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~ Kit Miller of the MK Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence
Hint: Try reviewing the Self-Assessment Matrix (see more, below) to see if any one skill jumps out at you.
Presence: Being attentive to what is happening right now. Not lost in thinking, emotional reactions, etc.
For simplicity’s sake:
Matrix co-creators Jim & Jori Manske have suggested these five skills as “easy ways to integrate NVC, anywhere/everywhere”:
Notice how each of the skills above can also be complementary in our capacity for growth with another skill — e.g. distinguishing between observation and interpretation can lend itself to cultivating presence (wanting-fully-without-attachment) or sensing into our ‘feelings awareness’ can naturally flow into a heightened state of ‘needs-consciousness’ etc.
These skills are further delineated by clicking on the chart beneath:
Four Competencies of NVC (Consciousness) ~
Unskilled, Awakening, Capable & Integrated:
Via CNVC.org: This document comes in two sizes, they contain the same information.
The large version is on eight pages and the other version is on four pages.
I’ve structured much of the tele-conference to reinforce some of the rituals that I use to buttress my NVC practice (& capacity for ‘presence’). For example, the four stations of Joanna Macy’s spiral (which serves as an outline for the call’s format) closely parallels the Mediate Your Life Practice honed by Ike Lasater and John Kinyon of Mourn, Celebrate, and Learn (MCL) (an NVC mediation process). Similarly, I’ve adapted their Breath/Body/Need self-connection exercise (Breath, Body, Inquiry) which routinely gets employed, on our call, in both an abbreviated and a more lengthy form.
One way that I’ve also found it useful to lean into a growing edge is to begin with something simpler, such as Mourn/Celebrate/Learn or Breath/Body/Need (or Inquiry) and then once that practice is under one’s proverbial belt, to expand upon it. So, for example, one could tack on a repair action-step (along the lines suggested by IPNB guidelines for secure attachment/trust), or even the option of brainstorming possible repairs, at the conclusion of an MCL process. Similarly, to deepen the process of Breath/Body/Need, one could intermingle some of the skills of Focusing, such as getting a ‘felt sense’ (and/or handle). Or of utilizing Inner Relationship Focusing’s (IRF) ‘presence language’…
Here’s an example of an intention/ritual that I’m currently engaged in attempting to ingrain (as fodder for thought for your own exploration/integration)…
Identified Language vs. Presence Language
“I am angry.”
“I am terrified.”
“I feel so frustrated by what she did.”
“I’m sensing something in me is angry.”
“I’m sensing something in me is terrified.”
“I’m sensing something in me feels so frustrated by what she did.”
If you’ve ever encountered the modality of [Inner Relationship] Focusing and wondered how it might complement self-connection/self-empathy, here is link to a video clip of Gina Censiose on Embodying Our Needs (Embodying Our Needs (rather than needs as a ‘story-we’re-telling-ourselves’).
Be sure to watch the video clip above, if you please, however here is an appetizer:
“I’m going in with a full quality of presence to myself and saying to whatever is there, ‘yes, I want to hear you’. Whether my mind thinks it’s garbage, it’s worthless, other people won’t like it. I will treasure it, in the moment, right now… And that I think allows for that space to unfold. There is a kind of inner relaxing where things will come up because they’re not being judged as bad or this isn’t acceptable. Doesn’t mean I have to share it with other people. But it means that when I am with other people I will be aware of these parts of myself and holding them lovingly and not projecting them either unconsciously onto other people by saying a sweet OFNR that is not at all true or that I’m trying to be nice by using OFNR — and that is obviously a beautiful learning curve in NVC — at the beginning you try OFNR and you see it doesn’t work (people do a two day intro and say, ‘hey, it didn’t work’) …Well, if the intention or reorientation of your heart hasn’t changed, it’s not changing your language that will change anything in life…It’s not the phrasing, it’s never the phrasing, it’s your intention.” ~ Gina Censoise
For the excerpt above in its fuller/video context, click here: http://www.nvctraining.com/media/GC/TP-key-diffs-200812
(Scroll down past the “iGiraffe” &/or pause-button for further musings as to next Sunday’s tele-practice theme)
“OFNR” (scaffolding of NVC consciousness)
Hold on to your anger, and use it as compost for your garden. | Thich Nhat Hanh
During the teleconference we’ll ‘compost’ material from our daily lives…
Four inquiries to consider (prior to our call, if possible):
“The process of learning an art can be divided conveniently into two parts: one, the mastery of the theory, the other, the mastery of the practice.” Erich Fromm
Three [Dialogic] Choices:
Additional Complementary Modalities/Resources:
FYI ~ If you participated in Sarah Peyton’s (free) IPNB/NVC tele-seminar on Conflicting Sacred Vows in December you may also be interested in this email from her assistant, Gloria
Here is the plan for the 2017 line-up:
IPNB and Empathy Teleseminar in January, Tuesday evening 1/17 at 7pm Pacific time:
· May 30 (The Precuneus and the Sense of Self: Differentiating Self from Other)
· June 13 (Brain Waves and Empathy)
· July 25 (Asperger’s and Autism: How Empathy can Contribute)
· August 8 (Safety: How to Claim it With Resonant Empathy)
· September (Glial Cells, Memory, Brain Fitness and Empathy)
· October (Addiction, Habits and Free Will: Empathy for Choice and Decision Fatigue, with a nod to the Basal Ganglia)
· November (Power and Privilege: Neuroscience and Empathy)
And possible teleseminars in 2018:
· January (The Writer’s Mind: The Importance of Empathy and Neuroscience)
· February (The Right Hemisphere: Home of Empathy)
· March (Money and Empathy)
Additional questions? Please contact us at email@example.com
Hint: Try reviewing an NVC Needs List (see beneath) to see if any one jumps out at you.
