Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Where the inner work and the outer work meet and merge.
Friday December 17, 6pm - Sunday December 19, 1pm, 2010
Gainesville Retreat Center
A weekend retreat combining the wisdom and practice of Zen Buddhism and Nonviolent Communication
From presence flows greater compassion for all beings. In presence, we nourish our spirits so that all life may flourish. This retreat offers guidance and sustenance for your inner work, empowering you to be totally present to the reality of relationships, humanity, and earth. Such presence helps heal our world.
The retreat will introduce:
· the basics of Nonviolent Communication;
· meditation practice in the Zen tradition;
· the mutual interdependence of “inner” work and “outer” relationship work.
Together we will share sitting and walking meditation, floating meditation (there's a heated pool), and nature meditation. Interspersed throughout the weekend will be time for individual reflection and journaling, as well as group learning in both NVC and Zen Buddhism. A more detailed schedule and directions will be mailed at a later date.
Retreat Leaders: Revv. Meredith Garmon and LoraKim Joyner (Unitarian Univeraslist)
Meredith is senior minister of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
of Gainesville, a Zen practitioner for 9 years,
and a senior student
Sanbo Kyodan Zen school
Sanbo Kyodan Zen school
LoraKim is a UU minister who has served in
congregations in Raleigh, NC; El Paso, TX; and
Gainesville, FL and is a Certified Trainer
in Nonviolent Communication
(based on Marshall Rosenberg's work and the
Center for Nonviolent Communication
Location: Gainesville Retreat Center
Time: Friday at 6 p.m. (begins with dinner) until Sunday at noon (ends with lunch).
Accommodations: The retreat center is a converted large home on over 100 acres near Newnan Lake. The home beds 12 people in a dormitory style setting. Meals are simple, but ample and delicious vegetarian. We have space for 25 people at the retreat. You may choose other lodging or commute during the day.
Costs: Two nights lodging with all meals: $120 double, $160 single
Daytrippers: 2 lunches, 2 dinners: $65
Registration: To register, email LoraKim with your intention to attend. To reserve your spot, send a check to LoraKim.
Deadline: December 1, 2010.
firstname.lastname@example.org, 352-375-8531, 3109 NW 35th Terrace, Gainesville, FL 32605
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Last weekend I facilitated a Nonviolent Communication training hosted by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Miami and just yesterday I was at the UUA Midsouth District Healthy Congregation Meeting where I facilitated NVC during a 4 hour workshop. I've got empathy and honesty on the brain, and some very lovely and dedicated people in my heart.
Part of the way I conduct seminars is to role play with participants so they can keep their hearts open in order to empathize with others, and with themselves. The goal is to not get into "thinking" and "defending" your position, but to offer empathy to the other if you feel they need it. This takes practice to do, because we so often think that if the other person just understood our position, they would do what we want. Clarity is always a good thing, however, people who need empathy often aren't able to hear explanations and requests. So we practice empathy, empathy, empathy.
Just this week there was an editorial cartoon in the Gainesville Sun with President Clinton teaching empathy to President Obama. I imagined myself role playing with Obama in this scenario. I would coach him by saying he started off well by checking in with the feelings of Clinton. His next step would then to be to link feelings with universal needs instead of going into explanations.
For instance, he might have said, "I'm guessing that you are anxious and frustrated, because you really long for empathy and an authentic connection with me. Is this right?"
To which, in my role play I would say as President Clinton. "Yes, I'm frustrated, but it's because you talk so much about empathy without really doing it. We are losing our democratic majority. Can't you just connect to the people?"
To which Obama, in my dreams, would reply, "You long for mutual empowerment in the government, with me, so that we can bring about a country where all people, and all beings, flourish. I want that too. Would you be willing to bring in an NVC facilitator so that me and my staff can keep our hearts open so that the needs of all are on the table, without making enemy images of those who have different strategies?"
In my dream that night, I really did dream of Obama. He was unsure at first, and then broke out laughing and was joyful with me. I awoke wondering if somehow we had gotten empathy from me, and so was able to connect to this heart, and to all hearts.
