Beans in our Ears
Most of us have learned the prevailing form of listening in our society. Much of the time we don't really listen. We listen, not to connect deeply with the experience of another, but to reply. Although our ears and eyes and finer sensibilities are operational as we listen, most of our attention is absorbed into the commentary running through our heads.
As a matter of habit, we automatically analyze, compare, judge, relate it to an associated personal experience, advise, counsel, or otherwise react without a deep awareness of what is really going on -- either inside ourselves or the other person. As a result, whole realms of emotional and intuitive energies remain beneath the level of our awareness. Rather than connect, we often end up bouncing off one another.
Thinking Outside the Box
As Thom Bond, Director of the New York Center for Nonviolent Communication, has written in The Compassion Course, an on-line year-long offering that I've taken (and encourage you to consider,) "Empathy is the exploration of our human experience... our feelings... our needs... our life energy trying to emerge and guide us. It is the mindful questioning, the wondering and the genuine curiosity about what we or someone else is going through."
What prevents us from being present in this way are the habitual patterns of thought and feeling that emerge as we communicate. In particular, Judgement Mind, that cluster of thoughts and feelings that stem from an our strong views about right/wrong, good/bad, valued/worthless, often dominate our awareness. (See Your Courtesy Wake Up Call: Judgment Day).
As Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) pointed out, this judgement mind is actually embedded deeply in the language we use. Our language emerged in a world that was based in the oppression of most of humanity by the power of the nobility and church. The very way we think and communicate continues to reinforce patterns of control, not patterns of compassion.
I've found that the worldview and skillful means presented in the teachings of Nonviolent Communication can do just that. We are given a way to speak and listen to one another differently.
NVC supports us to be more deeply mindful of the specific words we use, the array of emotional energies that are present, and the underlying human needs involved in our interactions. Used in combination with the quality of consciousness that emerges as a meditation practice deepens, it can be a game changer. With commitment and Practice, our communication can become Communion.
How cool is that?
The Price? They have made it readily accessible to all. YOU chose whether and how much to pay. Check it out. The 2020 Compassion Course.
Here's a quick overview: