to settle these old issues so as to continue to be in relationship.

Depending on the skills developed in the preceding emails, much of this work may already have been done. Or — you may need to deepen the process by working with a good therapist, someone who will assist you in further skill development, not just tell you what you should do.

The MESSAGE of True Conflict (The Other Is Inappropriate: Lies, Broken Promises, et cetera)

There are essentially four options in responding to conflict:

  1. I can forgive — simply let it go (see Email #24 for the options of EFT).
  2. We can cooperate — we are not stupid; we can always find a resolution eventually.
    • Because I can manage my energy, I can always choose to cooperate — I don’t have to like it! I choose it because I want resolution. Essentials include:
      • Keep my word — if I say I will do something, I do it — or I re-negotiate!
      • I explore what actions we need for resolution, not what we believe is true.
  1. One of us can violate the other! If the violation is physical, leave (when safe)!
    • This is the one situation where I tell someone what to do — it is too dangerous!
  2. We do not cooperate! I always choose cooperation as my first choice (unless physical violations exist); it is also my second choice unless repeated violations occur!
    • the basic problem is that non-cooperation always risks ending the relationship.

Angry#26b-Options1There are two ways in which I can express myself in conflict:

  • directly in relationship with another person — this can be painful, but is almost always healthy if the energy has already been released. You are being honest, stating “this is who I am,” and potentially asking “and who are you?”
  • indirectly, into the third limb of the triangle — likely unhealthy.

There are six ways I can respond:


  1. I can leave! A useful response if I know how to manage the issues, and simply no longer wish to deal with them.
  2. leave (create geographic distance), and release my energy. Always useful.
  3. leave, and plan my return. Always useful.
  4. I can extend love and forgiveness into relationship (useful if no violations exist).
  5. I can extend clarity by studying the emotional issues underlying the conflict. Useful.
  6. I can play — the most complex skill! It is a profound skill!

Some thoughts (please reflect on them carefully):

  • leaving, especially to release and/or plan, are always a useful option.
    • Plan at least three different responses for the return.
  • Angry#26d-Conflictthe conflict is not the relationship! The goal of good communication is to go on feeling good about the other while resolving the differences!
    • extending love and clarity are useful in cooperative conflict.
    • It helps immensely to explore what we like about and want from each other before we argue about what we don’t like!
  • Angry#26e-Playbeing playful is most useful in non-cooperative conflict.
    • tyranny is not susceptible to reason. Leaving is the best option when violations exist; the other may escalate dangerously if opposed, especially if challenged by playful interventions.
    • in non-cooperative conflict, I seek a resolution that works for me, without violation of the other. The other may not like my resolution! They may escalate. Safety is mandatory!
      • in true playfulness, I want to be in a state of wonder as to what will happen if I do ‘X.’ As such, I have no anxiety of the other, even if they escalate — the other must deal with their own issues.

Coming next: Problem Solving

Anger #25 — Managing Yourself While Angry

Comment: I cannot emphasize enough — the primary issue of emotional management is Safety! Everyone must be safe, and idealy everyone must feel safe (Security).

MacQuarrie Email Program #25 — Managing Yourself While Angry

The Blowing Out Process, Part 1In the next two emails, I am going to expand upon the concepts developed in Emails #07 and #08, the process of Blowing Out the Darkness. This email will deal with Safety and Energy.

I hope by now that it is clear that the skill of anger management is the ability to turn your power of domination into your personal power to influence. Expanding upon the principles I presented in Email #07 Blowing Out, Part 1, please note:

  • safety for all is absolutely essential.
  • the high intensity of anger or rage interrupts my ability to think, preventing my ability to distinguish whether the issue is my own powerlessness, or whether the difficulty exists as part of my relationship with the other, i.e., true conflict.
    • This is the Darkness of anger and rage, especially rage.
  • when I mismanage this energy, I am at high risk of dumping the energy on someone else (or on myself, by criticism of myself) in an inappropriate fashion.
    • Either I blow up and dump it on someone else, and very soon recognize how inappropriate this is (“I should not have done this,” and I move into shame), or
    • I blow down and dump it on myself, often with slower recognition (“I should not have done this,” and I move into shame).
  • shame does not empty the pot (Email #06) — it puts a lid on the pot, such that the energy is sealed until the next episode. And the cycle starts again.