May the healing power of empathy be his and yours this day.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Recently I attended a retreat of Unitarian Universalists of Mississippi. We were speaking of the joys and sorrows in our lives as a theme for the weekend. Out of sharing of stories and experiences we discovered a trend. The source of our pain is also the source of our joy. For instance, if we are feeling disconnected in relationships, it is because we long for connection. Our feelings of sorrow or discomfort aren't the fault of someone else, the society, or our species. We are responsible for our own feelings, which tell us what our deep longings are. Other examples include the loss of a relationship or someone who has died. We ache for love and intimacy.
So how do we "fix" our longings? If we long for love, and there isn't enough of it and we feel lonely or sad, then, quite simply, the "fix" is more love. We can't control the behavior of another, but each of us, even just for one second or one breath, can get in touch with our deepest longings of love, for example, and bring more love into the world by shifting from blame of others or ourselves into just being love and thinking love. As the hymn goes, there is more love, somewhere, and it is inside each of us.
So, here's the fix, simple in concept, but difficult to follow through on.. Thank goodness we have one another for support and to practice.
1. What are you feeling now.
2. Identify what you long for.
3. Breathe in and connect to this longing without judgment of others or yourself.
4. Find a way to bring about what you long for in yourself and in your relationships.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Life is such an onion, as is the work of Compassionate Communication. Just when I think I "get" that there is freedom in letting go of strategies, I realize that there are deeper layers. I discover that I have much, much more to let go of. For instance, I had chosen to lose a significant amount of weight a few years ago so that I could move more easily and with less pain. My goal was to be able to conduct field research in the tropics, and the extra weight was aggravating my arthritic knee, not to mention causing difficulty when carrying packs in hot and humid conditions. I was successful because I concentrated on the needs of health and contribution, and not on the feelings and thoughts that brought up shame and guilt. What I am finding out now is that having a "fit body" for me had turned into just one more strategy. Furthermore, contributing to field research and avian conservation became a strategy to meet my needs for mattering. These strategies were threatening to cage me and limit my choices. So I am working on letting go of these as strategies. In so doing, I find that I have more joy in life in this moment, and in fact, feel that I have greater choice and freedom to meet the needs of the moment that ultimately matter. Perhaps I'll gain weight and have to give up field research due to age and arthritis, however, by letting go of those "have to strategies" I might find a world of possibility opening up to me.
Where do you hold tight onto a strategy, only to find that this does not contribute to life in the way you had hoped?
Sunday, August 22, 2010
I have recently returned from several weeks of being among bird people, attending bird veterinarian conferences, bird breeding conferences, avian veterinary clinics, and pet bird owners of flocks. There was a time when I could not have spent enjoyable time amongst them, for I thought they were "wrong" for keeping wild birds in captivity. Through the deep work of Compassionate Communication I have learned to see that these people are not wrong, nor am I. Life flows through them just as it does me, striving to bring appreciation, beauty, companionship, and nurturing to their lives. They love birds, I love birds. I care for birds, they care for birds. The difference is, and the potential conflict is, that they choose to do so by keeping birds in cages in their homes, or treating captive birds in their clinics, while I choose to work with wild parrots in Latin America. Our strategies differ, but we are interdependent with one another, not separate, but worthy and lovely. We share life. Because I appreciate our common humanity and might empathize with them, I can be among them, and even more important to me, love them for who they are and keep my heart open to the beauty that is their lives. Striving to relate through common needs does not mean that I do not mourn their strategies. Indeed, after several weeks of being among captive birds and hearing of their hard lives in captivity, I am ready for a break. My heart hurts to witness such suffering. This also doesn't mean that I don't tell others what is going on in my heart. Indeed there were many such discussions. In that sharing, my aching heart does find relief, for at the level of universal needs, of mattering and seeing that other species matter, we were able to connect.
