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, February 28, 2010

Relax into No Right, No Wrong (It's Not Alright!)

Recently I joined a group called, "Consciousness Transformation Community" facilitated by Miki Kashtan. On a phone call yesterday we of this virtual community spoke of the importance of feedback. I found myself moved by the practice of coming to a place of trust in the moment. So often I want to lead the conversation, or to just listen in so that I can give all that I can to the people involved. In so doing, I mourn that often I do not trust that the highest ideal of where I wish to be in relationship with others and with myself is with the beauty of existence and the power of connection. I'm wanting to "fix" the world and heal it. Perhaps we can judge this as noble, however, I find that it keeps me from authentic life-giving connection.

For instance, imagine that after delivering a sermon at my congregation, one person on the way out shakes my hand and says, "Your sermon didn't feed me today." What are my options? I can ask more questions of this person to see what needs of theirs are unmet, or perhaps engage in a way that helps me find out more about the feedback that will help me "heal the world" more efficiently in the future. Or maybe, just maybe I can relax and trust, and share with this person what is in my heart - to go for the connection without reacting to the content of the feedback. In this case I might say something like, "I feel sad to hear this because I can see how much you long for support and community this morning. Is this right?" In checking in with the other person, not leading or avoiding the conversation, I offer a prayer to the relationship gods and goddesses that I may rest in the field beyond wrongdoing and rightdoing.

Where do you diminish your chance for connection and speaking from the heart because you are concentrating on content, strategies, or "doing the right thing?"

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Questions Elicit Wisdom

Yesterday I heard Nonviolent Communication Trainer Miki Kashtan speak about the power of questions. If we can ask a question to help others see the value of something in their lives, they are more likely to listen to what learning you have to offer to them.

For instance, consider you would like to help your son see the connection between his feelings and his needs. You really long for him to be able to recognize what needs are coming up for him, so he can be a powerful agent in his own life to creatively work well with others to address these needs. Instead, you have been frustrated and saddened that he seems to be angry quite a bit, and blames this on you. So, you can ask him if he'd be willing to listen to the importance of connecting his anger to what needs lie underneath, or perhaps you could ask him this:

After you have expressed anger towards someone else, how do you feel later, and does it impact your relationship with them?

When you have been angry, what has worked for you to lessen your anger?

When you see that other people are angry, what have you seen others do to help them deal with their anger?

Out of these conversations he might be able to come up with what you hoped to "teach him" and he might open up to more listening to you because he appreciates respect and being heard. By questioning, you can bring to consciousness the wisdom within us all.

Where in your life do you wish to share/teach something to someone, where a question along might bring out the wisdom of the other?

Monday, February 15, 2010

And Also

A few nights back I had a dream where "the answer" to life and the complexity of our days was "and also." It was a phrase to be uttered whenever I had a thought, or a judgment of a situation. By saying "and also" I cued myself to keep opening up to possibility and to what was going on in me and others. To say these words was to keep the heart open to what might be the deeper truth of my days - that all beings have inherent worth and dignity and that every moment is rich with the possibility of understanding and interconnection.

For instance, I might think, I am tired and don't want to work on this project.

And also...

I enjoy this project I am doing and the people who will be there.

And also...

My body is telling me I am sleepy and it would be good to take a nap

And also...

Wow, a nap in the sun would be so nice right now.

And also...

Gosh, the sun and sky are so beautiful today after all the rain.

And also...

It is good to be alive this day and to slow down to see the beauty before me.

What do you do to keep your heart open to possibility and connection?

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.