SAFETY        Task #1: Negotiate an agreement for time outs with your partner (or the other participant in the issues)

Angry#25b-TimeOutIn order to change this cycle, a new way of functioning must be instituted. It is difficult to do, especially with the potential hair-trigger issues which progress within seconds, or milliseconds. Question: do you want the 10-second plan, or the 10,000 year plan? Seriously — some people can talk about the issues for years, without resolution, without awareness. Analysis is an option, but frankly, it is not effective for many people. It is awareness (not understanding) that makes the difference! (Understanding is optional.) I may need to utilize the skills described in Email #11 The Checkbox of Change if the changes are happening too quickly.

The 10-Second Plan: Once I am able to recognize the build-up, the only thing required is a decision for a Time Out, a withdrawal from the situation. In so doing, I separate The Ghost (Email #22) from the current issue: I create geographic space between myself and the conflict, and by necessity I take the ghost with me. Anger work requires safety, integrity and privacy — I need to protect both myself and others, physically and emotionally, without guilt or shame. If possible, negotiate the exit, but exit nevertheless — to continue is (usually) to escalate. Instead, work with the Ghost.

If I am consistently having issues with specific individuals (e.g., my life partner), then ideally, the Time Out is pre-planned by negotiation with these individuals. I need to develop an agreement that, if I ask for a time-out, it means that I am becoming overwhelmed with my own energy. We agree that I separate from this individual for a pre-arranged time period so as to work through the energy, AND I will return within this agreed time period to continue the discussion. If I consistently keep this agreement, the other will learn to trust me. If I do not, they have no reason to trust — no positive trust, no relationship! It is the essential basis of relationship.

A time out could be as short as 20 minutes (10 minutes to discharge your energy, 10 minutes to explore the message!), or as long as a few hours — most people can wait this long. But the longer the time, the more difficult is the waiting for the return. And I still must return within the agreed time!

The Captain is responsible for safety: No SAD and Stop (Email #02 and #07). The Sailor is responsible for releasing the energy! The Captain is responsible for learning the Message!

ENERGY       Task #2: Establish and practice at least three ways to release

So now — what to do with the energy? Anything that works! Anything that empties the pot effectively, anything that releases the energy within the Muscles of Stability (Email #23).

The two ways that work best for me are to utilize and:

  1. use the emotional experience, and express what the muscles are asking.
    • such a process utilizes both the story (as fantasy) and the Muscles of Stability.
  2. use Eastern forms of exercise — especially in “stillness,” the field of yoga.
    • here I can access the energy directly, while still accessing the story.

Because I am very well versed in hatha yoga, I can release tremendous energy quietly and in apparent stillness, easily satisfying the requirements of No SAD and Stop. But most people are not well versed, if at all. Thus discharge techniques are commonly needed — all have some risk of physical damage to self or furniture. So practice with care. Remember No SAD.

There are a thousand ways — they are directed at the Ghost (the Story), paradoxically recognizing that the energy is being directed both in fantasy and in reality. My favorite ways are:

  • taking a baseball bat or tennis racquet to a heavy bag or mattress (being careful of how I swing, and of the bounce-back of the bat).
  • screaming (simple noise, or yelling what I really wanted to say) — screaming from my pelvis with an open throat, not from my throat directly — otherwise it hurts my throat.
    • if I am worried about noise, I scream into a pillow contained within a bowl. Or I scream silently, breathing into the scream without noise.
  • pushing in a door frame, pushing from the pelvis, not the back. Or push with upper body.

The important point is full release to the point of exhaustion. Then the message is available.

The difficulty here is that of stopping before full release — we get scared of the energy (often at an other-than-conscious level) and stop before full release, “thinking” we have done enough.

Coming next: The Message of Your Anger

Anger #24r The Third Set Of Emails

So sad.

Comment: We are getting close to the end of the series; I hope you are gaining benefit from it.

MacQuarrie Email Review #03 — The Third Set of Emails

From my perspective, the past eight emails (#17-#24) have included important topics:

  • blocks to awareness, and why we avoid
  • knowing and living values (rather than beliefs)
  • perspective (the distortions you bring) and truth testing
  • self-care and forgiveness: living peacefully

And there are a few more emails to go, largely loose ends and miscellaneous topics that have to do with anger management and conflict: (#25 and #26) expanding upon the Blowing Out process, (#27) resolving difficulties, (#28) relationships and intimacy, (#29) responding to children, and #30 (dealing with other angry people), plus there will be a 31st email on loose ends and closure.

Overall, I hope you have benefitted from the program, maybe even enjoyed it.

Question: Have you gotten your outcome, both from Email #01 and the overall program that I am offering in these emails? If you have not, what do you need to do? Ask questions of me? Become more disciplined? Is this program being effective for you? Now is the time to plan.

[At the end of the course, I will be asking for you to send me feedback, partly so that I can know to what extent the program is being effective, and also to make improvements along the way. Please think about what you have gained, what has worked for you and what has not worked, and pass it on to me at the conclusion of the course.]

Probably the most important question I can ask you (of any issue, not just anger) is: What is the positive intention of your anger, in any instance, in every instance? What do you gain by being angry, in this instance? (Most people can tell me what they lose by being angry. However, the more important question is what do you gain — because, until you can find another way to accomplish this positive intention, it is likely that you will continue the pattern of your anger.)

And in the larger scope, what do you need to do so as to continue the advances you have made? Fundamentally your growth as a human being can be unlimited, and unending. It does not just stop with these emails.

There are some fundamentals that can guide the process.

Landmark #1: In the book The Road Less Traveled, the author Scott Peck starts the first page, first paragraph with “Life is difficult.” (I would add ‘sometimes, and recurring.’) Paragraph two of the book indicates this is a great truth, the first Noble Truth of the Buddha. He then goes on to say that once one truly accepts that life is difficult, then life is no longer difficult — because once one truly accepts that life is difficult, then the fact that life is difficult no longer matters. One simply gets on with life! Thus to the extent that you are complaining about life’s difficulties, you have not learned this lesson.

Landmark #2: To what extent do you have compassion for others, and yourself? When my wife and I had our day-retreat center, our flyer stated:

No one is perfect; we all fall down.

The measure of maturity is not that we fall down,

But in how we arise,

And how we assist others when they fall down.

Landmark #3
: the Adaptive Skills. People who function effectively have well-developed Adaptive Skills (a concept developed by a colleague John Scherer) — these are the skills that one develops from early childhood onwards, skills that make you who you are. Are you:

  • easy to talk with? (your relationship to authority)
  • emotionally and cognitively available?
  • able to delay gratification? (bracketing anxiety)
  • aware of your self? (your self-concept, your congruence, your management of your shadow)
  • adaptive? (flexible to your impact on others, especially in conflict)

These are profound skills that you only develop through extensive personal growth, especially by exploring the feedback of others as to how they experience you. Risk revealing yourself!

PersonalGrowth3Landmark #4: the difference between personal growth and therapy. As a human being, I can never fully know myself — ideally I am always expanding into new areas. Some parts I simply have no awareness of, conscious or other-than-conscious — I simply have never explored these parts (the pale green of the accompanying diagram). This is personal growth.

Other parts I have hidden from myself — as a child (usually), things happened and they were very painful. I survived, I adapted, but I kept these parts hidden — they were too painful (the red areas). Now, as an adult, I am a past master at avoiding awareness of these areas of myself — I keep them behind a very thick wall, and I seldom come close to the wall (except when I fall into my rage or other emotions of powerlessness). This wall represents my blocks to awareness (Emails #17-#19). Challenging these blocks, creating holes in the wall, is the task of therapy.

Personal growth can be accomplished with processes such as provided by these emails. Therapy is more dicey — the main reason I (or you) need a therapist is so that a skilled person can give me feedback as to how I avoid recognition of the wall, and thus avoid development of the Adaptive Skills. Ideally the therapist also challenges me to punch holes in the wall, changing the ways in which I block awareness.

So how can you know if your awareness is blocked? Answer: Are you living the Serenity Prayer? Are you picking yourself up when you fall down? Are you living with compassion, for self and other?

Only you can know if you need to work with a therapist; only you can know if you can afford to work with a therapist — it is expensive, but you can be selective to find a good therapist. (I was fortunate in that I had a professional career that gave me adequate income so as to afford costs.) You can avoid much of the costs if you will challenge yourself to do the work of personal growth in a disciplined fashion. And if you are organized in studying your limitations, you can then go to a therapist with selective issues. You need to be in charge of your own therapy, and negotiate with your therapist as to what are your needs — you do not need weekly appointments for years at a time. You do need to develop a working relationship of sufficient depth to allow exploring.

Anger #24 Forgiveness (Letting Go)

Comment: Although I note this email as perhaps the most important of the series, it is only possible to utilize this email effectively, especially long-term, if the rest of the program is developed.

