April 6, 2014 ~ Virtuous Circles/Spirals (vs. Vicious Cycles)

ChooseConnection.com – FREE NVC Conference

Sunday, April 6, 2014 ~ Virtuous Circles/Spirals (verses Vicious Cycles)

We’ll incorporate the basic framework of our Outline-of-Call — i.e. 1) checking in, 2) guided self-connection meditation, 3) principle-based inquiry, 4) dialogue-lab (w/ iGiraffe) — into a larger Meta structure based on the work of Joanna Macy.  To begin, as we check in with one another, we’ll explore our experiences from the past week, as practitioners of Nonviolent Communication, in the context of the first station of Coming from Gratitude (of Joanna Macy’s Spiral of “The Work that Reconnects”).   As we’re a bit more well-resourced due to a ‘self-appreciation’ of whatever elbow grease was exerted (even if just to arrive on the call, leaning forward towards the gift of our own learning and growth), we’ll next shift to Honoring Our Pain (during the self-connection exercise), moving towards Seeing with New Eyes (via an inquiry into the Matrix,  Core Commitments, etc.) and ending with Going Forth into the Dialogue Lab portion of the call in which we’ll engage with (the inner/outer conflict in) role plays:


Four Stations/Stages/Movements:

  1. opening to gratitude,
  2. owning our pain for the world,
  3. seeing with new eyes,
  4. going forth.

The Spiral of the Work – The Work That Reconnects

wtr mandala
By Angella Gibbons

I.  Opening to Gratitude (Celebration)

Tool:  Giraffe Journal

Beginning with Opening to Gratitude, review this past week (or so) and notice something that seemed to go well, in your how you employed NVC &/or embodied NVC consciousness, and discern an observation as to what occurred as well as any correlating feelings and/or needs.

See also: Gratitude Practice & Flowers, Tears & Lightbulbs Journal

Gratitude and Generosity: Markings of Inner Freedom

II.  Honoring Our Pain for the World (Mourning)

Tool:  Jackal Journal (scroll midway through)

Next, stage two of the spiral, is opening to our pain.  Again, reflecting on something that elicited a negative emotion and, once again, identify the stimulus as an observation, however this time also include you might be mixing in, i.e. identify what you’re adding to it in terms of the judgements that often arise, however unbidden and the associated emotions/values.

See also: Jackal Language & Reactivity

Tara Brach: Acknowledging the Suffering

The Lost Art of the Unsent Angry Letter

By Maria Konnikova ~ March 22, 2014

WHENEVER Abraham Lincoln felt the urge to tell someone off, he would compose what he called a “hot letter.” He’d pile all of his anger into a note, “put it aside until his emotions cooled down,” Doris Kearns Goodwin once explained on NPR, “and then write: ‘Never sent. Never signed.’ ” Which meant that Gen. George G. Meade, for one, would never hear from his commander in chief that Lincoln blamed him for letting Robert E. Lee escape after Gettysburg.

Lincoln was hardly unique. Among public figures who need to think twice about their choice of words, the unsent angry letter has a venerable tradition. Its purpose is twofold. It serves as a type of emotional catharsis, a way to let it all out without the repercussions of true engagement. And it acts as a strategic catharsis, an exercise in saying what you really think, which Mark Twain (himself a notable non-sender of correspondence)believed provided “unallowable frankness & freedom.”

Harry S. Truman once almost informed the treasurer of the United States that “I don’t think that the financial advisor of God Himself would be able to understand what the financial position of the Government of the United States is, by reading your statement.” In 1922, Winston Churchill nearlywarned Prime Minister David Lloyd George that when it came to Iraq, “we are paying eight millions a year for the privilege of living on an ungrateful volcano out of which we are in no circumstances to get anything worth having.” Mark Twain all but chastised Russians for being too passive when it came to the czar’s abuses, writing, “Apparently none of them can bear to think of losing the present hell entirely, they merely want the temperature cooled down a little.”

But while it may be the unsent mail of politicians and writers that is saved for posterity, that doesn’t mean that they somehow hold a monopoly on the practice. Lovers carry on impassioned correspondence that the beloved never sees; family members vent their mutual frustrations. We rail against the imbecile who elbowed past us on the subway platform… (continues)

III.  Seeing with New Eyes (Learning)

Tool:  Radical Compassion’s Matrix

Tara Brach “Sacred Pause”

The Opinion Pages|Op-Ed Columnist

Going Home Again

March 20, 2014


…Most TED talks are about the future, but Sting’s was about going into the past. The difference between the two modes of thinking stood in stark contrast. In the first place, it was clear how much richer historical consciousness is than future vision. When we think about the future, we don’t think about the texture and the tensions, the particular smells, shapes, conflicts — the dents in the floorboards. But Sting’s songs were about unique and unlikely individuals and life as it really is, as a constant process of bending hard iron.