Your NVC Year 2016 in Review
As I indicated above, one of my most formative needs, and not just in this past year, has been that of ‘shared reality’ (an affinity which likely has deep psychoanalytic roots and will no doubt continue as a dominant theme well into the foreseeable future); likely much of my preoccupation resides far beyond the merely familiar realm, the personal-being-political (as it is often put)…
An example of how ‘shared reality’ is utilized in an NVC context:
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light…
FYI ~ A bit of a retrospective as to how this need for ‘shared reality’ panned out, in this year past:
See also ~ WaPo: Trump could face the ‘biggest trial of the century’ — over climate change
Donald Trump is poised to eliminate all climate change research conducted by NASA as part of a crackdown on “politicized science,” his senior adviser on issues relating to the space agency has said.
Nasa’s Earth science division is set to be stripped of funding in favor of exploration of deep space, with the president-elect having set a goal during the campaign to explore the entire solar system by the end of the century.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Teaser for next month’s blog post (referencing SCP practice w/ Focusing/IRF):
As Dr. Eugene Gendlin once put it, “If you want to know what the soup smells like, it’s better not to stick your head in it.” (via Thoughts on the Radical Acceptance of Everything) See also: Focusing Folio: Volume 21, Number 1, 2008. Read the whole article at http://www.focusing.org/folio/Vol21No12008/03_InnerRelatTRIB.pdf.
Inquiry: How do you conduct yourself when faced with dissenting views during political/religious discussions? Is NVC advantageous/disadvantageous when deciding how to proceed?
“Dialogue is a conversation … the outcome of which is unknown.”
~ Martin Buber
“…To a large extent what I’m suggesting to people is that when they are in a stressful conversation or a fight, an argument, anything where they are finding that their communication is not going in a way that they would want, a lot of the time what I’m basically saying to people is, ‘look you can talk however you like, most of the time, you know if it works for you to say whatever you’re saying, but if you’re really clear that if it’s not working for you, or not working for the other person, then shrink down your available options down to just three options.’ That’s essentially what I’m saying to people. And the practice is in actually, it’s maybe more difficult to shrink down and turn away from all the normal things you ordinarily do, blaming, persuading, criticizing people, making demands, telling stories, telling jokes, all of these other options, many options. To shrink it down to just three options, and the three options are: How am I doing right now (self-connection)? How is the other person doing right now (call this empathy)? And the third choice, just expressing honestly what you got in touch with when you checked in with ‘how am I doing’… That creates a simplicity basically which also, strangely enough, creates much more potential for connection between you and the other person which will then lead, more frequently, to some kind of a useful outcome that you both enjoy…”
Miki Kashtan/Department of Peace Teleconference Training Call Notes
A caller described a scenario is which he quarreled with a co-worker over a political issue. The caller was upset to suddenly find his co-worker passionately disagreeing with him. Later, when the co-worker apologized, he didn’t seem to know how to respond.
How to hear an opposing political position with compassion:
The first thing we’re likely to do is to depersonalize the other person, and make them a stand-in for a group.
‘He’s one of those ‘liberals’.”
‘She’s one of those ‘hawks.”
We need to forget about all the other people that agree with that person, and think of this person as a full and rich person, 3-dimensional, just like me. (Have compassion.) Remember, another person may have a different opinion from me, but their core values may be no different from the core values that live in me.
Ask yourself, “Can I abstract the core value that they are expressing?” “What is their core value?” (A core human feeling and need.)
Take a breath. You are moving from the world of separation, to the world of connection.
As an exercise right now, think of the last political discussion in which you felt some discomfort. Notice the difference it makes in your emotions, to see the needs that you may have in common with your communications partner.
Go back and forth between these two thoughts.
§ when you think of them as a stand-in for what is wrong in the world, and
§ when you think of them as having the same core value as you (safety, understanding).
This opens your heart.
Feeling the connection with your conversational partner:
Pause before seeking to be heard, and really try to connect with what the other person is saying. After they feel heard, then you may choose to hear your truth.
§ hearing the other person,
§ from what you want to say.
Because If I…
§ tell you that I feel connected to you because of our common feeling and need,
§ then, without any pause, tell you what I see as different from your view,
it tends to wipe out the connection.
Take a breath at the end of the connection. Check if you really got it. Mirror not only the thought they said, but mirror their emotional state.
Do not bring any “buts” into the conversation.
After they say, “Yeah, you get me,” then ask,
“Would you be willing to hear what this topic bring up for me?”
(They may not be willing to hear you.)
Speaking what is true for you:
If they are willing to hear you,
Make an “I statement”. Instead of saying what should happen in the political arena, take ownership, and say “what I want to see”. When we say what should happen, we are making it about being right and wrong.
When you say your truth, chunk it up into small bits. Check out each chunk for the other person’s understanding and reaction. This way, they won’t be as likely to feel overwhelmed with information they want to respond to.
If someone attacks you, judges you, or swears at you:
A caller related their sadness when they met with their Congressman, who said, “Your legislation has no chance in hell of passing.” The caller was shocked and left the meeting feeling upset, judgmental and resentful. If something like this this happens, you could say:
1) “I’m a bit shocked.”
2) “I’m wondering if you might give me a moment to recover.”
Then, work as fast as you can within yourself to release the hold that this feeling of shock has on you:
1. How do you feel? Sad? Frustrated?
2. What do you imagine is causing the other person to express what they are saying (what human need of theirs is motivating them to say what they are saying). What matters to them? What is the underlying message that they want you to hear? What is motivating them to say something that you are interpreting it as an attack?
Then you might be able to ask of them:
“Are you feeling like it would be too difficult to sponsor this legislation, because you have a need to sponsor legislation that has a good shot at passing?” or “Are you saying, you want me to be realistic about whether or not this legislation could actually pass?”
Our goal in any given lobbying conversation:
If you go into a conversation with your congressperson thinking you are going to change them, you may have a difficult conversation, and may end up feeling very disappointed.
§ connect, from a vantage of mutual understanding.
§ consider: what can I learn from this? OK, so you don’t think this is a good idea? Tell me why.
Keep the focus on what they are feeling and needing. If you can do this for a while, the opportunity to tell them your opinions (without creating more upset) may come up later because they felt that their feelings and needs have been heard by you.
We might have other goals as well, that could be accomplished from the interaction.
§ Connect: To make a human connect with the person we are lobbying
§ Model Peace: To experience a small bit of world peace during the conversation, thus modeling the peace we are seeking to realize globally
§ Expand our worldview: To learn from the person. Our perspective is parochial and limited if we only are capable of preaching to the choir of fellow believers in the peace movement.
§ Learn to respond to objections: Perhaps we can learn from Congress members how the legislation might generate objections in Congress. This way, we can start to learn to answer those objections
When many people first learn NVC, they become so enthusiastic about the possibilities they see unfolding, that they immediately try to put it to use everywhere. Often enough, the results can be disastrous, such that other people become deeply suspicious of NVC. Here is a sample of what people often hear from others in such circumstances:
The fundamental issue happening here, as I see it, is that people fall in love with what NVC can bring to their lives and to the world, while attributing that miracle to thelanguage used rather than to the consciousness shift that precedes the choice of words. As a result, they use the language in their interactions with others instead of seeing it as a practice tool designed to support integration of principles and to facilitate navigation of difficult moments with mutual consent. Because of how challenging that distinction between the language and the underlying consciousness is, I want to carefully unpack this paradox.
Almost everyone I’ve come in contact with sees and experiences the immediate power of NVC when used by an experienced person who is calm and present in the moment of using it. Even people who would otherwise vehemently disagree with the premises of NVC, especially with the idea of transcending right/wrong thinking completely, derive immediate benefit from being heard. However, getting to the level of mastery that allows such presence and fluidity to emerge requires something far beyond facility with a certaintemplate of speech (pdf). Until this integration happens, the gap between the words and the consciousness is likely to show up as lack of authenticity, which is a big piece of what’s annoying to people.Two factors combine to create this gap. One is the awkwardness of using a new and unfamiliar form of speech. Trying out something new, especially if there is any tension with another person, is highly likely to bring about self-consciousness and discomfort. Having such discomfort and then hiding it, as we are wont to do, immediately shows up as inauthenticity. Any hiding of visible discomfort does.
The other aspect of the gap derives more directly from the difference between our words and our thoughts. If we use empathic words while judging another person, or make something look like a request when it’s really a demand, we create inner tension. The empathic words or our request is likely to carry with it the tension, in our body’s movements and posture and in our tone of voice. Add to this our habitual preoccupation with “doing it right”, and the possibility of connection diminishes even as we are trying to forge a more satisfying level of connection that we have seen work.
Integration addresses both of these at once. As we become fluid with the language itself, it’s less likely to sound clunky. We can speak poetically and creatively even while using the language of needs, provided we have mastery and ease, and provided we genuinely care about the other person’s well-being even in conflict, and have capacity to let go of attachment to outcome while engaging in dialogue.
