Creativity, Buddhism and Tango - How Non-Aggression Can Make Your Life A Work Of Art

Book Review by Mitra Martin

True Perception by Chogyam Trungpa

This book is a gentle guidebook to making your life an outrageous and peaceful work of art.

I first heard of Chogyam Trungpa when the movie Crazy Wisdom came out. Wow, what a soul, I thought when I saw it. The first Tibetan Buddhist to teach in the US, he was the founder of Naropa University and the network of Shambala Centers - and also a friend of poets and creative people like Alan Ginsberg and Joni Mitchell. He wasn’t perfect at all and I guess that’s okay too. I think it was nice for me to have a reference point for who he is and the calm bigly humorous way he speaks, as I read the book.

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New Skills for Conscious Community: How Non-Violent Communication Can Help


Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall Rosenberg, Ph. D. 

If you have ever found yourself saying, even just inside yourself, let’s say, while scrolling through the Facebook, “These people are SO annoying.” “I can’t stand her.” or just sighing, "Man." Or if you ever find yourself plotting microrevenge, “I won’t invite them again” or need this book.

Here are some situations - on and off the dance floor - where what I learned from reading this book helps me find more peace: 

  • When I am sad or scared - learning how to give myself empathy
  • When I am with someone who is upset - learning how to give empathy in a constructive way
  • When I am stressed out and working with someone who is stressed out - learning new patterns to replace reactive or resisting ones
  • When I am feeling happy about something - learning how to appreciate without being manipulative

Those things happen almost every day, especially when we are living and working as part of an active, dynamic, growing, changing community! So I find plenty of times to practice and plenty of times to be grateful for what I'm learning here. 

Reading this book helped me realized how tricky language is, and how easy it is to unwittingly commit microviolences that make life more of a bummer than it needs to be. It doesn’t have to. All we need to do is to learn.

The book's incredibly user-friendly, too. It has excellent summaries and pithy callouts, it has useful reference lists and even very challenging self-quizzes! The writing is clear and humble and enriched by Rosenberg’s personal experiences generously shared. There are transcripts of actual conversation between people, with commentary, that are revelatory and really easy to relate to.

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I am so grateful for the tremendous introspective work of Marshall Rosenberg, expressed in this book; for his calm and lucid writings and the recordings of his workshops and lectures; for the gentle force of his vision now expressed in organizations founded through and through on the pillars of peace and freedom, on the basic idea finding ways to get everyone’s needs met. He died last month. I think humanity has no idea yet how much he contributed to its possibility for success. 

NVC is not just about words. It’s about kindling the underlying feeling, the mood of peace, stillness, and a true devotion to finding creative ways to serve everyone. And that’s actually more important than whatever words you say. Sometimes, it’s about learning that voicing your inner experiences of others is more functional than keeping it all inside. 

Fundamentally, I believe it is about enlarging your heart - a truly deep project - so that you can function creatively even when you’re really stressed on the inside. I hope this book will inspire you. Love, Mitra

Great Books By Great Thinkers on Creativity, Consciousness, and Education, and How They Relate to Teaching and Learning Improvised Argentine Tango

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Hello everybody!

I read an enormous amount. And so many times I read a book and while I’m reading it I’m sitting here thinking, “This is so key! I wish everyone could know this! I wish I could talk to other people about this! Because it has vast and sincere implications!!”

So when Sharna Fabiano suggested that book reviews might be part of the O2 blog, I was like: yeah! I hope this will inspire some of the people around me to read these amazing thoughts in these amazing books and get inspired and we’ll talk about it and there will be so much insight and upliftment and who knows what will happen from there!

So the theme of my book review series is: “Great Books By Great Thinkers on Creativity, Consciousness, and Education, and How They Relate to Teaching and Learning Improvised Argentine Tango."

For me exploring Tango - deeply and hardcorely - is one aspect of a broader exploration on connectedness in my life, off the dance floor. Connectedness to myself, connectednesss to others, and connectedness to the something beyond - something which IS me, and IS others, is all of us. And so many brilliant people out there have cared so much about this area of connectedness through the lens of different domains and I have learned so much by reading what they said about it.

Some of those writers are visionary artist-improvisers, who really have explored how fine-grained collaborative creativity can come to being through human interaction.

Some of them are visionary teachers who really care about connecting with students and enabling their total blossoming.

Some of them are community designers who know that community is more than just a bunch of humans being in the same place at the same time doing the same thing, even.

Some of these people are meditation teachers or spiritually developed people, who have explored the invigorating layers of finding connection with the divine or basic goodness within.

I think all of them have something to contribute to our process of growing as Tango dancers and as human beings, which seem to unfold in parallel and reinforce each other beautifully. It is a gorgeous journey and luckily these amazing souls have paved some of the way for us. I hope you enjoy their writing, and if you read the books and they click with you please write me and let me know! And the first review!

Love, Mitra