MacQuarrie Email Program #24 — Forgiveness (Letting Go)

Forgiveness3Welcome. This email is perhaps the most important email of the entire series — forgiveness. It is again longer than usual (three pages instead of two), so as to teach a specific skill.

So what is forgiveness? Often it is misunderstood, because it has almost nothing to do with the other person or the events of the past. Forgiveness is the letting go of the energy so as to be peaceful with the future; alternatively it is letting go of the hope for a different past. We hold on to our resentments, hoping that the other will change — but the major person being hurt is ourselves, not the other (who may not care or even know of our lack of forgiveness). Even if we forgive, we must still protect ourselves from further harm in the future — we simply do not carry unnecessary energy about the issues.

The task of this email is to explore your own issues, and develop processes for forgiveness. The most important questions I (or you) can ask myself in these issues are:

  1. What is the positive intention of my anger/resentment?
  2. What do I gain by being angry/resentful?
  3. What would I lose if I let go of my anger/resentment?

For those issues that you truly want to let go, we can now explore two major processes.

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

I first encountered EFT at a workshop in 2002  (?) — it seemed as hokey as anything I had ever encountered. I also did not have much use for it myself — most of my life issues were resolved.

However when I used it on clients (and to a limited extent on myself), I was astounded — it worked! And it soon became my tool of choice when I did not know what else to do. A client would start to discuss an issue, and I would be saying to myself “What the h— am I to do in response to this?” So I would use EFT — and the issue resolved. This could be anything from childhood pain that was 50 years old to a woman struggling with PMS. Amazing!

It also became part of my standard demonstration protocol for my anger weekends. Easily learned, clients would continue to use it at home. Of the clients who only attended the weekend workshop, I am uncertain as to how many continued to use it; but with the ongoing group clients, relief continued. I cannot demonstrate its being used, but I invite you to explore the process. However, there is a detailed free description of the full process at If ineffective, let me know, and we can find another way to explore it.

You could also consider finding a workshop on EFT — the process has become popular, and more regulated. Originally the training was free, and easily accessed; now it is regulated, and costs.

On the end of this, I describe the process in detail. The process involves light tapping on your body at specific locations, for example:

  • The Sore Point: gently massage the front-center of your chest (either side) about 1-2” from the midline, just to the side of the sternum (chest bone). Find a point that is slightly tender — this is the Sore Point.
  • The Karate Point: the little finger side of the hand.
  • The Gamat Point: make a fist, and look at the back of your hand (either side). Notice the knuckles of the little finger and ring finger. About 1” up from the knuckles, touch the soft space between the associated bones — this is the Gamut Point.
  • The Collar Bone Point: touch the notch at the top of your sternum, and shift 1” to either side. The boney prominence is the Collar Bone Point.
  • When tapping the fingers (Thumb – Little Finger), tap at the side of the nail. You do not need to tap the 3rd finger (ring finger).

The whole process seems a bit weird (or perhaps, a lot weird), but again, I assure you that it became my first approach to issues that were resistant to other approaches, and I was frequently astonished by its effectiveness. So give it a go, and see what happens.

Laughter Yoga

Although not directly a method of forgiveness, I suggest that the process of Laughter Yoga is a powerful tool for creating positive states that contribute to forgiveness.

Although I am no longer active in the field, I was a friend of the founder Madan Kataria, a Mumbai-based cardiologist who was concerned about the stress levels of his patients (and of himself). As part of his explorations, he read the book Laughter Is The Best Medicine, and really took the message to heart — over a few years, he founded an international organization consisting of small groups of people who gathered daily or weekly to engage in spontaneous laughter. There are currently more than 10,000 such clubs around the world.

Early on, he recognized that humor is not necessary for laughter, and that groups can engage in “silly” activities to encourage spontaneity and expression of amusement. The word silly itself originally meant happy or prosperous, but like many words later became critical or disparaging.

So what is laughter? It is a release of tension, and promotes mirth, a very healing experience.

  • Humor — the quality that something seem amusing [unexpectedly].
  • Laughter — the spontaneous act of expressing amusement (tension release).
  • Mirth — the continuing physiologic joyfulness of laughter.

Think of how you feel after a good joke. Do you have any interest in being angry? What happens to your resentments, at least temporarily. Question: Are you willing to risk feeling better?