Practice and Life
Integration doesn’t happen overnight or by itself just because we love the new ideas. Integration arises from practice. This is why people who learn about NVC so often gravitate toward others who have learned it, so that they can practice together. I have no doubt that using the template in a practice setting, where everyone else has the same intention, supports the integration of the principles, which are truly the heart of NVC. At the same time, as often as I can remember to do so, I ask people to let go of the language altogether when they are outside of a practice group context, and only focus on what is most likely, moment by moment, to lead to an outcome that attends to everyone’s needs. If only it were so easy to do… People continue to hold on to the language because it’s so concrete that they feel more secure having it as a “crutch”, without realizing that they are losing their most valuable resource, which is the authenticity of their heart intention… (continues)
Bringing NVC to a workplace setting is not the same as using NVC in a personal relationship or in a therapeutic relationship. Because I have used NVC in these and other contexts, I have a deep appreciation for how much clarity, resilience, and creativity are required to navigate these differences… (continues here: Psychology Today)
One of the reasons that I opted to reference Miki’s piece on pitfalls, above, is that I have experienced a tendency to try to ‘straight jacket’ a more fluent, natural (read, ‘jackal’) response — especially in an attempt to adhere to a kind of NVC purified litmus test — as highly problematic (sometimes even interfering with my willingness to experiment and grow as an NVC practitioner at all). Once, while applying myself to a different modality, I recall being told by a practitioner of that style of communication that they “could never have a real conversation” with someone who practiced NVC. And I understood what she meant. Trying to adhere too closely to the model can come across as stilted; just as sanitizing one’s speech of any remnants of ‘jackal’ can neuter descriptive potency. To see what I mean, try to picture a stand up comedian relegated to observations/feelings/needs/requests and devoid of diagnoses, labels, or salty language (not so fun). Over time, I’ve gained conviction that while I want to become more fluent in giraffe, I do not wish to do so without retaining my native jackal tongue. Instead it is an aspiration to become increasingly mindful and at choice as to how and when to use NVC (or not). In arenas such as the current political climate, it seems imperative to borrow from a wide variety of self-expressive possibilities, for authenticity’s sake.
I once heard an anecdote of how to frame the arc of acquiring NVC skills (i.e. embodying its consciousness or opting not to), which seems particularly relevant to any discussion about engaging in political debate. Borrowing from what I can only assume must be the psychoanalyst, Lawrence Kohlberg, and his stages of moral development, learning NVC was similarly broken down into three stages: pre-conventional, conventional, and post-conventional. To delineate between these, first imagine a toddler — representing “pre-conventional” — assembling an outfit that mixes stripes, polka dots and a lady-bug patterning. Next, envision the same little girl, now an adolescent, and wishing to blend in with the “conventional” milieu of her peers by wearing the same name brand jeans and sneakers (so as not to stand out!). Finally, see her as an adult professional at Manhattan’s fashion week — a top notch designer of haute couture — assembling those seemingly bizarre “post-conventional” ensembles. To the untrained eye, the post-conventional of high fashion costuming is not all that dissimilar to the “pre-conventional” polka-dots/stripes/lady-bug patterning. But now the creative self-expression seems quite deliberate, of conscious intent/design, as there’s a method to the ‘madness’.
Opting out of being guided by the OFNR model when choosing amongst NVC’s three choices of self-connection/empathy/honesty, and/or opting out of NVC altogether, can also be framed within the broader, historical context which was the catalyst for Marshall Rosenberg’s naming of nonviolent communication.
It’s worth noting that MLK spoke of awakening “a sense of shame” as part and parcel of his use of nonviolence, while Nelson Mandela spoke of eschewing nonviolence altogether (viewing it in tactical terms). These historical examples of iconic practitioners of nonviolence have buttressed my realization that nonviolence, and how one opts to engage with it, is a choice.
‘He [ANC’s Lutuli] of course opposed the decision because he was a man who believed in nonviolence as a principle,’ Mandela recalled. ‘Whereas I and others believed in nonviolence as a strategy, which could be changed at any time the conditions demanded it. So that was the difference between us.’ ~ Nelson Mandela
Via Wikipedia: The concept known as the law of the instrument, Maslow’s hammer, Gavel or a golden hammer is an over-reliance on a familiar tool; as Abraham Maslow said in 1966, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”
LET’S put shame to work for a good cause. That’s the provocative assertion of Jennifer Jacquet, a conservationist at New York University. In Is Shame Necessary? she argues that we need to rely more on shame, and less on guilt, as a way of putting pressure on people and institutions to act in environmentally responsible ways. While guilt is a private emotion, a failure to live up to one’s own standards, shame occurs when a transgressor is held up to public disapproval. And that, Jacquet says, makes all the difference.
For one thing, institutions such as governments and corporations lack the capacity to feel guilt but they can be shamed into changing their behaviour. The private nature of guilt also means, though, that people can find their own ways of salving their consciences, often in trivial ways. “Consumers are swept up in using reusable bags and mugs and turning off the lights,” she writes. “This is like taking vitamin C after fracturing your skull in a car accident: it is not wrong; it is just so far from what is needed to actually fix things.”
