Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.
I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn't make any sense.
- (Sufi Poet Rumi)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Come, Come Whoever You Are

Come, Come, Whoever You Are

Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn't matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow
a thousand times
Come, yet again, come, come.

As we end the year I wonder if you look back over the months and wonder where you have broken your vows – to others, to yourself, to life, to other animals? (http://liberatingwings.typepad.com/liberating_wings/2008/12/covenanting-with-cotorros.html).
To be human is to break from life, to leave joy and relationships behind, and to fall into despair. To be human is also to come back to life again and again.

Compassionate Communication Consciousness is not about getting the relationship, action, thought, or conversation “right.” It is about watching how life seeks to flow through you in ever greater joy and creativity, and then to reopen to current possibilities. With every new thought, word, action, and breath we can come yet again and again to joyful living.

Here’s how this might happen.

Suppose you just had a emotionally charged discussion with your partner and they left angry, and you frustrated. You wonder if you two can ever “get it right” and feel a bit ashamed that you blamed your partner for his/her actions, instead of being open to their experiences as you promised you would in either spoken or unspoken relational agreements. You can choose to get on a spitting camel and ride off into the sunset alone, or you might have this conversation with your partner.

You: I’m remembering today our discussion about our children yesterday and I’m feeling sad that I was not able to hear what is going on for you regarding our Christmas shopping list. Would you be willing to talk about this now?

Partner: Oh man, I really don’t have the energy to get into it now.

You: I’m guessing that you feel hopeless that we can figure this out together?

Partner: That’s right, we always go round and round the same argument.

You: You’d really like to be heard, really heard and understood. Is that right?

Partner: Yeah, but you seem so set on having one more very special Christmas and I don’t see how we can afford it.

You: You are worried about our financial situation?

Partner: How can anyone not be these days. Plus, I’d really like to live more simply.

You: I’m guessing that you are overwhelmed at work, doing all the volunteer activities we do, plus raising the kids. It doesn’t leave us much time to figure out what we could do together, and that’s frustrating.

Partner (shifting in body language – more open): That’s so true honey. I miss you and all the fun we use to have together.

You: So do I, so do I. That’s why I’d really like to see if we can figure out a way to have a really fun Christmas and Winter Holidays that considers all our needs, including having fun! Want to go for a walk now and see what we might come up with?

Partner: Hey, that’d be great, just great. Maybe this really will be a special Christmas this year!

The two people didn’t really connect in the argument yesterday, but they did during this one. Perhaps when they go on the walk, they’ll shift back into blame and feel distant from one another. That’s okay because life never gives up on us. Ever before us, though it may seem like you have to cross a desert to get there, is a rising sun, a new day, and ever greater chance for light in our lives. If not in this moment, then possibly the next, again, and again. Come to life. Come to joy. Come.

Changing as the Sun Turns

In this time of sun's turning and the New Year, I wonder if you are thinking like me of the possibility of change? Can we repair the wounds and mistakes of our past into a more hopeful future? Can we really change behavior and thought patterns? I really think that we can. Recent brain science research shows that growing as well as aging brains are capable of major adjustments. We can continually grow in Social Intelligence, which means getting our “high road” cognition to talk to our “low road” emotional primal responses. We can gain awareness of our feelings and how they are triggered not just by stimuli, but also by thoughts and stories from our past. We can then free ourselves from pain, shame, and guilt of the past by bringing up the memory and “restoring” them back in the brain with a different story that is based on the inherent worth and beauty in each of us, and not of blame on ourselves and on others.

Here’s an example of how this might work.

Parent: When I see you sitting around not doing your homework I get so angry.

Child: What are you angry about?

Parent: Well, I really need for you to do well at school so you will have a good life and be able to take care of yourself.

Child: Mom, I’m passing and doing okay, you know that. Is there something more going on? Something from your past?

Parent: Well, I didn’t do well in school and my parents were so disappointed in me. They yelled at me a lot and thought I was lazy. I guess I was.

Child: I’m guessing you had a lot of other things you needed to do at that time, that were more exciting or more important than school work. Is that right?

Parent: Well, I was working a job to get a car that I really wanted and I spent more time at the job and fixing up the car than at homework.

Child: But Mom, you are so good with cars. In fact, you’re the best mechanic in town and that’s how you support our family. I’m guessing working on that car in high school was what you loved to do.

Parent: I sure did and I still do. So I guess I wasn’t lazy, I just made different choices at that time. But boy, I sure paid for it. Getting an automechanic’s license at the community college was so hard. I almost didn’t graduate.

Child: So you regret how hard it was for you to get to where you are today, and I guess you’d like for me to have it easier.

Parent: I sure would. I sure would. Hey, I’m not so angry any more. I guess you are just making different choices right now, like I did.

Child: Yes I am, but I’d really like to help ease your worry for me. Would you be willing to help me out with my algebra homework?

Parent: I can sure try, and after that, why don’t we go work on your car for a while?

Child: Sure!

This may seem like an idyllic conversation in many ways, however, the possibility over time of having this kind of conversation exists for each and every one of us. We can reduce our emotional response to triggers from the past and come to the present moment fully appreciative of what is going on in us, in others, and in this awesome, wondrous world around us. In this way we can ease the burden of our stories from the past, let go of judgment, and open up a path to the creative possibilities around us in every moment. We’ve all been lost in our lives, and with the very next thought or word, peace and joy can find us. May this be so for you in this season of celebration, change from dark to light, and the New Year.