By seeing our discomfort as being at the level of strategy, and not at the level of universal needs, we find ways to empathize with one another, support one another, and hopefully help one another see that we matter so that we can work in ways together that reflect the needs of all beings.
Where do you disengage from others because your strategies differ?
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
I stopped the car and ran back and across the road
and picked up the box turtle, who only
hissed and withdrew herself into her pretty shell.
Well, goodness, it was early in the morning, not too much traffic.
Rather an adventure than a risk, and anyway
who would give aid to such a shy citizen?
Who wouldn't complete the journey for it, taking it of course
in the direction of its desire: a pinewoods
where, as I learned, the blueberries ripen early.
Probably she had thought, in the middle of the night-
Ah, it's time.
Sometimes I think our own lives are watched over like that.
Out of the mystery of the hours and the days
Something says-Let's give this one a little trial.
Let's say, put a turtle in the road she's traveling on, and
in a hurry.
Let's see how her life is measuring up, that lucky girl.
So much happiness, so much good fortune. Ah, it's time.
The Measure - by Mary Oliver
Not even a month ago coming back from a day swimming in the springs on my birthday my spouse and I moved a large female gopher tortoise from the middle of the road. We took a little risk to scamper quickly to save such a precious life along a fast paced road. That same month we moved a box turtle as well into safety. Yet, in our own yard, a small girl tortoise I found dead, smashed by an exiting car in our own driveway. We live at the end of a dirt road in the woods, and it seemed such a rare thing that tortoise just happened to be in the wrong place and the wrong time. She was not as lucky as the other two.
Maybe that's why we humans stay within our shells and do not travel about or journey from our sameness and tameness into wild sacredness. In the night a dream comes to us and with the sun's rising we feel perky with possibility. Then what happens?Somewhere along the line we falsely intuit that we don't measure up, or other's don't, or reality doesn't. Don't you think that it's time to cross that road and get into that field beyond wrongdoing and rightdoing?
Now is the time to know
That all that you do is sacred.
Now is the time to understand
That all your ideas of right and wrong
Were just a child's training wheels
To be laid aside
When you finally live
Now is the time for the world to know
That every thought and action is sacred.
This is the time for you to compute the impossibility
That there is anything
Now is the season to know
That everything you do
-Hafiz, A Sufi Poet
What might you do or where might you go if you knew that everything you do is sacred?
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
A Poem By Mary Oliver
August 2, 2010
And the raccoon are brothers.
You have your soft ideas about nature,
He has others,
And they are full of his
And lip that curls, sometimes,
You love this earnest dog,
But also you admire the raccoon
And Lord help you in your place
Of hope and improbables.
To the black-masked gray one:
Run! You say Run!
You say and just as urgently, to the dog:
And he won’t or he will,
Depending on more things than I could name.
He’s sure he’s right
And you, so tangled in your mind,
Though patient and pacific.
And you are downcast.
And it’s his eyes, not yours,
That are clear and bright.
I once read an article about the violence between siblings. Brothers can pound horribly on one another – it is their way. So when I think of the raccoon and dog as brothers, and also caught in a terrible predator – prey cycle, I think of course, it is their way. Then I think of the human companion who feels the suffering of the one, and the responsibility of the other, and ultimately shame and guilt plays tag with acceptance for what is our way – to be complex social creatures who navigate in confusion the harm that we interconnected siblings inflict upon one another. We want there to be a right way and because we cannot discern how to meet everyone’s needs, we feel inadequate. What if we could move beyond wrongdoing and rightdoing as Rumi suggests in his poem?
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing,
There is a field.
I will 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 sense.
We could lie down in that field and play, and as we rubbed our noses in the fresh dirt and smelled the flowers, our hands would linger upon a half-buried bone, a sign of the carnage of our past and of our future. My prayer is that we do not run from that field, but stay engaged with reality and one another – no wrong doing, no right doing, but sure as heck a lot of pain and discomfort. My eyes are bright with living this possibility well, of helping each other hold awareness and acceptance of not a soft nature, but of a terribly beautiful whole and hard nature.
