MEDITATION IS A WAY to cultivate certain
states of mind. For example, Metta meditation cultivates
feelings of friendliness. Mindfulness meditation cultivates
a state of freedom from biological drives and conditioned responses.
Mantra meditation cultivates a state of relaxed alertness.
Mantra is the kind of meditation we will concern ourselves with
in this section.
Researchers have amassed quite a bit of
data on what mantra meditation does, and when you add it all
up it's pretty impressive. Meditation is so good for you in so
many ways, I almost called this article, Why You're an Idiot
if You Don't Meditate.
During mantra meditation, the amount of
adrenaline in being released into your blood goes down. While
meditating, your cortisol level drops and stays low for hours
afterward. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone although there
are several stress hormones, including adrenaline. But cortisol
is one of the most important. It is present in your blood in
small amounts all the time, but when you experience stress, your
body produces quite a bit of it, and in high amounts, it has
unhealthy and unpleasant effects. Getting it out of your blood
stream, in contrast, has healthy and pleasant effects.
An interesting side note: A high level
of cortisol makes your body store extra fat in your abdomen and
makes you crave fattening foods with extra intensity. The Journal
of the American Dietetic Association reported that stress in
general is a "primary predictor of relapse and overeating."
And they concluded that meditation is an effective method for
managing the kind of stress that causes weight gain.
Another ingredient of your bloodstream
that changes during meditation is lactate. Lactate drops nearly
four times as fast while meditating as it does when you just
lie down and rest quietly. And the lactate stays lower afterwards.
Lactate is a byproduct of burning blood sugar, and when there
is a lot of it in the blood stream, it tends to produce feelings
After meditating, your reaction to stressful
events changes. Events that would normally make you feel stressed
don't make you feel as stressed, and your feelings of stress
don't last as long. In one study for example, the researchers
showed a film to people. This is a gruesome film that normally
makes people feel stressed, and measured from the outside, the
film increases their heart rate.
The researchers measured meditators and
nonmeditators. Here's what they found: the meditators' heart
rates didn't climb as high and returned to normal faster than
the nonmeditators. Some of the meditators in this study were
new to meditation. They also experienced less stress than nonmeditators,
showing that mantra meditation doesn't require a long time before
it starts having an effect.
In another experiment, researchers blasted
people with loud, annoying sounds. The meditators' bodies reacted
with significantly less stress than the nonmeditators.
Think about this simple effect. If you
meditate, your body will react less intensely to stressful events.
Think about what would happen as this effect accumulates day
after day. It could explain most of the health effects of meditation.
Stress hormones can be destructive. In occasional doses, they
aren't very harmful. In fact, in small amounts, they are necessary.
But when your body produces a lot of stress hormones often, it
is bad for your heart and bad for your immune system. And those
are two things you do not want to undermine! The two diseases
that kill the most people are heart disease and cancer. Here
is a "medicine" for these two deadly diseases, but
nobody has a patent on
I know we are each motivated by different
things. I might be most interested in feeling more calm. You
might be most motivated by a fear of dying of heart disease.
Another might look at it from a purely financial standpoint:
Meditation is a good investment because health problems are expensive.
Meditation not only mellows your body,
it mellows your mind. Herbert Benson, one of the most
prolific meditation researchers, wrote:
[During meditation], the individual's mental
patterns change so that he breaks free of what I call "worry
cycles." These are unproductive grooves or circuits that
cause the mind to "play" over and over again, almost
involuntarily, the same anxieties or uncreative, health-impairing
It not only mellows your mind, it increases
your alertness. During mantra meditation, blood-flow to the brain
increases while the body relaxes. Aginine-vasopressin (AVP) increases
four hundred percent during meditation. AVP is sometimes given
in synthetic form to people to reverse the mental dullness of
old age because it increases alertness.
This might be surprising to you. I mean,
here is an activity that everyone knows is relaxing. And yet
it increases alertness. It increases blood flow to the
brain. It is unusual in that way. It is a unique state, unlike
other states we are used to. In a sleeping state, you are relaxed
but less alert. In a very alert waking state, you are
less relaxed. But here is a state that produces alertness and
deep relaxation at the same time.
When you meditate, you become more effective
in the world. This is also news to many people. It makes you
more relaxed and less reactive to stressful events, so better
at dealing with people, better at handling conflict, and it increases
your alertness. It also improves your health, and you know that
you are more effective in the world healthy than unhealthy.
