Our Brain (3 in 1) & Mind (many ones)

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Fear, anxiety  (my whole armour – defense system), and anger … are the negative emotions that I run into my mind, usually a result of a situation or experience perceived as dangerous or stressful by the brain and mind. And if do not take good care, it can create chaos.

And last week when encountered them, I decided to listen to a compassionate video from Tara Brach among other attitudes . Now, I see that I was not going to my regular tendency to let my  negative thoughts prevail, but to pause, and create the space to cultivate compassion towards myself. 

In the talk she addressed some of these emotions,  and also told the story about a person that had some irrational responses, acted on auto-pilot; thus creating painful situation between those closer to him. But the worst was the baggage added into with shame and guilty , when he realized he has done it once more.   (I mean the situation is painful enough to have to add more judgment to it, but still we do it).

Her simple, but powerful, words to him  were: It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault that your mind is wired that way, when hi was in total desperation and kept repeating that he could not hold himself…

This part resonated with me, because my tendency is to add the second arrow (add the baggage of shame and guilt) when I make a mistake, when I act in the auto-pilot mode, when I let fear take control of my response system. Which then gives space to that strong critical voice inside myself , and it becomes louder and louder and starts  repeating incessantly the well known , but false, statement: “You are a bad person, and you are never going to change!!!”

wired

Having the fear, anger  emotions is natural, there is a reason for it, and it’s not our fault that unconscious responses happens, or past experiences get in the way, it’s kind of the default mode (there many factors that will influence this). 

(I mean there are days that I feel there different minds  taking control, as emotions come and go.)

I’m not here saying that I am not responsible for my actions. I am RESPONSIBLE for my reaction to those emotions, and that IS THE REAL WORK, manage and not condemn my emotions.  It is my responsibility to be more aware of my emotions, to investigate when painful situations happen due to my action or lack of it, to find out why is this happening, and re-learn how to react, respond in better ways (Yeah, I know, not an easy task). ūüôā

So I decided to go deeper into how our brain and mind usually work.

Differences Between Brain & Mind

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As some classify the brain is the hardware (physical) and the mind is the software (abstract). They seemed separate entities, but as I can see they are more connected than ever, and one can greatly influence and change the other.

Video-talk about the differences between the MIND and BRAIN (by Dr. Joe Dispenza): “Mind is the brain in action.”

and here a explanation about this connection, by Dr. Rick Hanson

“This integration of mind and brain has three important implications.

First, as your brain changes, your mind changes.

Second, as your mind changes, your brain changes.

Many of those changes are fleeting, as your brain changes moment to moment to support the movement of information. But many are lasting, as neurons wire together: structure builds in the brain.

Mental activity is like a spring shower, leaving little traces of neural structure behind. Over time, the little tracks in the hillside draw in more water down, deepening their course. A kind of circular self-organizing dynamic gradually develops, and then the mind tends to move more and more down that channel, and soon enough you’ve got a gully (pic below).

The third implication is the practical one, and that‚Äôs where we can focus: you can use your mind to change your brain to benefit your whole being‚ÄĒ and every other being whose life you touch…”

 

Understanding a bit of the Brain

“Your brain has three essential parts:

1)The first part‚ÄĒthe brain stem‚ÄĒsits at the base of your skull. This part is commonly called the reptilian brain.

It’s the oldest and most primitive part of the brain, and it controls balance, temperature regulation, and breathing. It acts out of instinct and is primarily a stimulus-response machine with survival as its focus.

brain-systems

2) Layered on top of the brain stem is the mammalian (emotional) brain. The mammalian brain controls and expresses emotion, short-term memory, and the body’s response to danger. The key player here is the limbic system, which is the emotional center of the brain where the fight/flight/freeze response is. Its primary focus is also survival, though it is also the seat of anger, frustration, happiness, and love.

