A Reality Check

[This post is part of my "Truth Tuesday" series on Facebook.]

On Sunday, I received an email from YouTube. It was a terse message that my “Born Joy: Mindfulness” channel was terminated for repeated violations of the community guidelines. My first thought: It's a phishing email. Upon closer look, I saw it was legitimate. Then came my second thought: Someone hacked my account. (I use my channel to record meditations and mindfulness videos for my e-courses. The content is mindfulness, loving-kindness, and healing.)

In my fearful state, I hastily completed the appeal form, letting YouTube know I’m a meditation teacher who wants to spread love and kindness. I had full confidence this was a mistake that would be rectified. Within an hour, I received another terse email: We’ve reviewed your appeal and stand by our action. So, my channel is terminated. Not only terminated, but if you go to the URL, a statement appears in red: “This account has been terminated due to multiple or severe violations of YouTube's policy against spam, deceptive practices, and misleading content.”

I was shocked and hurt by these messages and actions. They left me feeling like I’d done something horribly wrong. I sat with shame and fear. Then I did a little research. Seems my violation was for repeated content, which falls under spamming and scamming. So, I filed another appeal, with more considered words. The meditations may appear the same but are quite different. My intention is not to spam, and I’m willing to delete videos or make any needed changes.

To this second appeal, I got an automated reply: You’ve already appealed. Wait for that decision—it’s the final word. No second appeals allowed.

Bottom line: Born Joy is terminated for severe violations. I’m barred from ever creating another YouTube channel. Termination for life (without any previous warning). All because some of my titles and meditations were repeated.

Yesterday morning, I felt terrible: a lingering sense of “I’ve done something wrong,” even though I knew I hadn’t. I also had a problem to solve: What do I do about my self-paced e-courses, which rely heavily on YouTube videos? (And what will people think when they see red letters declaring my “severe violations”?) In the moment, I did what I could and trusted I’d work things out.

Then I went into prison, which always awakens my heart. It was a typical long and meaningful prison day. Two group sessions followed by three 1-on-1 visits, with lunch and driving in between. The sharing in prison mindfulness circle is honest, supportive, and insightful. The heartfelt practice these men and women do—sitting directly in the fire—inspires me in inexpressible ways. 

Over dinner, I talked more with Mark about the YouTube debacle. He asked how I was feeling. I feel helpless, unfairly accused, and at the whim of unreasonable authority. And just as I said those words, I realized this is what millions of people feel every day. People in prison, women in Saudi Arabia, or young black men in America. For me, this is a small bump from which I can easily recover. For others, the mistreatment is daily and unrelenting.

With this new perspective (and huge gratitude for the good things in my life), I leave YouTube behind. And I release my anger, fear, and shame. This whole process has humbled me. I learn much about myself when things don't go my way. It's also opened me to new possibilities. I can spread mindfulness, hope, love, and healing in many and varied forms. I welcome the opportunity.