The owner of a Detroit manufacturing company
started a meditation experiment at his firm, and enrolled fifty-two
out of his one hundred employees to meditate twenty minutes before
work and twenty minutes at work on company time. The owner, R.W.
Montgomery, says, "Over the next three years, absenteeism
fell by 85%, productivity rose 120%, quality control rose 240%,
injuries dropped 70%, sick days fell by 16%, and profit soared
WHAT HAPPENS DURING MEDITATION
In many of the studies on meditation, researchers
have one group meditate for twenty minutes while another group
simply sits quietly for same amount of time. The physical effects
are dramatically different. Sitting quietly hardly changes a
thing. Meditating causes all kinds of changes in the body. The
question is: Why would that be so?
As you'll find out in a minute, during
meditation you rest your mind on a single thought. Sitting quietly,
on the other hand, allows your thoughts to roam. David
Barlow, the director of the Center for Stress and Anxiety Disorders
at the State University of New York-Albany, says, "If we
were somehow able to build a thought recorder, what we would
record would be just about every kind of thought imaginable
for the most part, fleeting."
What happens, according to the researcher,
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is that your thoughts bounce around
randomly until something catches your attention, and what often
catches your attention is something that bothers you.
Your mind stops roaming and sticks on the disturbing thought.
That's one reason why it can be so unrelaxing to just sit quietly.
I could go on about the effects of meditation,
and I've probably said too much as it is. If you would like to
know more, an excellent resource is Michael Murphy and Steven
Donovan's book, The Physical and Psychological Effects of Meditation:
A Review of Contemporary Research With a Comprehensive Bibliography.
HOW TO MEDITATE
Probably the easiest way to learn to meditate
is listen to an instructional audio program. Turn it on, close
your eyes, and follow instructions. Five Classic Meditations by Shinzen Young
is good. Also check out The Art of Meditation by the researcher Daniel
A good book on the subject is the
classic: The Relaxation Response by the researcher,
Herbert Benson. You not only get meditation instructions, but
a lot more information on the benefits of meditation. Another
good book is the classic How to Meditate: A Guide to Self-Discovery
by Lawrence LeShan.
You can start right away if you like by
using the following simple instructions. This is really all you
need to know to meditate successfully:
1. Sit in a comfortable position, but not
one that you can fall asleep in (not reclining in an easy chair,
2. Close your eyes and relax for a minute
3. Now begin to gently repeat a word or
a phrase to yourself, over and over at whatever pace or speed
you like. The word or phrase is your "mantra." Think
the mantra. And keep thinking the mantra for twenty minutes.
4. When you notice you have stopped thinking
your mantra, gently start up again.
5. When twenty minutes have passed, stop
thinking your mantra and sit quietly for a minute or so. Open
your eyes and go on about your day.
Go into the meditation slowly; sit for
a half a minute or so and just relax; then begin thinking the
mantra. When your time is up, sit quietly and relax, not thinking
the mantra. Open your eyes. Be there for a minute. Get up slowly.
Looking at a clock is better than setting an alarm because that
way you won't be startled out of your calm state.
Keep it limited to fifteen to twenty minutes
once or twice a day. Doing it more than that doesn't appear to
increase the benefits.
You don't have to hold still. If you've
got an itch, scratch it. If you need to adjust your position,
go right ahead.
Meditation is not difficult or frustrating.
In fact, that's a good way to tell if you're doing it wrong.
When you're doing it right, it is effortless and pleasant. Researchers
have found the same thing in biofeedback experiments: The only
participants who can't lower their blood pressure are the ones
who try too hard.
While you're meditating, it doesn't matter
if you spend a lot of time lost in thought or if you don't. When
you notice you are no longer thinking the mantra, start thinking
it again. Use very light intention. No forcing. No great effort.
Don't try to concentrate. Don't try to control your thoughts.
Don't try to control your feelings. Just notice when you're not
thinking your mantra and then begin gently to think it again.
Don't try to force yourself to think your mantra to the exclusion
of all other thoughts. Do not furrow your brow or expend effort.
Let the mantra come, as any other thoughts come, and if that
isn't enough, then encourage your mind to think it with a very
small, very gentle effort just enough to think the mantra.