3) The third part of the brain is the neocortex. This part of the brain is most evolved in human beings. The prefrontal cortex enables us to plan, to innovate, to solve complex problems, to think abstract thoughts, to have visionary ideas. It allows us to measure the quality of our experience, to compare it to an abstract ideal, and to yearn for change. The prefrontal cortex has enabled us to have a number of advanced behaviors, including social behavior, tool making, language, and higher-level consciousness. (by forbes.com/sites/christinecomaford/2012/10/21/hijack-how-your-brain-blocks-performance/#14a6dc92b7bc)

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And I finish this post with the TedTalk from Dr. Joe Dispenza which encompasses some many interesting topics and explanations on how brain and mind works and also introduced me to a new word: metacognition (below).

Three Brains – Thinking to Doing to Being

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Healing Requires Feeling!

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If our emotional state can determine actions and behaviours,basically how we can see/perceive LIFE,  how not to spend time identifying,  understanding and managing better those big characters?

It took me quite¬†a time, to start following this understanding, and aware path – #mindful. And I have to admit that there are ¬†days that I complete forget it all, and let my feelings and “fear mind” take control, as if the problems and obstacles are outside, instead of inside myself.

It’s hard! It’s really hard when you do not have the basic emotional skills to handle all of these since from the beginning. But we can learn, we can always start again.

The Status Quo –¬†

  • So we know that depending on our perception (conscious or not), we may send signals of stress or danger to brain, which will process and¬†act in ways to defend ourselves… even when there’s no real physical danger coming our way, like a bear across the street,.
  • We know that ¬†due to our brains “negativity bias” we will glue to the negative memories, again another defense¬†system preparing us for possible danger ahead. We could have 10 nice experiences and 1 bad, our mind will make sure we keep playing the story of that only 1 (bad) out of 10 (nice).

For a long time, my understanding¬† was that the entire world was going against me, and if I did not protect myself, I¬†would be swallowed by it. So even without understanding the emotional states I was going¬†through as I child, I already my responses ready: push away the possible danger, close myself¬†. However, this way to respond to life may have been benefitial to deal with pain for a while, but know ¬†was keeping me away of the same things I wanted the most: love, joy and care….

numbing

Past

Not a blaming statement, but a factual one: My parents were not the best example on how to deal with emotions and feelings in a healthy way. They were caught up in some much confusion with their own feelings (early stages of life, pre and post divorce), that it all seemed out of control at home.

It was explosive reactions on one side, and feelings of superiority on the other side. Conversations almost always ended up in conflicts, there was verbal abuse and constant fights between them. After the divorce was even worst, and we stayed in the middle and fo some many times were asked to take sides. As I said no blaming, as today I understand that they both were incapable to take care of themselves and their own feelings, can you imagine others? They did the best they could.

past-future

Unfortunately the imprint stayed. Even if I did not understand and could express how I felt when younger. The body stored the tension in the muscles, the closed posture for self-defense. The mind stored the screamings and yellings, the put down  and harsh responses,  and the violence. The lack  of control over emotions was registered. The  raw feelings were there.

The feelings of rejection (my bother’s need and mine our ¬†were¬†neglected, we were ignored), in addition to shame, ¬†guilty , anger (not expressed at that time, because how could hate your parents) &¬†fear lots of fear (unprocessed – ¬† unfortunately, ¬†when the world proved once more not¬†to be safe, this time in a physical way, ¬†I just¬†shut down completely certain¬†emotions). All of those were still there!

(unconscious: ¬†¬†Why they did that in front of us?, why they talked bad about each other to us?, why we re punished if one did not keep his/her promises? if they fought, is it my fault? Why they don’t have time for me?…)

The message was clearly the world is danger and full of pain,  home is not safe either, and there is no one to  nurture and care.

Letting Go of the Past

Man, it has been a LONG, LONG journey to feel all of these hidden/unprocessed feelings & emotions.

I remember when I was in therapy , 10+ years ago, and I used to get completely blank when the therapist asked what I was feeling? There were times that I REALLY DID NOT KNOW what I was feeling.