Do you think that predation and prey is an inevitable cycle in our lives; or, can we use our evolution possibility to support collaboration even more than competition?
Saturday, July 24, 2010
I know a bleeding-heart plant that has thrived for sixty years if not more, and has never missed a spring without rising and spreading itself into a glossy bush, with many small red hearts dangling. Don't you think that deserves a little thought? The woman who planted it has been gone for a long time, and everyone who saw it in that time has also died or moved away and so, like so many stories, this one can't get finished properly. Most things that are important, have you noticed, lack a certain neatness. More delicious, anyway, is to remember my grandmother's pleasure when the dissolve of winter was over and the green knobs appeared and began to rise, and to create their many hearts. One would say she was a simple woman, made happy by simple things. I think this was true. And more than once, in my long life, I have wished to be her.
Once upon a time there were a humanoid people whose heart's cycled with the seasons. In the winter, their hearts shrunk to the size of a raison. The cold snows echoed their cool souls and empty faces. Come the spring their hearts began to grow and by summer would be so big that you could see them beating through their skin, emitting a pink glow around their chests. All summer long they would forget their work and their worries, and spend their days laughing in the rivers and ponds, embraced by life, love, and one another. Their favorite past time was to press their chests against one another and see how long their hearts could beat in perfect synchronization. Come fall they held on to each other's hands as if it was the last time ever. And of course it would be, at least until the following spring. Why do I wish I were they?
This longing, wishing to live with an open heart with others, no matter how much it bleeds, is the art of compassionate communication consciousness. For out of the longing, and the mourning for those long dark times of perceived separation, comes the blooming of new life.
How does your heart wax and wane?
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
“We need an inclusive movement and need to eliminate anything that stands in the way of that.” These were words during the presentation, “Fiddling While Rome Burns,” given by Shane Mahoney the plenary speaker for the International Congress of Conservation Biology. I couldn’t agree with him more. In fact, my efforts in conservation in the last decade have been committed to finding ways to support the human dimensions of conservation so that we can get along, not just for greater satisfaction and sustainability on conservation teams, but for the sake of all life. The earth needs us now, not some time in the distant future when we might decide to work with others who are different from us, or who think of wildlife differently.
A pertinent and timely example of this comes from the placement of the Lafeber Conservation and Wildlife booth at this conference. I am on “Trapper Row.” On my aisle of the exhibit hall are 3 trapper organizations and one safari group. Just to my left are the skins of lynx, wolf, beaver, and wolverine and examples of many kinds of leg traps. The most common question I get from people who pass by is not “what do you do,” or “what is Emeraid,” but “how do you feel being next to trappers?” That’s a good question, I tell the people, and then they proceed to give me their views. The thought is that trappers don’t have a place in true compassionate conservation solutions. I have also talked to the trappers on my row. They say they love the animals and their habitats, and want the same things I do – sustainability, diversity, and abundance. Yet, our strategies are so very different.
Though the strategy of trapping brings up pain for me, if I think that I do not share the same universal needs as the trappers, then I won’t be able to empathize with them. If I can’t empathize with them, then we won’t be able to see each other as belonging on this planet, belonging at the table, and belonging at the conference.