Shaming, by contrast, gives citizens a way to shine a light on the worst offenders, the bad apples that cause harm out of all proportion to their numbers. Think of the US and China and their carbon emissions, or the American coal-mining companies that level whole mountains in Appalachia. The bad publicity that results can sometimes change policies, much as the campaign for dolphin-safe tuna did in the late 1980s.
Jacquet systematically explores the nature of shaming and some of the psychological evidence that shows why it works. In doing so, she makes a strong case for the value of shaming for shaping and enforcing social norms… (continues here: New Scientist)
I recall seeing an interview by Richard Stengel, then Time magazine editor and the author of the book: Mandela’s Way: Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love, and Courage, earlier along in the arc of studying NVC. The fifteen lessons are summarized here.
Wednesday 04/07/2010 — Richard Stengel, Time managing editor, reflects on working with Nelson Mandela and shares his new book, “Mandela’s Way.”
CHARLIE ROSE: The other thing that he had was some sense of what comes across here is the steel that was there.
RICHARD STENGEL: Yes.
CHARLIE ROSE: And he often said to you that everything — it wasn’t about principle, it was about tactics.
RICHARD STENGEL: Well, it’s funny, he had — that’s one of the chapters, is to have an overarching principle, and everything else is a tactic. He would say — and I’m going to say it in a plainer way than he would — he said, you have to have one core principle. He had one core principle above everything else, an overarching principle, which is to bring democracy one person, one man, one vote to South Africa, to reverse the history of apartheid, to bring democracy there. Everything else was a tactic. So even, for example, the ANC’s original embrace of non-violence from the Gandhi tradition, he would say “That’s a tactic, that’s not a principle.”
CHARLIE ROSE: So you can violate that.
RICHARD STENGEL: That’s right. And he did. When he became the leader of the ANC’s military wing he violated that, because he felt to achieve his great goal he needed to do that. And that was just a tactic. A lot of us would say, no, that’s a principle. He would say that’s a tactic.
“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities,” he said. “It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
~ Nelson Mandela
Excerpts from Chapter Six:
Have a Core Principle – Everything Else is Tactics
“Nelson Mandela is a man of principle – exactly one: Equal rights for all, regardless of race, class, or gender. Pretty much everything else is a tactic. I know that seems like an exaggeration – but to a degree very few people suspect, Mandela is a thoroughgoing pragmatist who was willing to compromise, change, adapt, and refine his strategy as long as it got him to the promised land. Almost any means justified that one noble end…Mandela has been called a prophet, a saint, a hero. What he is not is a naive idealist. He is an idealistic pragmatist, even a high-minded one, but at the end of the day, he is about getting things done. Over and over during the course of our time together, Mandela made a distinction between principles and tactics. (Or principles and strategy – he used the words tactics and strategy interchangeably.) This view evolved over his time in prison; the man who first went to jail was not nearly as strategic or tactical as the man who came out…After seeing the government’s consistent use of violence in repressing black protest, Mandela grew impatient with nonviolence. He felt a though he was carrying a spear to a gunfight. Finally, in 1961, Mandela journey to Natal to discuss a change of course with Chief Albert Luthuli, who was then the president of the ANC and who had won the Nobel Peace Prize the year before for leading the nonviolent struggle against apartheid. Mandela had immense respect for ‘the Chief,’ as he called him, and I asked Mandela what was Luthuli’s response to the change in strategy. ‘He of course opposed the decision because he was a man who believed in nonviolence as a principle,’ Mandela recalled.’ ‘Whereas I and others believed in nonviolence as a strategy, which could be changed at any time the conditions demanded it. So that was the difference between us.’ Many of the Indian members of the ANC were adamant about not abandoning nonviolence. Mandela recalled that J. N. Singh, the great Indian freedom fighter, fought the change. ‘J. N. kept on saying, with great eloquence, ‘No, nonviolence has not failed us, we have failed nonviolence.’ And these slogans, you know, can be powerful.’ But for him, the opposition had become a slogan, not a principle. In his hardheaded way, he had concluded that only a violent guerrilla movement had a chance of toppling apartheid. ‘It is a question the conditions which prevail, whether you have to use peaceful methods or violent methods. And that is determined purely by conditions,’ he told me. Conditions plus principles determined strategy. Mandela is not and never was a Gandhi, a man whose devotion to nonviolence was a life a principle that if violated would make the victory not worth having. Yes, Mandela preferred nonviolence – and had a personal revulsion toward violence of any kind – but the policy of nonviolence was undermining the one overarching principle that he could never lose sight of…Once he had achieved his great goal of bringing constitutional democracy to South Africa, he embraced its corollary: achieving racial harmony. Everything else was subordinate to those overriding goals. When conditions change you must change your strategy and your mind. That’s not indecisiveness, that’s pragmatism.” (See also – Sharing ‘Mandela’s Way’ In Fifteen Lessons : NPR)
CHARLIE ROSE: Where did it come from? What shaped Nelson Mandela?
