Posts Tagged ‘Connection’
A couple of weeks ago I was sitting in my living room when my entire building started to rock, my glass of water trembled, my heart raced, and my cat flew out of the room in fear. It was an earthquake. A week later, it happened again only this time everything rocked even more.
Earthquakes are one of the disadvantages of living in California; so far we have been very lucky that the magnitude has been low.
The thing that was most striking to me was that once the earthquakes were done, my cat bit me. An angry bite that didn’t hurt, but her ears were down and she looked mad. She looked mad but I knew she was acting out of fear so I picked her up, kissed her face, and snuggled with her until she calmed. I think it was nurturing to her and I know it was to me.
Have you ever been scared and responded with anger?
We live in an intensive time, don’t we? Many of us are confronted with loved ones whose perspective is remarkably different from our own – and both sides often feel quite desperate and overwhelmed.
So I’m thinking it’s time for me to come back to the basics, and maybe this is true for you too. I frequently come back to the basics when my relationships seem challenging or harder than I think they need to be. So, please join me in NVC Basic 101…
When I lived in the mountains, March meant a slight lessening of the chill in the air. There was a lot of snow still, but it was wet and heavy and was often followed by a rain that would melt it quickly. And then, magically, I’d see a daffodil bloom poke its head out of the snow and feel gleeful. Spring is on the way! And it’s time to ready myself for it.
This morning I’m thinking about Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of Nonviolent Communication (NVC), and feeling deeply grateful for my own emotional thawing that happened as a result of my NVC work.
I came to NVC angry and heavy with pent-up and unexpressed emotions. I didn’t understand the impact of all I had been holding onto until one moment in a workshop when I received full-on, connecting empathy for the first time. My emotions burst open and I felt completely free in a way I had never before experienced: the kind of freedom that happens when we are seen and understood – and there’s an allowing for all emotion.
It’s the last month of 2018… Whoosh!
As I write these words, many of the events of 2018 are running through my mind. Some of them were deeply painful, others exquisitely joyful. Many more were filled with meaning for one reason or another. All of them represent my response or reaction to life.
The one thing I have control over is how I respond to life.
December calls me to review what has transpired throughout the past year: my behaviors… my reaction to others’ behaviors… events or relationships I’ve mourned… and awareness around how my limited thinking can create greater suffering for me and others. Part of this reviewing process also involves clarifying the qualities or values I’d like to bring into the next year.
This is sacred work, because I believe the Law of Attraction: that what I put forth will be returned to me.
Several years ago, at a time when I was feeling especially judgmental of my parents and how they raised me and my siblings, I was driving down the road ruminating on their lack of generosity.
Have you had times like this? Times when you found yourself running the same stories through your head, and they all have the same ending: the ending that makes the other person — or yourself — stay in your bad graces?
So on this particular day, I was ruminating on my parents’ lack of generosity while driving down the road and heading to a cabin by the ocean, near where I was raised in Washington State (one of my favorite places in the world), when it occurred to me:
Halloween is right around the corner, so I’ve been thinking a lot about the masks: specifically, the masks we all wear to protect ourselves. I’ve been wondering… How far am I willing to go to release my resentments that mask my life experience and keep distance between myself and others? What does wearing this mask cost me? And what value does it hold for me?
This is coming up because my Chinese medicine doctor told me that the lower part of the belly — where I have a painful condition (shingles) — is known as the basin. “It’s where all the junk is collected and held,” he said.
Junk like old and unhealed resentments. Darn it. Darn it. Darn it.
For the past few months, I’ve been thinking about and supporting others in taking steps towards healing the seemingly uncomfortable divide between our families, communities, and countries. It can seem so hard to even open a conversation about our political differences, let alone locate common ground we can agree on.
I have people in my life I love dearly who appear to hold political views that differ radically from mine. We’ve chosen not to discuss politics. I think this is because of our desire to maintain our connection and respect for one another, based on mutual love and caring.
I confess I spent the first week after Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States in mourning, deep despair, and bewilderment. I felt as if someone I loved had punched me in the chest. Many people I love, in fact, voted for him. They too were feeling despair: despair that I didn’t vote for him, and confusion about why I felt so devastated.
During that first week, I led several meditations on peace in different national and international venues. I offered formal and informal empathy sessions to many people, and listened to many more: hundreds of stories about enormous pain from families, spouses, and loved ones who had suddenly found themselves deeply divided.
It was exhausting — until I said “STOP,” and allowed myself the space to receive empathy, to offer it to myself, and to grieve and grieve and grieve my own grief.
And then I got clear (really clear!) that I wanted to focus on healing the gap between those of us who didn’t vote for Donald Trump, and those who did – and all our life experiences that led us to this point.
Thich Nhat Hahn says, “We need someone to be able to listen to us and to understand us. Then, we will suffer less. But everyone is suffering, and no one wants to listen.”
I am listening.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”
I first heard this quote many years ago and it took a little longer for the deeper meaning of it to sink in. At the time, I was working for a small organization. Each week we’d hold our staff meetings and I’d leave discouraged and disappointed because I didn’t think we were hearing each other or connecting at the depth I’d hoped for. My judgment was that the others didn’t want to connect.
I chewed on my judgment for several months, became more disgruntled and judgmental.
Then, one morning as I was waking up, I started grumbling about how we’d have another staff meeting that wouldn’t be connecting or enjoyable, and a voice rang through my head: “Mary, if you want to connect, connect.”
Welcome to February, which for me is the month of Love. I am especially heartened or possibly humbled to remember to invoke Love as we begin the Trump administration here in the USA, when I experience how deeply divided we are as a nation and a world community, when I consider the trauma millions (yes millions) of refugees must have experienced when they fled the middle east in 2016 and continue to experience now, and so many other devastating issues that affect our world’s people.
It can be equally challenging for me to invoke Love in my own daily life when someone makes a racial or sexist comment, when I empathize with an African American friend who is terrified for her son’s life, or when our bikes are stolen out of our secured garage….