Remember this, please: You're not trying
to concentrate or control your mind.
The individual meditation session may be
peaceful or it may be full of obsessive thought. Regardless,
daily meditation will have a positive effect on your health and
produce a general feeling of calm.
When you first begin, you might be amazed
at how often you're lost in thought. Equally amazing is that
you've never noticed how lost in thought you are. You've been
too lost in thought to notice!
WHAT WILL HAPPEN
Here's what you can expect: You'll say
the mantra to yourself for awhile and then your mind will drift.
After a little while, you'll notice you're not thinking your
mantra. That is what the human mind does. Do not try to get
better at this. You're not trying to increase your concentration.
You're not trying to make it the whole twenty minutes without
drifting off. The process that will give you the benefits is
to think the mantra until you notice you're not thinking the
mantra, and then start thinking the mantra again. Simple, easy.
No strain, no pain. It can get boring, but that's actually part
of the benefit. Boredom is on the opposite end of the spectrum
from anxiety or stress. Deep boredom is a deep non-anxiety. The
only difference between boredom and inner peace is how much you
welcome or appreciate the state.
Sometimes after you meditate, you'll feel
very calm and very good. Sometimes you won't feel much different.
It doesn't matter either way. Do not seek a certain feeling,
either during meditation or afterward. Meditation works in the
long haul regardless of the outcome of any particular twenty-minute
period. When you don't feel great afterwards, it doesn't mean
you're doing something wrong. Remember that. Return to your day
just as you return to your mantra in meditation. Just return
to it without anything else added.
In my diary many years ago, I wrote the
following: "I've been meditating twice a day for two weeks
now and today I had a frustrating time meditating and realized
I was trying to feel blissful. I gave that up when it occurred
to me it doesn't matter if it feels good or not, that all I need
to do is keep bringing my attention back to the mantra. At that
point, the meditation became blissful. But I kept meditating
It doesn't matter if it feels good at the
moment. Keep doing it, and you will reap the rewards, whether
it felt good or not. Meditation works. The key is not trying
to do it well.
You aren't trying to force thoughts out
or force yourself to think the mantra. It is very gentle. Every
now and then you'll realize you're not thinking the mantra and
you'll have a choice: Either go on thinking about whatever you
were thinking (which is tempting), or go back to the mantra.
While meditating, when you have a choice,
always choose the mantra, no matter how tempting it is
to keep thinking about something else. You'll have ten to fifty
of these choice points in a twenty-minute period. Always choose
the mantra. The process of gently returning to the mantra calms
an agitated mind and trains you in nongrasping nongreediness,
which is very good for your life, which I'll get to in a moment.
The reason you sit up rather than lie down
is to keep you from falling asleep. You'll be so bored sometimes
you'll start to fall asleep, but as your body starts to fall
over, it wakes you up. So you ride that edge between being awake
and asleep, and somehow resting in that place causes good things
to happen in your body.
If you usually have a very hard time staying
awake during your meditation, it means you aren't getting enough
sleep. Or you're trying to meditate during "slump time"
most of us feel sleepy around three in the afternoon.
Keep in mind that not getting enough sleep
is itself a source of excess stress hormones. And according
to those who study the subject, a large percentage of us are
chronically sleep-deprived. If you're one of them, it may be
that all you have to do to feel less stressed in your life is
get enough sleep.
THE WORD OR PHRASE
I have experimented with lots of mantras.
The one I like most is an instruction: "Gently bring attention
back." All you're trying to do in meditation is to keep
bringing your attention back to thinking the mantra. This instruction
helps you remember. The instruction is also good for just about
every other task in your life, so it is an excellent thing to
I've noticed that when I stretch a little
before I meditate, I sit still more comfortably. I have heard
that hatha yoga was originally invented by meditating monks to
help them meditate. Whether it was or not, it does make
meditation easier. It is easier to sit the whole time in comfort
and without fidgeting after some gentle stretching.
The downside of meditation is that it takes
time. But it doesn't take as much time as you'd think because
the meditative state is deeply restful and you will probably
need less sleep. You can also justify the time you spend meditating
by thinking about how much time you will save that you now waste
on disagreements or upsets those become less frequent
and less intense when you meditate. And if you waste time obsessively
worrying, much of that time will be saved also. With a calmer
body, you have less anxious mental activity.