RICHARD STENGEL: Everyone says he’s from a royal background. His father was a headman, and his father died when he was a young man. And his father was very close to the regent of the Tenbu tribe who then adopted Mandela as a seven or eight-year-old. And he grew up in this royal household. And it gave him confidence. The fact that he was raised away from apartheid in an African area with African traditions and hearing about African leaders who had fought battles for hundreds of years, it imbued him with a kind of confidence and a sense of himself as an African leader that young men and women growing up in townships in the cities I think didn’t have. And so when he left that area to go to Johannesburg and he encountered prejudice for the first time, he encountered people who treated him as less than human, it wounded him deeply. It affected him deeply. And it changed his whole trajectory in life. He basically realized the rest of my life is dedicated to overturning this, because it offended him so deeply because of his sense of self-worth and his sense of self- esteem. African leaders, ANC leaders always used to evaluate each other and say “Well, he’s very confident” or “He lacks self-confidence.” You never hear that here, but that was avery core principle in a way to them, because that was something that you had to be to be an African leader in SouthAfrica. It was just — it was danger from the beginning of the day to the end of the day every day.
Inquiry: If you view NVC as a kind of mindfulness discipline, then how do you move your practice ‘off of the cushion’ and onto the street (into ‘relational mindfulness’ of practical reality, such as navigating political differences as a consequential election looms ever larger on the horizon)? For example, how do you strike a balance between your own authentic self-expression and the spacious understanding of listening to another’s point-of-view (how to envelope multiple vantage points)?
The mindfulness practice below could be done while listening to the radio, watching TV, reading a book/magazine, or any other setting where the task at hand is to attune to the thoughts of another…
Via Mindful.org ~ Guidelines to Mindful Listening by Diane Winston
Tricycle: Cleaning Out the Storehouse
by Ben Connelly — Fall 2016
On Cultivating Awareness:
Here is an easy practice…It takes a minute or two. Stop and take three mindful breaths and notice how you feel in your heart and in your body. Then list ten things from the past that planted seeds in the storehouse and that were involved in creating your perception of this moment. Since everything is connected, anything that ever happened counts, but it’s not good to focus on emotional states. Here’s an example: after lunch I stop and take three mindful breaths. Then I use my fingers to count to ten and say or think, “My perception of this moment depends on loving my mom, the rainy road last night, the terror of war, white privilege, meditating this morning, my grumpy grandpa, watching baby birds, never feeling good enough when I was young, being afraid of the dark, worrying about work.” Then I move on. There’s no need to analyze, just let the seeds of remembering how much the past forms the present sink into the unconscious, the storehouse. Reminders that infinite seeds form our moments help us shed the habit of believing everything we think, they help us be patient with the slow hard road to liberation; and they help us focus on the ground of our deepest empowerment: the ability to transform our consciousness.
One way of framing mastery as a Nonviolent Communication practitioner, may be akin to what Sarah Peyton refers to as the cultivation of “resonant” empathy — as characterized in the quote beneath — fine tuning one’s instrument (or being) and capacity to be (vibrationally) “resonant” with others, rather than merely “inert”…
“Although I am not a musician, I once had the opportunity to hold in my hands an exquisitely made violin dating to the eighteenth century. What amazed me, even more than its harmonious lines or the beautiful grain of its wood, was that, holding it, I could feel it vibrate. It was not an inert object. It resonated with the various sounds that happened to resonate around it: another violin, a tram passing in the street, a human voice. If you hold an ordinary, factory-made violin, that just doesn’t happen. There can be hundreds of sounds around it and the violin remains numb. In order to obtain that fine sensitivity and extraordinary resonance of the old violin, the makers had to had an exceptional knowledge of wood and its seasoning; they were supported by the artisan tradition of generations, and they were endowed with the talent of cutting the wood and furnishing the instrument. This marvelous responsiveness is an active virtue. It is the capacity of the violin to enter into resonance, and it goes hand in hand with its capacity to create sound of extraordinary quality — music with a soul, able to move and to inspire. We human are, or at least can be, like that violin.”
Inquiry: How do you find accompaniment, both within and without, while ‘walking in the dark’?
I first encountered the idea of ‘walking in the dark’ (in an NVC context) while perusing a chart — titled Common NVC States — with its authors [NVC certified trainers] Catherine Cadden & Jesse Wiens of ZENVC, a portion of which I’ve excerpted below. The chart outlines how it’s possible to transition from a more constricted state towards a more expansive one (aligned with NVC consciousness). Wiens and Cadden noted that, “The final state, ‘Being Fully Human’, is a state of being that tends to occur as a by-product of practicing ‘Walking in the Dark’.”
Beneath the work of:
[One column excerpted from] “Common NVC Mind States” – Walking in the Dark
Intention: To connect, being willing to not know how that looks
Underlying Beliefs: “I don’t know what’s best in this moment”
Consequences of Acting from this State: Increased connection. Freedom from old patterns of behavior. Limitless potential.