The early age pain was so intense that my defense mechanism did not want to deal with it. And remember, I had the vivid images of what those emotions (explosive ones from caretakers) could do, the damage and confusion they could create. ¬†“if I¬†let it out, chaos will take control of things.” Why would I want to go there? ¬†Not safe at all. But¬†the range, and sadness were there, and unless I feel/felt them they would be hunting me and taking control of my life.

determine

Now

And that is/was the work of therapy, spiritual development , body work ¬†(yoga, exercises) did, they allowed me to feel.¬†¬†So, I’ve been transforming the old statement to “I will let those emotions¬†out, because I feel¬†safe, and I know I deserve ¬†love, joy and care! and¬†I ¬†want to¬†change myself.

This work was only possible because I felt SAFE (very important aspect). I want to wite about this another time.

Another important step: forgiveness. Forgiving other and specially myself.

So, by being able to identify my emotions, I could greatly contribute to understand how these feelings  ended up here, have the courage to face  and accept them  Р#healing

Next steps, how I’m going to respond to them for now on.

HEALING REQUIRES FEELING

 What is emotion ?

¬†So how does it work? What’s the difference between emotions and feelings? (I’m not a psychologist, so my descriptions here are basely on research ¬†and findings – if any psychologist have any insight, please feel free to add in).

We  often use these words without any difference , so often exchangeable, that it all looks the same.

Emotions are lower level responses occurring in the¬†subcortical regions of the brain (amygdala, which is part of the limbic system) and the neocortex (ventromedial prefrontal cortices, which deal with conscious thoughts, reasoning, and decision making). Those responses create biochemical and electrical reactions in the body that alter its physical state ‚Äď technically speaking, emotions are neurological reactions to an emotional stimulus

Remember the previous post talking about the 3 brains? Check it out.

Fellings are the byproduct of the emotions and how emotions are conceptualized and given meaning…. A feeling is the mental and physical energetic signature of what is going on in your body and mind when you have an emotion.

As per Antonio D’Amasio, professor of neuroscience at The University of California and author of several books on the subject, explains it as:

Feelings are mental experiences of body states, which arise as the brain interprets emotions, themselves physical states arising from the body’s responses to external stimuli. (The order of such events is: I am threatened, experience fear, and feel horror.)

In a interview with Antonio R. Damasio  

MIND Maganzine : You differentiate between feelings and emotions. How so?

Damasio: In everyday language we often use the terms interchangeably. This shows how closely connected emotions are with feelings. But for neuroscience, emotions are more or less the complex reactions the body has to certain stimuli. When we are afraid of something, our hearts begin to race, our mouths become dry, our skin turns pale and our muscles contract. This emotional reaction occurs automatically and unconsciously. Feelings occur after we become aware in our brain of such physical changes; only then do we experience the feeling of fear.

MIND: So, then, feelings are formed by emotions?

Damasio: Yes. The brain is constantly receiving signals from the body, registering what is going on inside of us. It then processes the signals in neural maps, which it then compiles in the so-called somatosensory centers. Feelings occur when the maps are read and it becomes apparent that emotional changes have been recorded‚ÄĒas snapshots of our physical state, so to speak.

body mind

And what are the emotions that first came to mind?

Ekman and Friesen (1971) concluded that there are six basic emotions shared by all humans:classyifing in happiness (in the picture below named content, and others classification as joy) , sadness, fear, anger, surprise, and disgust. More by MIT open Emotion discussion)

six-basic-emotions

¬†So, we know that there’s experience (positive or negative), bodily activation, perception and traits involved.

The meanings emotions take on and the feelings they prompt are individual based on our programming past and present.

Feelings are shaped by a person’s temperament and experiences and vary greatly from person to person and situation to situation.

Here is how they can be played differently on each person.¬†ex. “I’ve since learned that I do get angry, often without noticing. ¬† For me, the physiological experience of anger often signifies danger, initiating feelings of fear.¬†¬† I am scared my anger will hurt something I value (like a relationship), so I become scared.

