“If you’re invested in security and certainty,
you are on the wrong planet.” 
– Pema Chödrön


10 Ways of Transforming Reactivity – Donald Rothberg

Aug 20, 2023

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What does the Third Noble Truth really promise when it speaks of “an end to dukkha?” Does it mean an end to unpleasant experiences?

In this rich talk, Donald Rothberg shares that the end of dukkha actually means the cessation of our reactivity to unpleasant experiences. He relates the analogy of “the second arrow” to our reactivity (both clinging and aversion) rather than the typical translation of “suffering.”

He introduces 10 guidelines for working with reactivity:

  1. Understand the nature of reactivity and how it becomes institutionalized
  2. Assess your level of reactivity and determine an appropriate response
  3. Be mindful of your patterns of reactivity
  4. Explore how you react to both pleasant and unpleasant
  5. Develop a regular heart practice, such as loving-kindness, compassion, joy, equanimity, forgiveness, gratitude, and empathy
  6. Recognize the insight offered by our reactivity and transform it rather than strive to eliminate it
  7. Learn alternatives to reacting through mindfulness
  8. Bring conscious intention to our habitually reactive mind
  9. Look at the roots and history behind our reactive patterns
  10. Learn to develop non-reactive ways of speaking and acting

Donald Rothberg, Ph.D., a member of the Teachers Council at Spirit Rock Center, and a teacher at the East Bay Meditation Center, teaches retreats and groups on concentration and insight meditation practice, loving-kindness practice, transforming the judgmental mind, mindful communication, working skillfully with conflict, and socially engaged Buddhism.

He has practiced insight meditation since 1976 and received training in Tibetan Dzogchen, body-based psychotherapy, and trauma work. He has helped guide many six-month to two-year training programs in socially engaged spirituality, both Buddhist-based and interfaith. He is the author of The Engaged Spiritual Life: A Buddhist Approach to Transforming Ourselves and the World, and the co-editor of Ken Wilber in Dialogue.
Find him at donaldrothberg.com