Life-Serving Motivation: Contribute to Life
Observations: Just what’s right in front of you.
Feelings/Body Awareness: More felt than named. Opening to being with pain in self and others, especially darkness and despair.
Needs Awareness: More felt than named. Opening to not knowing what the needs ‘are’.
Requests: “What would serve Life in this moment?” Opening to receiving the answer…or not.
For more information as to the “Common NVC Mind States” (chart), please contact Jesse and Catherine directly here: Contact Us and/or view these additional links: Who We Are, Handouts, Articles and Recordings
As with last week exploration of Miki Kashtan‘s commitment as to Risking My Significance, Gina demonstrates how one might be with that which is yet murky inside of us and how, in climbing out on this limb, transition from a more one dimensional or “static” awareness (i.e. merely labeling feelings/needs, etc.) into something that morphs, thereby becoming more fully flesh out as we go along.
What would change in your life if you trusted that you matter? Here are some examples:
1) Make a pact with yourself to offer your ideas and gifts even when you don’t fully trust them. Make it concrete by choosing a certain number of times a day or a week that you commit to doing it.
2) Share your celebrations and mourning with people in your life. Expand and deepen with those you already do so, and add new people to the circle.
3) Reflect or journal on your experiences: how did you feel? In what way did your offering support the purpose for which you did it? How was it received? How did you respond to the way it was received? Also, track yourself over time to see if risking your significance gets easier with practice. If not, bring tenderness to whatever is holding you up from doing it with true willingness. Fully accepting that aspect of you can make it more possible that such willingness will find you over time. (see more here: Core Commitments)
Tikkun Magazine, January/February 2010
by Miki Kashtan
The origin of suffering is attachment. – The Buddha
The Talmud tells us that in the world to come, everyone will be called to account for all the desires they might have fulfilled in this world but chose not to. The things we desire—the desires themselves—are sacred. Who put them in our hearts if not God? But we have been taught to be ashamed of what we want; our desires become horribly distorted and cause us to do terribly hurtful things. – Alan Lew, from This is Real and You are Completely Unprepared
If you have had a spiritual practice or have experience with personal growth workshops, you have no doubt heard many times that letting go of attachment increases happiness and well-being. The principle is simple, but exactly what does it mean to let go of attachment, and what do we do to get there?
Sometimes it appears as if spiritual traditions suggested that the only way to let go of attachment is to give up on what we want. But is this the only way to interpret the old traditions? Is wanting really inseparable from attachment? Or is it possible to want what we want with full passion without the constriction of being attached? Can we remain genuinely relaxed about whether or not we get what we want? And if we can do this in our personal lives, what about as social and political beings, as we relate to the state of the world? Why would we even want to release attachment when our passion is for the world—be it for social justice, peace, sustainability, or any other cause?
The challenge arises primarily when we experience tension between what we want and what is or what seems possible. We frequently respond in one of two ways. Externally, we might try to force what is to conform to what we want by outright coercion and threats or by using more subtle forms of demands. Internally, we might try to suppress or give up on what we want. Both of these strategies lead to suffering. Neither of these paths engages with life openly. In both we are forcing others or ourselves instead of being in a dialogic relationship.
What follows is an attempt to outline a new path, different from forcing or giving up; a path that affirms who we are and accepts what is; a path that allows creative strategies to arise from a quality of connection that recognizes and affirms our own and others’ needs, aspirations, and dreams.
And what about social transformation? you may wonder. To begin with, if we are unable to tolerate the world as it is, we will be at war with the world, putting ourselves in danger of re-creating the very same structures we are seeking to transform. The path of wanting without attachment supports our work for change in two key ways. Internally, as we grow in our capacity to want without attachment, our inner peace increases. Externally, our capacity to release attachment and continue to want and work toward our deepest dreams provides a foundation for an entirely different approach to working toward change in the world: we can then work without urgency, with less burnout, with more capacity to dialogue with those we encounter along the way, and with a sense of clear vision instead of opposition… (continues here: Tikkun Magazine)
Kashtan: “If you have ever participated in meditation of any kind, you probably know that most forms of meditation involve returning attention to an object of focus whenever attention wanders. Some meditation practices focus on the breath (many forms of Buddhist and Yogic meditation), some on certain bodily sensations (some forms of Vipassana meditation, for example), some on specific words (mantras in transcendental meditation), and some on specific sequences of ideas and images (some forms of Jewish meditation).
In an entirely similar manner, you can develop a meditation practice that focuses on connecting with needs. The object of focus is the line “I have a need for ____.” Just as with any other form of meditation, your mind will likely wander. You will likely hear internal responses, such as: “But this need cannot be met; why bother?” or “Yeah, but this person is not going to change,” or “I should just grow up and get over this petty wish of mine,” or “This is not just about some personal need of mine. This is about everyone’s right to dignity.” The aim of the practice is to bring your attention back to the need you are meditating on—without harshness. Rather than punishing yourself for wandering, just gently bring your attention back.