For someone else, a bully perhaps, their signals of anger might feel good, seeming empowering rather than dangerous.¬† In fact, a bully may have learned¬†that their fear is dangerous — just the opposite of me.¬† A bully may be someone who overlooks their fear,¬† feeling angry in response to physical indicators of fear.¬† A fearful person¬†may be someone who overlooks their anger, feeling fear in response to signs of their anger.¬† Thus, the same emotional signals may cause very different feelings in dissimilar people.”¬†

How Our Brains Feel Emotion

http://bigthink.com/videos/how-our-brains-feel-emotion

 

Happy New Year – (Tibetan New Year) / Wake Up!

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 Losar Tashi Delek РHappy Tibetan New Year! 

2017 – The Year of the Firing Rooster!

I found the Nalandabodhi NY Buddhist Center, when I attended¬†of one of the seminars from the Real Happiness Meditation Challenge. Which by the way finishes tomorrow – ¬†Feb 28, and there’s a last seminar¬†and closing party at Insight Meditation Society.

I went to the seminar and at the end of the teaching, I signed up to their newsletter. This is a place I have never been before and wanted to check the calendar for new events and future learning opportunities. 

Two weeks ago, I got their message mentioning ¬†the Losar Celebration – Losar Tashi Delekthe Tibetan New Year. I immediately wanted to go. ūüôā But later on, ¬†realized that I was supposed to help someone on that night.

¬†I let go of the idea, to find out yesterday night that my cousin¬†would not need me tonight. ūüôā¬†So I could attend, but not without some resistance… (I’m not glorifying resistance, but recognizing its existence. Whenever you try to experience¬†something new – ¬†there’s always that voice giving excuses, creating obstacles, and so on..) . My suggestions: give some space, ¬†accept the resistance :), ¬†don’t judge and #PERSIST!

And today for my surprise, after not sleeping very well, but being in a good mood …. and debating a few¬†times ¬†about going home after work, I decided to go to the Nalandabhodi¬†Center. ¬†(¬†I had sooo much love‚ô• flowing inside me ¬†that I needed¬†to listen to my heart and move forward. *Yes, I had to watch my thought as per not put this love and good feelings outside myself, meaning as a result for an external cause, but recognizing this calm and blissful feeling coming from inside.)

When I got there, and saw the colourful little flags, I realized: It’s about time to celebrate the New Year! Celebrate Life! That was all that love inside myself was calling for!¬†‚ô•

It was the celebration I did not have on Dec 31, due to my¬†painful state of body and mind, during the ¬†wisdom tooth infection episode and¬†other things that shook me to my core ( unfortunatelly, letting external things determine my happiness, another lesson to master…).

It was a time for meditation, prayers,  video message from Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche , chatting, music, singing, wine РOh yes, :); food and more chatting. I am not super comfortable in environments where I do not know anyone, but I felt pretty secured there, and enjoyed myself.

I am very grateful for giving myself this present, to allow me to have that experience (#healing) . Also I want to give a big thanks to the warm welcoming vibe from members of the center. I hope to come back soon.

And I am sure that one of the reasons that I was able to enjoy this moment, was the fact that I faced some pretty dark challenges (most mental) yesterday… but this is for another post.

To close… one analogy of this year animal zodiac symbol, the Firing Rooster, is the ability of it (rooster) to wake us up. Perhaps something that we all need – To Wake Up¬†from the trance, to Get Out of the Bubble (of pre-conceived ideas). Buddhist or not, that’s the idea:

wake-up

Path of heart .. 

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Path of heart .. begins with self #forgiveness, and forgiveness begins with forgive whatever we’re holding against ourselves. ¬†#Selflove!
I ran into this speaking of Tara Brach this week ( on Twitter), and decided to re-check the video/audio.

Video – remembering love

“What causes change? What ¬†allow us ¬†really to heal, wake up? The key moment in many healing processing is where there’s a softening¬† of the heart to ourselves…. Be Kind” (to yourself).

Good to remember the dog trap story. Keyword: keep remembering: #compassion

Mindful Harlem & Mindfulness

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Oct 2015 was the last time I wrote. At that time, I attended a MBSR course , meaning a 03 month seminar on Mindfulness Base Stress Reduction. That pretty much shook me to my core. It touched some painful memories and broke (in a good way) some patterns.

Many Thanks to the non-profit Mindful Harlem and Jayne Gumpel.