Although most people only access laughter through humor, it is very easy to access if you are willing to be silly, to engage as if being a small child delighted with events. I invite you to watch a particular video, Bodhisattva In Metro, as a sampler. I watch it daily — I seldom tire of it.

Angry#24-LaughterAnd I know its effectiveness. As part of my PhD research, I studied the nature of discipline. The graph shows the results of the monitoring of my sense of personal well-being over a period of several months: every day, I gave myself a score of how I was feeling over-all (-10 to +10). In the upper left (A), I did a daily prayer of 15 minutes — minimal effect. Daily laughter (upper right, B) for 21 days: gradual increase to +8. Vipassana meditation (lower left, C) for 10 days: gradual return to base line. Laughter resumed: rapid increase to +9. Alternating Prayer-Laughter-Vipassana (D): persistence of +10. I was astounded! And now it is simply part of my daily routines.

Like all disciplines, I let it go from time to time, but when I resume, I get the same outcome. I feel better, the way I want to feel! It is a choice. I also suspect it to offer two additional benefits: it is the basis of forgiveness and it is the basis of play (to be considered shortly). Enjoy!

Coming next: Managing Yourself While Angry


Emotional Freedom Technique (see

Basic assumption:

The cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body’s energy system.


Memorize The Basic Recipe. Use it on any emotional or physical problem by customizing it with an appropriate Setup affirmation and Reminder Phrase. Be specific where possible, and aim EFT at the specific emotional events in one’s life that may underlie the problem. Where necessary, be persistent until all aspects of the problem have vanished; fractionate the problem as needed.

Try it on everything!! Until you are comfortable with the process, I suggest that you do not use it on issues that you think you should release — for learning purposes, use it on issues that you truly want to release.


  1. Identify issue in 3-4 words (this is the reminder phrase, RP). Associate fully into the experience, and assign a subjective units of distress (SUDS, 0-10).
  1. The Setup . . . Repeat this affirmation of the RP 3 times, while continuously rubbing the Sore Spot (chest), or tapping the Karate Chop point:

Even though I have this (RP), I deeply and completely accept myself.

  1. The Sequence . . . Tap about 7 times on each of the following energy points while repeating the Reminder Phrase at each point.

EB, SE, BE, BN, Ch, CB, BA, BN, Th, IF, MF, BF, KC

       EB: Eyebrow     SE: Side eye     BE: Below eye     BN: Below nose    Ch: Chin

      CB: Collarbone    BA: Below armpit  BN: Below nipple    Th: Thumb     IF: Index finger

MF: Middle finger    BF: Baby finger  (Note: skip of 3rd finger)     KC: Karate chop area.

  1. The 9 Gamut Procedure . . . Continuously tap on the Gamut Point (back of hand near and between 3rd and 4th knuckles) while performing each of these 9 actions:

(I) Eyes closed     (2) Eyes open    (3) Eyes look down hard right

(4) Eyes look down hard left   (5) Roll eyes in circle  (6) Roll eyes in other direction

(7) Hum 4 seconds of a song    (8) Count to 5    (9) Hum 4 seconds of a song.

  1. The Sequence (again) . . . Tap about 7 times on each of the following energy points while repeating the Reminder Phrase at each point.

EB, SE, BE, DN, Ch, CB, BA, BN, Th, IF, MF, BF, KC

Use the Basic Recipe up to ten (10) times on the issue, until the SUDs comes to zero (Ø) on two consecutive occasions.

            If two Øs are not achieved, check your need to hold onto the issue. If appropriate, fractionate the issue into smaller chunks, and eliminate these until resolution.

Note: In subsequent sessions, the Setup affirmation and the Reminder Phrase are adjusted to reflect the fact that you are addressing the remaining problem.

Anger #23 — The Primary Skills of Self-Care

Comment: Herein I describe with I consider to be the primary skills of self-care, those skills that keep me stable and able to be (relatively) relaxed with what life offers. Self-care requires time, but essentially if I do not take care of myself, I am not able to gift to others. Nor will anyone else effectively take care of me.


MacQuarrie Email Program #23 — The Primary Skills of Self-Care

In my 40s, I had a very painful mid-life transition as I came to terms with how my life had developed to that point (fortunately the second half of my life has been much better, frequently painful but much better). In the earlier mid-life transition (and also later in my eldership transition), I found that I needed to spend up to 3 hours per day in self-care, and came to regard three skills as essential to my health: meditation, journal writing, and yoga. Even then, I still needed a fourth skill, that of energy release, but the primary skills of emotional stability were these three. Energy release provide acute care; the others that of chronic care.

