Self-Connection in the Midst of Difficulty


The Self-Connection Process

In our Mediate Your Life training, we offer what is called a Self-Connection Process. This process integrates nondual mindfulness with the basic language components of Compassionate Communication (Nonviolent Communication/NVC). The language components are: observation, feeling, need, request. In our training, these components are held within a 3-chair mediation framework (a mediator and two disputants) and different processes we call “maps.”

The Self-Connection Process is a map to be able to find the inner “3rd chair” of awareness to aid you in navigating through the storminess and rough terrains of conflict to reach connection on the other side, where new possibilities emerge. From awareness, there is the possibility to access an unconditional quality of well being, happiness, and peace. The light of empathy shines on “self” and “other,” and you see with compassion the underlying commonality that transforms and liberates.

From this perspective, confronting suffering and challenges becomes a mythological journey in which you meet along the way all manner of dangers, dark caves, dragons and demons that arise out of the fight-flight-freeze, survival-oriented part of the brain. In overcoming these challenges you bring into your world, and into the world, a gift and a greater richness and beauty of life. I believe, as Joseph Campbell, that some form of mythology and transcendence, a relationship with the Mystery of life, is vital to human well being and thriving.

The Steps of the Self-Connection Process: Breath, Body, Need

Breath. Observe your breath. Follow it in and out. You are Awareness, not the Thinker of your thoughts. In observing the breath, observe your thoughts — the consciously talking to yourself thoughts, words, beliefs, and the automatic, habitual thoughts that pass through: images, stories, evaluations, judgments of others and yourself. With the breath as an anchor, over and over stepping back into observing the person you believe yourself to be. Letting go the sense of self, surrendering identity to awareness. From this perspective, the reality of thoughts dissolves away, like shadowy, misty phantoms that come and go, pure potential not actual. Sense perceptions come alive — sights, sounds, smells, touch, taste!

Body. Feel the body’s presence. Feel sensations and emotions, especially the difficult feelings: the fear, anger, hurt, suffering. When thoughts come, such as who or what’s to blame, return to feeling rather than thinking, accepting all of experience with kindness, allowing the body to process, integrate, and let go the emotional charge. Slow and deepen the breath, activating the parasympathetic nervous system, relaxing with each out breath. Positive and negative fades. There remains just the presence of energy, aliveness, life force animating and flowing through the body, and through everything in awareness.

Need. Choosing compassion. At the source of thought and feeling is need — human and universal — a way of connecting with underlying commonality and connectedness, wholeness and oneness. Life itself. With even the most painful and difficult of situations, it is a way of seeing with compassion everything, everything dancing the dance of need meeting needs: safety, connection, love, freedom…. “We are all created out of the same energy,” my mentor Marshall Rosenberg would say, and do something “only if it’s play.” In mythologist Joseph Campbell’s famously proclaimed words, “follow your bliss.” Taking action becomes play and bliss when we’re in service of meeting needs, following our heart, giving and receiving, when we’re making life better for others and ourselves in our own authentic way, and not acting from the demands of fear or anger. Can you sense the choice that comes from this honesty and courage, the truth that wants to be chosen? Can you let the solution find you, and the choice choose you? We are the dance, not the Dancer. What new thoughts and actions flow from inspiration, prayer, compassion, kindness, service, giving, gratitude, joy, love?

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