Since meditation is time-consuming and
often boring, you need to keep yourself motivated to keep yourself
doing it. Remind yourself of the costs of anxiety and the rewards
of keeping your stress hormone level low (re-read the first part
of this article now and then).
Transcendental Meditation, otherwise known
as "TM" is the McDonald's of the meditation business.
They have training centers all over the world and probably in
your town, and their training is very standardized and consistent.
Their particular form of meditation has had more scientific research
performed on it than any other meditation method and the comparative
studies show TM to be superior to other forms of meditation.
One of the reasons, I believe, is the education you get before
they teach you to meditate. You learn all about the benefits
you will derive from meditation the scientifically validated,
practical benefits so when it gets boring or tedious or
you don't feel you can afford the time, you do it anyway because
TM emphasizes the scientific research on
long-term physical health benefits. This is usually more motivating
to Westerners than a possible state of enlightenment (if it even
exists) maybe occurring some day, or the motivations of someone
in India a thousand years ago who believed they would be reincarnated
as a higher being.
There are lots of books and tapes explaining
the physical, scientifically-validated benefits of meditation.
If your motivation starts to lag, simply read about the benefits.
Boost your motivation.
Another reason TM might work better than
other forms of meditation is because they emphasize not trying,
not forcing, not using effort. A truly meditative, calm, concentrated
state is effortless. Effort will prevent that state from occurring.
Some meditation teachers emphasize effort and will, which may
be useful for other purposes, but doesn't help to lower stress.
DEALING WITH PEOPLE
The principles of human relations come
more naturally when you're calm and relaxed. The authors of the
book, Stress, Sanity and Survival, make a very
good point: In conflicts with other people, our general physical
arousal tends to make the conflict more destructive. When we
have extra stress hormones in our system, our conflicts will
tend to be less productive and more upsetting than otherwise.
And as they put it, "When we are excessively emotional we
become preoccupied with our own personal positions and less able
to understand the other's point of view. We also become more
defensive and less able to think clearly."
One of the most important things you can
do in a conflict is try to understand the other's point of view.
Having too many stress chemicals in your bloodstream makes that
much more difficult. Your inability to listen, your inability
to think outside your own point of view, and your tendency toward
defensiveness all intensify the conflict and prevent resolution.
Being upset makes you more self-righteous and stuck in your own
point of view. Being relaxed makes you less pigheaded and more
Once you're relaxed, arguments turn into
discussions. What would have been an upset gets resolved more
peaceably. That itself has a positive effect on health. Studies
show arguments with a spouse can have a deleterious effect on
Adrenaline narrows attention, and that
makes it harder to apply people skills, among other things. A
strict focus of attention is very useful for many things, but
it can be disastrous for other things. I remember hearing about
a graphic example of this. A true story. A group was making a
parachute jump. One of experienced jumpers was given a left-handed
chute because they didn't have enough regular, right-handed chutes
to go around. It worked exactly like the right-handed one except
the ripcord was on the left side instead of the right side.
They all made the jump. Then they watched
in horror as one of their men fell straight to his death. The
chute never opened. When they were back on the ground, they discovered
it was the man with the left-handed chute. His jacket on the
right side was torn and shredded, down to his skin which was
severely lacerated. Apparently the tunnel-vision his adrenaline
produced caused him to focus on pulling that ripcord, and made
him forget it was on the left side.
CONSIDER IT TRAINING
"Animal experiments on the hypothalamus
suggest that motivation is to some extent nonspecific,"
wrote Melvin Konner, PhD, MD, professor of anthropology and associate
professor of psychiatry. This means that basically, as he put
it, "the organism's chronic internal state will be a mixture
of anxiety and desire, best described by the phrase 'I want
That is exactly what Buddha taught.
The human brain is not equipped to deal
with as much diversion as we have in Western society. It isn't
equipped to handle so many options and so much stimulation. Yet
it is also not very good at resisting the temptations. The practice
of meditation functions as a kind of training it develops
the skill of serenely resisting temptations. Perhaps resisting
isn't the right word. It trains you in the skill of recognizing
temptations for what they are and thus not being as tempted by
Meditation is really training in letting
go of distractions. It is a way of breaking the grasping habit.
Of course this would have universal effects on all aspects of
your life, making you generally happier and more relaxed.