Meditation allows me to stabilize my energy, my anxiety, so as to have a sense of peacefulness. It later became the way in which I practiced awareness. Journal writing allowed me to clarify my thinking. Eventually it became my ¿Truths? and my writings (my books, my blog, et cetera). Yoga allowed me to ground myself in my body, to grasp the nature of emotional energy.

Here in this email, and as part of your tasks for this time, I will describe each in turn as to how I practice(d) these skills. As task for this email, please explore each skill (and plan to engage in at least one of the skills on a more regular basis). This email is much longer than usual (four pages instead of two) because I wish to describe certain skills in detail (see below).

Meditation (Mindfulness Practice or Vipassana)

I initially picked up meditation in my training as a Gestalt therapist, using the Now I Am Aware Of (NIAA) exercise of Email #03 Awareness. A number of years later I attended my first 10-day vipassana meditation retreat, and recognized that vipassana was an advanced form of awareness, studied within Buddhism for over two millennia. Subsequently I came to realize that every authentic religion has its own practice of awareness, generally called contemplation.

The practice is simple (yet one is always a beginner to the practice): Sit! (or walk), while attending to the data that arises, without judgment as to the nature of the data. Have some gentle way of reminding yourself of time, with the intention to practice anywhere between 20 and 60 minutes (a minimum time period is necessary for the mind to begin to settle). Do it daily!

You can use a mantra (a keyword) as a focus, but the skill is still that of returning to awareness when you drift away (you will, always — that is the nature of the mind). For example, if the focus is that of counting slowly from 1 to 10, then simply count quietly to yourself. As you do, your mind will drift to other thoughts; perhaps you will totally lose track of counting. When you notice that you have drifted, gently come back to the focus of counting, starting again at 1 — no judgment, no criticism, simply return to 1, and resume, until the next drifting. In all of this, if you drift into story, simply note “story,” and return to counting. If you reach 10, simply return to 1.

Specific mantras are useful as reminders, e.g., love, acceptance, Yahweh (one possible origin of the name Yahweh is that it is the sound of the in-breath followed by the out-breath), et cetera. Or, name the sensations as with the NIAA practice.

Meditation is my preferred way of accessing my other-than-conscious mind; it allows me to by-pass my analytic functioning, accepting what is presented. I have very much learned to trust it.

To continue your practice, find a mindfulness course, or go to a vipassana meditation course.

Journal Writing (The Progoff Journal)

Journal writing can be as simple as keeping a diary, or it can be an integrated study of many facets of your life. Principally it is a way to record how your life is changing over time.

The most sophisticated journal I know is called a Progoff Journal, with many branches. If you can, find a workshop on it. The additional pages of this email are from this process:

  • Progoff Stepping Stones: a method of developing your life history.
  • Progoff Journal Entry: a method of exploring any issue.

Yoga (Hatha Yoga)

Historically, Yoga is the scientific investigation of consciousness within Hinduism, very similar to vipassana as being the scientific investigation of consciousness within Buddhism.

The practice of Yoga in the West has principally been an exercise form, the branch of yoga known as Hatha Yoga. Here one practices yoga postures (which are actually actions in stillness), designed to explore body energy in relationship to gravity. There are many teachers (styles are often named after specific teachers), often with major differences between the styles. Some styles I consider dangerous: e.g., Astanga Yoga and Bikram Yoga (hot yoga). For me, these popular styles encourage rapid movements, and are very stressful to body joints —the associated joint injuries are likely cumulative, slow to develop, and very slow to heal.

My own Hatha Yoga practice, that of Iyengar Yoga, is based upon the teaching B. K. S. Iyengar. I consider it the most precise form of investigation, and offering the greatest depth of awareness.

Over time, especially through my own practice of yoga, I came to the conclusion that life energy is stored in two locations: 1) in the story, and 2) in the small muscles of body (this is at least my working metaphor). I suggest you do a google search of Muscle Charts of the Human Body, for example, here. What you will see is what I call the Muscles of Mobility (MM) — the large, easily visible muscles whereby we move. But they are not the muscles which hold energy. Deep to these large muscles are the many tiny muscles with hold the bones together, what I call the Muscles of Stability (MS). It is these that carry energy. In Western exercise patterns, people exercise the Muscles of Mobility — such exercise, although fatiguing, does not provide much energetic release!

Angry#23a-Yoga1Imagine a rubber band (MM) attached to a spring (MS). When you pull the two ends, the rubber band stretches, but not much happens with the spring. Now pull directly on the spring: the exploration of Yoga — in stillness, minimizing the Muscles of Mobility while activating the Muscles of Stability.

Angry#23b-Yoga2Furthermore, my experience is that there is a paradoxical effect. We exercise to strengthen our musculature — that is generally why we go to the gym. In so doing, we utilize the Muscles of Mobility, and activate them to sub-maximal load. They strengthen over time.

But what about the emotional energy stored in the musculature? Does “exercise” strengthen that also? Yes, anger and other emotions are strengthened by gossiping and complaining! —  the equivalent of sub-maximal load.

However, what I am suggesting is supra-maximal load, thus exhausting the energy. It is this that empties the pot, such that you are now able to think more clearly.

Coming next: Forgiveness


Progoff Stepping Stones

Dr. Ira Progoff, an American psychologist, developed an in-depth process called the Intensive Journal Method; in my experience, this methodology is the most comprehensive journal available. As part of the process, he devised a manner of recording an autobiography based on the intensity of memories, — as follows (the process requires about one hour):

Warning: the first time I did this exercise, I sobbed deeply and painfully for 30 minutes.

15m    In free-form writing, list memories from your whole life; attempt to list these memories as 1-2 words, only as reminders. Obtain as many memories as possible (ideally at least 50-100, both pleasant or unpleasant). Do not dwell; simply record the memories briefly.

5m      Review memories briefly, and circle those that have significant energy attached (strongly pleasant or unpleasant memories). Indicate your age with each significant memory.

10m    Divide your current age by 10 to obtain the closest whole number (these are the Stepping Stone divisions). On a new piece of paper, create a one-column table corresponding to this number of SS divisions. Transfer significant memories (those circled) to the appropriate age slots so as to develop a chronology of significant memories.

10m    Pick one memory from each SS row — give it a specific 1-2 word name. List these chronologically on a separate page, again as a one-column table, the “Stepping Stone Record.” One row blank is no problem; avoid two rows blank (find a memory).

30m    Describe each memory in more detail, as:

  1. I am ___ years old and … (briefly describe sensory details of the memory), and
  2. It is a time of … (describe the energy tone of the memory).


SS#1   Hospital Walk

I am 3 years old, standing alone on the street in front of the hospital window, looking for my mother. She has been absent from home for 2 years with TB. I have just walked ½ mile alone through busy Halifax streets.

It is a time of great pain, yet I feel an inner strength.


Stepping Stone Record Format

Name: _______________ Date: ____________________

For each Stepping Stone (usually 8-12 in number), list:

SS#     Name: _______________________________

I am _____ years old and _____________________________________

It is a time of _______________________________________________

Finally: Read the completed Stepping Stone Record aloud, preferably to a close friend; or read it into a tape recorder, and listen to the recording as you hear yourself speak.


Progoff Journal Entries

This is a standardized format for the study of any issue. It allows the grouping of events (specific issues, e.g., angry with my partner over use of the car) into more general category (e.g., anger when not informed of changes). Specific sections of a journal can then be recorded, and made accessible for further study.

General Category of Issue:      _____________________.

Name of Specific Issue:          _____________________.

10m       Free-form writing on the issue

5m       List memories of life events of issue (1-2 word descriptors)

1m       Circle the major memories (high energy memories).

5m       List metaphors: (this issue) is like . . .

1m       Circle major metaphors (high energy metaphors)

10m       Impact on my life (1 minute each topic)

Important persons at the time of this issue.

Important personal events at the time of this issue.

Important social/cultural events at the time of this issue.

Impact on my body.

Impact on my sexuality.

Impact on my relationships.

Impact on my work.

Impact on my dream life.

Impact on my hopes for the future.

Existing wisdom I already have of this issue.

10m       Music Meditation (loud music can both focus the OOC and distract.

20m       Dialogue with metaphor or meditation.


Summary:      Summarize writing, metaphors, impact and dialogue (max 1 page).

Journal Record Format (Name of Category: _______________)

Name of Issue: ________________________________________ Date: ________________

Summary of Free-form Writing ________________________________________________

Most important Metaphors: ____________________________________________________

Impact on My Life: __________________________________________________________

Summary of Dialogue learnings: _______________________________________________