Encountering and connecting with needs is different from naming them as checklist items. Whenever we do this practice, we can take a moment to breathe, to really experience the flavor of that need being inside of us—exactly what it feels like, what the sensations of having this need are, and what this need means to us…” (continues)
Audio (via NVC Academy): Wanting Fully without Attachment
Excerpt from Kashtan’s blog post (link above): … Two years ago I wrote a full-length article about it in Tikkun Magazine. I called it Wanting Fully without Attachment. My aha moment was discovering that it’s attachment that leads to suffering, not wanting per se. Wanting, I believe, is the core energy that makes life happen. When I look at small children, I see powerful and sturdy wanting, and the willingness to take sometimes enormous risks to move in that direction. It takes years and years of punishment and regimentation before we give up on what we want and lose track of that vibrancy of life within us. In my work with people, the surest way to rekindle aliveness and a sense of meaning in life is to reconnect with that passion that used to be all of ours. Attachment, on the other hand, is the attempt to make life be a certain way. It makes us lose our openness to life, our creative and imaginative capacity to dance with what life presents without losing track of what we want, and our capacity to embrace the fullness of our experience even when it’s not what we want. One of the key challenges in this unfolding and opening to what we want is that as we remove the lid on our wanting, it takes considerable spiritual fortitude to re-engage with our wanting without the illusory protection that comes with attachment to outcome. Because of this particular challenge, I see wanting without attachment as a deep spiritual practice. I am still learning, and will probably continue to learn…
Needs: Facets of Self-Connection
Purpose: This guided reflection is intended to support you in experiencing a variety of ways to connect with your needs, which you can use at any time in your daily life. People resonate differently with these different ways. You may want to explore each of these to see which support you in gaining more self-connection and inner freedom. You can use these reflections as a series or separately from each other.
1. Focus your attention on a need that is not met to your satisfaction in
your life. Put your focus specifically on the unmet quality of this need. You can say to yourself: “My need for ____ is not met,” and repeat this phrase until you are fully connected with the experience of the unmet need. (You might want to close your eyes and focus inwardly while you do this.) What sensations do you notice in your body? What feelings arise?
2. Now shift your attention to the need itself. Not to the idea of having the need met, but to the need itself; to the fact of having a need. You can say to yourself: “I have a need for _____,” and repeat this phrase until you are fully connected with the experience of having the need. (You might want to close your eyes and focus inwardly while you do this.) What sensations do you notice in your body? What feelings arise?
3. Now shift your attention to the met quality of the need. What is it like for you when this need is met? You can imagine this need met, and say to yourself: “My need for _____ is met,” and repeat this phrase until you are fully connected with the experience of having this need met. (You might want to close your eyes and focus inwardly while you do this.) What sensations do you notice in your body? What feelings arise?
4. Lastly, shift your attention to the need as a presence you want to
encounter (another meaning of “meet”). This is similar to focusing on the need without it being met or unmet, but may be experienced differently. Focus on what it is like to meet this need in the sense of encountering it fully. You might say to yourself: “Hello _____. Welcome,” and repeat this phrase until you are fully connected with the experience of having encountering this need. (You might want to close your eyes and focus inwardly while you do this.) What sensations do you notice in your body? What feelings arise?
5. Note any insight from the shift in focus, and or any needs met by the
6. Consider: when would you want to engage with each of these different
focuses on your needs? How might each serve you? What needs would you
want to meet through this focus?
7. Do you have any requests of yourself?
Miki Kashtan re: How to Differentiate Between Needs and Strategies
Kashtan: “Needs lists, how to say this, is intrinsically an approximation, and the reason for that is because it’s isolated concepts, and life is fluid — so whether or not something is a need, some people start getting into kind of hairy conversations about whether this is a need or not. And, for me, what matters is two things, one is to ensure that what I’m talking about is clearly not attached to specific strategies. And there is an acronym that someone came up with that helps with that distinction. The acronym is Plato. Like the philosopher Plato and it stands for…
If you have any one of those five in what you are imagining is a need, you know that it is a strategy, because it is in material reality. So that’s one thing. Once you’ve taken all of those things out, you know that you are not in a particular strategy and you’re more likely to be in the energetic, spiritual, gestalt of the need, and then — from there on — the second question is — “if this is sufficiently deep to find the self-connection that I want?” So, for example, I can say that Comfort is a Need, but for me personally (I’m not saying for anyone else), most of the time (not even always) if I look inside to understand myself and what I come up with a need for comfort, it doesn’t feel like the end of a journey, it’s not really something I can go like ‘oh, yes that’s it I feel connected’ — than I keep inquiring and go deeper, but if it is sufficient than it’s a need, I don’t care what anyone else says, but in this moment it is a need.”
FYI: Upcoming Teleseminars with Miki Kashtan (courtesy of Adriana):
Fearless Heart Teleseminars
The next Fearless Heart Teleseminars are scheduled for the following dates:
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