About the Course Course is modeled after the renowned program developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn (author of Wherever You Go, There You Are and Full Catastrophe Living) in 1979. Fascinated by the positive impacts of mindfulness meditation and yoga on health and well-being, he founded the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center where over 20,000 people have since benefited from the 8 week MBSR course.

What is MBSR? MBSR uses meditation, mindful movement and inquiry as a way of training people to relate differently to stresses in their lives. It was originally developed for patients in chronic pain, and for patients undergoing intensive treatments for cancer, AIDS and other serious illnesses, but has since expanded and been incorporated into the daily lives of thousands of people whether they are dealing with the serious stress of illness or simply the day to day pressures and anxieties of modern life.

Well, I’ve been trying to keep up with the practice in conjunction with buddhism practices and meditation… But I think I needed a refresh approach, or a reminder, and nothing like a kick in the butt from live to make us wake up.

So after a year and so, I decided to go back there to participate of their Drop & Sit that happens every Saturday¬†9:00 to 11:00 am – Harlem – NY. We can always re-start, re-new… and this time no judgment, no harsh voices , just compassion to be¬†on the path again.

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Meditate – Mindfulness Summite + “The Power of Now” Book

When certain areas in your live does not seem to improve, the best to deal with it, instead of clinging on the new purchase, or achievement would be to invest in yourself, in your spiritual self.

  • Thanks to my new roommate, since she’s the book owner, I started reading “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. I still have not finished but definitely recommend to those “who questioned who and/or what are the voices in our head? Am I what I think?? I think; therefore I’m? Can I change?”

The-Power-of-Now by Eckhart Tolle

  • Second tip of this chilly rainy weekend in New York is the Mindfullness Summit, done online, and free for 31 days.

meditate

“About the Summit

The summit is a not-for-profit project with a mission to make mindfulness mainstream. Why are we doing this? Because we believe the peace, balance and compassion found through mindfulness has the capacity to change the whole world from within.”

There’s still time to participate. Here’s How To Access The Talks Now:

The first time you access a summit session you‚Äôll be asked to create your ‚ÄėFree Summit Access Pass‚Äô for the month. This opens the door to the online conference, similar to you being given a wristband when you arrive at a physical conference. Everyone who arrives at the summit for the first time will need to create a password for their free access.

When you see the pop up, simply enter your email, full name and create a password. Make sure to keep a record of your password to log in again later if you try to access from another device.

Click here: TheMindfulnessSummit.com/sessions/live 

MINDFULNESS SUMMIT

Metas Globais!!

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Objetivos Globais

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1 mundo

7 Bilhoes de Habitantes

17 metas

Muitas melhorias foram feito nos √ļltimos 15 anos em todo o mundo:

  • Globalmente, o n√ļmero de pessoas que vivem em extrema pobreza diminuiu em mais da metade, passando de 1,9 bilh√£o em 1990 – 836,000,000 em 2015. A maioria dos progressos ocorreu em 2000.

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Mas muito mais pode ser feito para que esses fatos mudem. Vamos¬† falar sobre estes e outras quest√Ķes, vamos aprender sobre poss√≠veis solu√ß√Ķes e compartilhar as metas para 2030. O que voc√™ pode fazer?

Metas Globais – Seria loucura parar no meio

“Em 25 de setembro de 2015, 193 l√≠deres mundiais se comprometam a 17 metas globais a atingir 3 coisas extraordin√°rias nos pr√≥ximos 15 anos. Fim da pobreza extrema. Combater a desigualdade e injusti√ßa. Corrigir as altera√ß√Ķes clim√°ticas. As metas globais para o desenvolvimento sustent√°vel poderia se estas coisas feitas . Em todos os pa√≠ses. Por todas as pessoas.

Para as metas funcionarem, todo mundo precisa saber sobre eles.  Você não pode lutar pelos seus direitos, se você não sabe quais  são. Você não pode convencer os líderes mundiais a fazer o que precisa ser feito, se você não sabe sobre o que você está convencendo-os a fazer. Se os objetivos se tornarem conhecidos, eles não  serão esquecidos.

N√≥s podemos ser a primeira gera√ß√£o a acabar com a pobreza extrema, a gera√ß√£o mais determinado na hist√≥ria para acabar com a injusti√ßa e a desigualdade, e a √ļltima gera√ß√£o a ser amea√ßada pela ¬†mudan√ßa clim√°tica.

Global Goals! For Sustainable Development

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#GLOBALGOALS global-goals-logo-2

1 World

7 Billion People

17 Goals

A lot of improvements has been made in the last 15 years around the world:  

‚ÄĘ Globally, the number of people living in extreme poverty has declined by more than half, falling from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 836 million in 2015. Most progress has occurred since 2000.

‚ÄĘ The number of people in the working middle class‚ÄĒliving on more than $4 a day‚ÄĒhas almost tripled between 1991 and 2015. This group now makes up half the workforce in the developing regions, up from just 18 per cent in 1991. ” (http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/2015_MDG_Report/pdf/MDG%202015%20Summary%20web_english.pdf)

But much more can be done since extreme poverty still happens in so may places around the world. Let’s talk about this issues and other, let’s learn about possible solutions and share the goals for 2030. What can you do?

Global Goals – Tell Everyone

“On September 25th 2015, 193 world leaders will commit to 17 Global Goals to achieve 3 extraordinary things in the next 15 years. End extreme poverty. Fight inequality & injustice. Fix climate change. The Global Goals for sustainable development could get these things done. In all countries. For all people.

If the goals are going to work, everyone needs to know about them. You can’t fight for your rights if you don’t know what they are. You can’t convince world leaders to do what needs to be done if you don’t know what you’re convincing them to do. If the goals are famous, they won’t be forgotten.

We can be the first generation to end extreme poverty, the most determined generation in history to end injustice and inequality, and the last generation to be threatened by climate change.”

ilustration global goals

Vulnerability

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Writing my first post in my new home. Ehhhhhhhhhhhh ¬†ūüôā

As usual a lot happened during this past months. I didn’t feel¬†inspired at all to say anything. Many emotions up in the air, dealing with past, fear of failure, success and of course the Unknown.But vulnerability continues a top priority, and while having that in mind, I realized that is time to address the old issues. How not to freeze, or run when everything seems so overwhelmed. ¬†Also having in mind : compassion, Patience and Acceptance – Over, and Over and Over again during this new process.brene-brown-cultivate-love-Anzio-by-Moyan-BrennWithin this time I just gave me permission to feel (instead of pushing away), to make mistakes (meaning: I have to take risks more and more) and to go back on track (instead of feeling despair only)… I will probably will fall again, but hey what can I say: I am¬†learning ¬†ūüôā ūüôā

Dalai Lama 80th Birthday Celebration. What is your gift? #WithCompassion

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TOMORROW – JULY 06 ¬†His Holiness the¬†Dalai Lama will complete his 80th birthday. There will be celebrations throughout the world, and you can participate. The¬†best “gift” you could send to him is to embody his words and put them into practice.

“In honor of his milestone birthday, His Holiness is asking people to share photos, videos and quotes depicting people simply treating one another kindly, along with the hashtag #withcompassion on social accounts.”

Video -#withcompassion

It is not enough to be compassionate; we must act! – HH Dalai Lama

(AMANH√É – 06 de Julho Sua Santidade o Dalai Lama vai completar seu 80¬ļ anivers√°rio. Haver√°¬†celebra√ß√Ķes em todo o mundo , e voc√™ pode participar . O melhor “presente” que voc√™ podera enviar -lhe √© incorporar as palavras dele¬†¬†e coloc√°-los em pr√°tica.

” Em honra de seu anivers√°rio, Sua Santidade est√° pedindo √†s pessoas para compartilhar fotos, v√≠deos e cita√ß√Ķes que descreva as pessoas simplesmente tratando umas as outros com bondade, junto com a hashtag #withcompassion em suas redes¬†sociais. “)

#HHDL80 - #WithCompassion

#HHDL80 – #WithCompassion