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)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I recently gave a seminar on Compassionate Communication: Nurturing Ourselves, Healing Our World. We spent a good part of the day reflecting, practicing, and offering one another nurturance and healing through self empathy, and out of that, taking the time for celebration and mourning. One participant asked me to elaborate on mourning and later said that this was an important aspect of life that does not get enough of her attention. What do I mean by mourning?

There are many ways to mourn. In the context of nonviolent communication we can say that it is taking the time to get in touch with our feelings and needs, and to rest in that "energy" and spaciousness without trying to fix it or move onto requests of ourselves or others. In this space we give ourselves, we move from "should" and "blame language" to looking to the underlying needs. By connecting to needs we connect to the pulse of life coming through us, and this can be healing even in the face of unmet needs and tragic choices that arise out of trying to meet a need. We may regret our choices and actions, or those of others, but we hold fast to our longings and dreams that are informed by connecting to universal needs. Giving ourselves time and energy to think about what might seem uncomfortable, frees us to treasure these needs, without discounting them just because an unmet need can bring up disquieting emotions.

So when you pick up the newspaper and read disturbing news, open an email, have a conversation, or recall a painful memory, take time to breathe and find the need behind the emotion. Take a few seconds or longer to think about this, meditate, or journal and give yourself full permission to feel and to treasure what you are learning about yourself and the good life, for yourself and for the world's beings.

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