It is also a flow activity in itself and could reasonably
be considered a kind of flow training, allowing more daily
activities to produce flow for you as you learn to let go of
In Julian Simon's excellent book, Good Mood: The New Psychology of Overcoming Depression,
he talks about an important ability in overcoming depression
the ability to change the subject of the content of your
mind. This ability is also important in managing anxiety. Some
people don't think they can do this, but they can. "Of course,"
Simon says, "this means that you must be willing at times
to turn away from subjects of interest to you when they cause
you pain." The examples he uses are switching the content
of your mind away from your failures at work and toward your
family, or away from war in Africa and toward some technical
question. Anxious thoughts are every bit as compelling as depressed
thoughts, but with the right ability a skill meditation
can strengthen in you you can learn to give up your attachment
to those compelling thoughts and turn your attention to other
things when it is in your best interests to do so.
Simon says sometimes people think that
changing their thoughts is somehow dishonest. But he makes an
important distinction. Yes, it can be dishonest to deny the truth
of something, and it isn't very smart to ignore unpleasant thoughts,
especially if it will cause you trouble down the road to ignore
them. "But for those facts which you cannot alter,"
he says, " a chronic ailment perhaps, or a low pay
level in one's chosen occupation then there seems neither
practical nor moral virtue in keeping oneself constantly aware
of the fact
to do so is simply foolhardy and counterproductive."
Will meditation make me less motivated? Will the increased contentment
take away my drive and ambition?
Motivation can be broken down into two categories: sufficiency
and deficiency. Sufficiency motivation is satisfied or contented
motivation. For example, doing something because it feels good,
or because you want something good to happen, or to make something
Deficiency motivation is agitated or needy motivation. For example,
doing something in an effort to prove something to someone, or
striving out of agitation, or because you think you aren't good
enough, or out of the perpetual dissatisfaction we are genetically
designed to have.
Meditation enhances sufficiency motivation
but diminishes deficiency motivation.
THE PROMISE OF ENLIGHTENMENT
In a cultural anthropology class in college
I learned that some seemingly strange customs around the world
actually have practical value. For example, the "sacred
cow" of India. For thousands of years, the majority of Indians
were farmers and the cow was their only work animal and often
their only source of fuel for cooking. Had they eaten their cows,
their livelihood would have been ruined.
Perhaps the practical rule "don't
eat cows" over the centuries developed into a religious
creed full of significance because those who didn't have that
kind of belief ate their cows and perished, leaving behind only
those with a reverence for the cow.
Maybe the idea of enlightenment is like
that. It is possible that "enlightenment" is a religious
reason a carrot to get people to meditate. The
meditation is really what's valuable. It keeps you cool on hot
days, keeps you out of trouble, makes you require less food,
keeps you calm and relaxed and so a more benign member of society,
and it's good for your health. And you'll feel good more often.
Meditation is of great practical value,
but maybe that wasn't enough to get people to do it. That was
then; this is now in a different time with a new understanding
of how things work. Luckily, a knowledge of the scientific-proven
benefits of meditation is enough to keep modern people meditating.
Stress hormones keep you from feeling good.
The mind is naturally agitated and motivated in many directions
at once wanting and avoiding thoughts and circumstances.
Meditation is a method to cultivate a calm,
relaxed, alert state of mind. It is a great state to be in. It
feels good. It improves many important skills communicating,
interacting with people, focusing on a task without getting distracted,
being patient when impatience is counterproductive.
Herbert Benson described the experience
of meditation like this:
1. Peace of mind.
2. Feeling at ease with the world.
3. A sense of well-being
One of the things meditation does is relax
you. Then thoughts intrude sometimes stressful thoughts
but then you go back to your mantra. You are then continually
associating those stressful thoughts with a state of deep relaxation.
This is exactly what therapists do in a form of therapy called
Systematic Desensitization, which has proven very effective for
many psychological problems such as phobias.
One of the benefits of meditation is that
you enjoy your life more. This benefit partly stems from the
sensory-deprivation effect combined with the contrast principle.
When you deprive yourself of normal sensory input for awhile,
your brain adjusts. Then when you get ordinary input again, it
seems dramatically bright, sensuous and clear.