Shane ended his talk by saying that we are human because of the different other and that in all of us is some part of God. Without talking to him about this I can’t be sure what he means. What he says to me is this. Though my heart aches to imagine the suffering and stress of an animal bound in a leg trap, I will not close my heart to that pain and that conversation with the different other. For if I close my heart to the pain, I close my heart to the beauty, the joy, and the possibility of what we might create together. I also diminish how I can be the change I wish to see in the world. For if I settle for blaming the trapper, the hunter, the cattle rancher, I risk settling for not looking at my own complicity in harm in the world. So dear trappers, thank you for being at this conference so that I might just get to know your mind, and in the attempt, get to not just know my mind, but change it to feel interconnection and empathy with all beings. May the traps of the mind so free me, and all beings.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
This past week I have been attending the Unitarian Universalist Annual General Assembly. The body of delegates voted overwhelmingly to approve a Statement of Consciousness: Creating Peace. This document speaks of having Peace Teams within congregations that obtain training in Compassionate Communication. In addition, for peace in relationships, individuals are encouraged to learn and practice skills in compassionate communication. Then, later in the plenary meeting the executive director of the Association of Theological Schools spoke about the complex interpersonal aspects of congregational life for which current academic programs do not prepare ministers adequately. Wow. Three calls within as many days for humans to engage in peace making skills through the spiritual practice of interpersonal communication! I have such hope that we are evolving not just as an association of congregations, but as a people. Perhaps I know this best from my own growth through compassionate communication, which has allowed me to play in multiple fields of peacemaking and ministry, and surprisingly, often with joy. May it be so for you as well.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Oh, yesterday, that one, we all cry out. Oh, that one! How rich and possible everything was! How ripe, ready, lavish, and filled with excitement-how hopeful we were on those summer days, under the clean, white racing clouds. Oh yesterday!
I was in the hold burn dump-no longer used…Here a pair of hummingbirds lived every summer, as if the only ones of their kind…I near strolled, and was almost always sure to see the male hummingbird on his favorite high perch near the top of a wild cherry tree, looking out across his kingdom with bright eye, and even brighter throat…a plane, a black triangle, flew screaming from the horizon, heavy talons clenched and lumpy on its undersides. And, lo, the hummingbird cringed, it hugged itself to the limb, it hunkered, it quivered. It was God’s gorgeous, flashing jewel: afraid. All narrative is metaphor.
After the storm the ocean returned..so there was the world: sky, water, the pale sand and, where the tide had reached the day’s destination, the snow. And this detail: the body of a duck, a golden-eye; and beside it one black-backed gull. In the body of the duck, among the breast feathers, a hole perhaps an inch across: the color within the hole a shouting red. And bend it as you might, nothing was to blame: storms must toss, and the great black-backed gawker must eat, and so on. It was merely a moment. The sun, angling out from the bunched clouds, cast one could easily imagine tenderly over the landscape its extraordinary light.
Is life just a moment, balanced between fear and tenderness? Does the tide come in and yesterday was lush and we feel expansive and open, and then the tide goes out and we constrict with fear and scarcity? It seems to be so. We are God’s precious jewels sparkling in the sand, eater and eaten, afraid. Okay, maybe I can accept this. What brings me angst and a hollow thumping of the heart though, is that I will seek to blame God, the world, the gull, the plane, you, me. And as the tide goes out and the sun sets, I will think that I am lonely, alone worthy of praise or blame, of praising of blaming. Oh be still my cognitive self and let the story rest for a while in the calm of an intertidal zone, for all stories are metaphor as Mary says. Beneath it all lies shared being – no life, no death, just sparkling amazement lying amongst the ever present grains of fear.
Where can you open to amazement and let go of blame and judging?
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Less than two weeks ago there was quite the news about an umpire, Jim Joyce, who made a "wrong" call and cost a baseball pitcher, Armando Galarrago, his perfect game (http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20100602&content_id=10727590).
The following day the same umpire who had made the "bad" call came onto the field with tears in his eyes. What brings tears to my eyes is the genuine compassion and sense of fair play of the Detroit fans. They seemed to come to a collective empathetic state by knowing what Joyce must be feeling - they gave him a standing ovation. An event that could have unfolded in recriminations and blame that represent the worst in our species, turned into something that heralds the best in us.
Charles Krauthammer noted that Galarrago will now be a more memorable figure in baseball than if he'd been fairly granted his perfect game by Joyce's correct call at first base. He speculates that a new verb has been created for when one has been extraordinarily screwed: He's been Galarragoed. Maybe instead we will use this verb to mean when we have realized what's really important in life, even more important than pitching a perfect game. (thanks to Gary Schouborg for your thinking and writing on this topic). There is much grace that can come to us and the world when we connect to our needs and values, even when we don't get what we originally set out to get.
May you be Galarragoed today.