Historical consciousness has a fullness of paradox that future imagination cannot match. When we think of the past, we think about the things that seemed bad at the time but turned out to be good in the long run. We think about the little things that seemed inconsequential in the moment but made all the difference.

Then it was obvious how regenerating going home again can be. Sting, like most people who do this, wasn’t going back to live in the past; he was circling back and coming forward.The person going back home has to invent a coherent tradition out of discrete moments and tease out future implications. He has to see the world with two sets of eyes: the eyes of his own childhood self and the eyes of his current adult self. He has to circle back deeper inside and see parts of himself that were more exposed then than now. No wonder the process of going home again can be so catalyzing.

The process of going home is also reorienting. Life has a way of blowing you off course. People have a way of forgetting what they originally set out to do. Going back means recapturing the original aspirations. That’s one reason Jews go back to Exodus every year. It’s why Augustine went back during a moment of spiritual crisis and wrote a book about his original conversion. Heck, it’s why Miranda Lambert performs “The House That Built Me” — to remind herself of the love of music that preceded the trappings of stardom.

Sting’s appearance at TED was a nice reminder of how important it is to ground future vision in historical consciousness. Some of the TED speakers seemed hopeful and creative, but painfully and maybe necessarily naïve.

Sting’s talk was a reminder to go forward with a backward glance, to go one layer down into self and then after self-confrontation, to leap forward out of self. History is filled with revivals, led by people who were reinvigorated for the future by a reckoning with the past.

Beyond the Prison of Beliefs

IV.  Going Forth

Tool:  What’s My Intention? A Simple Nonviolent Communication Exercise

“Live the Truth of Who We Are”

Tara Brach “Power”

Eckhart Tolle – The Flowering of Human Consciousness – Part I

“What is Intention?” NVC Nonviolent Communication

Eckhart Tolle – From Seed to Tree – YouTube

How to Use Non-Identification with Form to Dissolve the Ego Self

To reiterate, and similarly to NVC mediation (where there is a debriefing process known as Celebrate, Mourn, and Learn which parallels Joanna Macy’s stages of her spiral),  we’ll incorporate the processes we’ve been exploring as a group within this larger Meta framework — specifically examining the content of our day-to-day lives through a spiral lens of a) “coming from gratitude” for how NVC consciousness has manifested in life-generative ways (Celebration of LIfe); then b) “honoring our pain” for how our practice inevitably becomes ensnared (i.e. we become challenged beyond the resources we might otherwise wish to bring to bear — Openness to the Full Emotional Range & Balance); transmuting our anguish into c) “seeing through new eyes” (Accepting What Is); then d) “going forth” towards the week to come, inspired and resilient (Risking My Significance).  In the process of examining our week through the prism of this cycle, we’ll discover ways to become more resilient, as practitioners, despite whatever may be thrown our way!

By Dori Midnight
Drawing by Dori Midnight

The Whole Spiral
spiralsmThe books, Coming Back to LifeWorld as Lover, World as Self, and Thinking Like a Mountain, describe many forms of experiential group work relating to deep ecology, deep time, and despair and empowerment. Described below are additional practices that have evolved in our workshops and that have not yet been published.


The Whole Spiral

The Whole Spiral

The Whole Spiral

Chris Johnstone, Great Turning Times, December ’08

The central plot-line of this work follows a spiral of four elements: gratitude, honouring pain for the world, seeing with new eyes, and going forth. I’ve found the combination, and sequence, of these elements allows the emergence of something much more than the sum of the parts.

At a talk I gave recently, I asked people to divide in pairs and listen to each other completing the following sentences.

“Things I love about our world include…”

“Concerns I have about our world include…”

“A perspective I find inspiring or refreshing is…”

“Steps I can take to participate in the Great Turning include…”

This was a short and simple way of moving through these four elements. With two minutes for each sentence, it took about ten minutes each way, yet the process deeply touched many of those present. I’ve also used these four starts to sentences in my personal journaling, starting a fresh page with each one. Whenever I’m not sure what to write, I just start the sentence again and see what naturally follows. It has been liberating, a time of kindling the spark.

This entry was posted in Giraffe Consciousness, NVC & Other Modalities, Self-Responsibility, What's Up Next? and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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