In the book, Papillon, the author, Henri Charriere, talks
about his time in a Columbian prison. He violated a prison rule
and was sent to a dungeon a dark place, built so every
day when the tide came in, the cell filled up to waist-level
with water, putting all the rats afloat. If you just stood there
in the water, the rats would climb all over you, seeking escape
from the water. So the prisoners had to climb up on the bars
and hang there while the tide was high, twice a day. The cell
was slimy and smelly afterwards.
Papillion was down there for twenty-eight
days. When he came back to a regular prison cell, he said
it was like being in a palace, and this was a cell that was already
what anyone would consider very bad! But the contrast between
the two made this terrible cell a wonderful place to be.
Meditation is dark and quiet without much
sensory input, and it often feels boring, so it's possible that
meditation makes the rest of your life seem wonderful just from
the contrast. It is easier to appreciate the simple joys of everyday
life. And really, that's where you'll find happiness. Big successes
and dramatic events are all well and good, but whether or not
you feel contentment and happiness in your life depends on your
ability to appreciate the small everyday pleasures. Meditation
helps you do that.
In still another way, meditation makes
life more enjoyable: It directly lowers cortisol and lactate,
hormones that produce unpleasant sensations as they circulate
in your body.
ADJUST YOUR ANXIETY SETTINGS
It is very likely that your nervous system
tends toward tension and anxiety when you just let it drift
with no significant events happening, no anxious thoughts
your system drifts toward tension and anxiety.
The anxiety triggers your mind to start
looking for the cause of your anxiety. That's natural. It's
just what the mind does. You start to wonder what's bugging you.
And no matter who your are, it is always possible to find something
to worry about if you look. So you look, and you find something
to worry about. And then you worry about it, which prolongs or
intensifies your already-existing state of anxiety.
So whenever you feel anxious, before you
start looking around for the cause, meditate. Lower your level
of stress hormones first, and if you no longer feel anxious,
you can go on about your day. Meditation resets your idle to
a lower level of stress hormones. It is only temporary, but you
can do it again the next day.
Some people might prefer to feel
anxious or tense, and have all the side-effects of that, rather
than spend the time meditating. Others would rather self-medicate
with alcohol producing serious side-effects simply
because it's easier.
But the little bit of effort and time it
takes to meditate is a good alternative with many other benefits
beyond simply reducing anxiety. Someday you may even be glad
you had an anxiety-prone nervous system because it introduced
you to the benefits of meditation. On your own without
the motivation of discomfort you might never have availed
yourself of this wonderful practice.
RETURN TO SIMPLICITY
When your desk is piled high with things
to do and the phone is ringing off the hook, you feel tense and
agitated. If you were to clear your desk except for a single
task, you'd relax and you'd be able to concentrate. Concentration
and calm go together. Tension and scattered attention go together.
Complexity produces tension. Simplicity
produces relaxation. Complexity stirs agitation. Simplicity elicits
Think of going back to the mantra as returning
to simplicity. As thoughts start coming, you'll feel your body
tense, especially around your eyes. Then as you return to the
simple mantra, you'll feel the tension relax.
WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW
Practiced once or twice a day, meditation
can make the world a better place. That might sound overly dramatic
or even fanatical, but think about it meditation makes
people more peaceful and kind, better able to solve problems,
and it ameliorates heart disease, high blood pressure, and other
stress-related health problems. Best of all, meditation can cure
our main problem, which is being caught in the whirlwind of wanting-wanting-wanting.
It's an ideal cure. Good for yourself. Good for the world.
More calmness, more patience and empathy,
and less greediness these things are worth the effort
to bring into the world. Since moods are contagious, you can
help others feel less anxiety, anger, and frustration by lowering
your own stress hormone level. The scientific evidence is overwhelming
that meditation produces calmness and gets rid of agitation.
Many virtues arise spontaneously out of a calm state:
1. Problem-solving is easier when you aren't
2. You're a better listener with greater
empathy. This leads to closer relationships. Closer relationships
are associated with better health.
3. Patience: agitation tends to make people
4. Impulse control: Having the calm and
contentment to think before you act, and to act in constructive
5. It is easier to delay gratification
when you have a feeling of contentment.
Meditation is a good medicine for what
ails us. And it has built-in self-serving rewards that justify
the practice, including good health benefits. One person doing
this one simple thing can have a ripple effect out into the world,
absorbing the tensions of others without passing them on, helping
to calm others by one's mere presence, and allowing conflicts
to be resolved fairly and peacefully. Will you be one
of these people?