Sunday, June 2013 ~ S.T.O.P. (Stop, Take-a-Breath, Observe, Proceed)
Implementing S.T.O.P. towards more mindful dialogue…
STOP apparently was the creation of an MBSR participant a few years ago that has become a popular practice in MBSR training.
Stop. Stopping allows us to intentionally step out of our customary automatic reactivity first by becoming fully aware that being swept along in automatic reactivity is taking place at this moment.
Take a breath (or 3 breaths) (or 360 breaths!). Bringing conscious awareness to the breath allows us to continue the process of stopping, becoming stable in and present for this moment or these moments.
Observe the situation. Having stopped and brought full awareness to the present moment experience allows us to observe what is going on at this moment with greater emotional balance and clarity. We can be more objective and less judgmental.
Proceed. Having observed a situation with greater emotional balance and clarity, we are now in a better position to proceed to take action, likely in a wiser and more productive way than if we had not stopped but acted reactively and automatically. Note that sometimes we will determine, having taken the opportunity to stop and observe, that the best way to proceed is at this moment to take no action at all!
STOP is not to be confused with indecisiveness. It is not a cumbersome layer of mental subcommittees requiring interminable delays before taking action. The entire process could take place within a few seconds, depending on the situation. At other times it might require withdrawing oneself from an emotionally charged situation and sitting with the breath for at least a few minutes before proceeding. What it really does is greatly expand our options for how best to respond to any given situation.
In the context of S.T.O.P. – how one “Proceeds” – will be fodder for future posts, however its intention: to offer a moment to pause & then best discern what is of greatest import...
Finally, last week we explored a bit of what Christopher Lasch once characterized as the Culture of Narcissism (in the context of how to find our ‘communicative center-of-gravity’). As luck would have it, in the intervening days a real-time example of this tendency to diagnose (which — full disclosure — I am as prone to engage in as anyone, yet is distinct from Marshall Rosenberg’s prescription, namely to discern the universal human needs) unfolded, making for fascinating viewing… (Try it out for yourself, identify the myriad of values at stake, i.e. loyalty, safety, etc. or just take one — like “integrity” — and track it as an underlying theme in each of the following as they frame this current event): Commentators Jeffrey Toobin (in The New Yorker) and David Brooks (on PBS) referred to the N.S.A. Leaker, Edward Snowden, as a “grandiose narcissist” while former Director of both the NSA & CIA, Michael Hayden said just this morning, “No, no, that’s not the issue. It’s people of this personality type having access to this issue.” Conversely, WaPo’s Barton Gellman appearing on Charlie Rose refuted this diagnostic hypothesis, offering that in his line of investigative reportage/work, he’s become a rather decent judge of character, and observed no signs of this (Snowden speaking for himself as to his motives: “Perhaps I am naive,” Snowden replied, “but I believe that at this point in history, the greatest danger to our freedom and way of life comes from the reasonable fear of omniscient State powers kept in check by nothing more than policy documents.” The steady expansion of surveillance powers, is “such a direct threat to democratic governance that I have risked my life and family for it.”). It’s perhaps worth noting that a friend/character-witness of Snowden’s writing an op-ed and then appearing on MSNBC confirmed that, Snowden thought ‘long and hard before coming to a decision,’)
Journalists Chris Hedges, James Bamford and James Risen seemed to be in alignment with Snowden’s concerns of a surveillance state that could readily tip into a police state in which the Fourth Estate would be neutered (think of how Watergate might not have played out in the current technologic Big Brother context).
I’m sorry. One of the things that really I think concerns people is that you’ve created something that never existed in America history before, and that is a surveillance state. The infrastructure that I’m basically using software technology and data mining and eavesdropping, very sophisticated technology to create an infrastructure that a police state would love.
And that’s what really should concern Americans, is because we haven’t had a full national debate about the creation of a massive surveillance state and surveillance infrastructure, that if we had some radical change in our politics could lead to a police state.
CHRIS HEDGES: Well, what we’re really having a debate about is whether or not we’re going to have a free press left or not. If there are no Snowdens, if there are no Mannings, if there are no Assanges, there will be no free press. And if the press—and let’s not forget that Snowden gave this to The Guardian. This was filtered through a press organization in a classic sort of way whistleblowers provide public information about unconstitutional, criminal activity by their government to the public. So the notion that he’s just some individual standing up and releasing stuff over the Internet is false.
But more importantly, what he has exposed essentially shows that anybody who reaches out to the press to expose fraud, crimes, unconstitutional activity, which this clearly appears to be, can be traced and shut down. And that’s what’s so frightening. So, we are at a situation now, and I speak as a former investigative reporter for The New York Times, by which any investigation into the inner workings of government has become impossible. That’s the real debate.
CHRIS HEDGES: Well, if—that is what an act of conscience is. And reporters live—our sort of daily fare is built, investigative reporters, off of people who, within systems of power, have a conscience to expose activities by the power elite which are criminal in origin or unconstitutional. And that’s precisely what he did. And he did it in the traditional way, which was going to a journalist, Glenn Greenwald and The Guardian, and having it vetted by that publication before it was put out to the public. Was it a criminal? Well, yes, but it was—I suppose, in a technical sense, it was criminal, but set against the larger crime that is being committed by the state. When you have a system by which criminals are in power, criminals on Wall Street who are able to carry out massive fraud with no kinds of repercussions or serious regulation or investigation, criminals who torture in our black sites, criminals who carry out targeted assassinations, criminals who lie to the American public to prosecute preemptive war, which under international law is illegal, if you are a strict legalist, as apparently Professor Stone is, what you’re in essence doing is protecting criminal activity. I would argue that in large sections of our government it’s the criminals who are in power.
Via — Democracy Now!
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was General Keith Alexander. Your response?
JAMES BAMFORD: Well, there’s one area that I agree with him, and that’s the information that the public is getting—that the public is getting is incorrect. But it’s incorrect because it’s coming from Keith Alexander and the administration. What’s incorrect is the fact that you had General Clapper up there denying in Congress that the U.S. was engaged in any of this kind of activity. General Alexander—well, I wrote about this. Basically, the same things that are coming out from Mr. Snowden, I wrote about in Wired last year in a cover story, where I interviewed Bill Binney and so forth, and they verbally told me basically the same thing. And very soon after, Keith Alexander came out denying all this, which is—gives me a lot of thought about what might have been going through Snowden’s mind, for example.
If he sees the other whistleblowers coming out, like Bill Binney, other people, Tom Drake and so forth, and they come out and say that the government is doing these things, and then the administration and NSA comes out and says, “That’s not true. We’re not doing them,” and then the mainstream media sort of just follows in line—falls in line with the NSA position, you know, what could go through somebody’s mind is, well, the only way to actually get attention to this is show the real documents, show what really is going on. And you can’t deny, if you’re—deny it, if you’re actually looking at a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order that actually shows that all these telephone records are being collected, even local records, on a daily basis. So, that’s the problem, is this escalation. You try to tell the public what’s going on; the administration denies it. Well, what’s next? You’ve got to show the proof. You’ve got to show the documents.
Upon hearing Ana Marie Cox refer to Snowden as “being a little cracked” –
I couldn’t help but recall the quote: