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 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 and different processes we call “maps.”

The Self-Connection Process is a map to be able to find the inner “3rd chair” of awareness. From this place, you can navigate through the storminess and rough terrains of conflict to reach connection on the other side where new possibilities emerge for solving problems and for well being and happiness.

The 3rd chair is awareness, presence, and choice. In this place, the inner light of empathy shines on self and other, and you see with compassion the underlying commonality and connection that transforms and liberates. Action arises as choice, no demand, have to, or should, just kindness in service of well being.

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

Breath. Observe your breath. Follow it in and out. As you observe the breath, observe the conversation of thoughts in your mind — the consciously talking to yourself thoughts, words, beliefs, and the automatic, habitual thoughts that pass through: perceptions, images, stories, evaluations, judgments of others and yourself. With the breath as your anchor, over and over stepping back into the inner 3rd chair, observing the flow of thoughts and beliefs. Past, future, “self” and “other” come and go, arising and dissolving like shadowy, misty phantoms, pure potential, not actual. You are the space of awareness in which this coming and going happens. Sense perceptions come alive — sights, sounds, smells, touch, taste!

Body. Feel your body. Feel the conversation of sensations and emotions, especially the difficult ones: the fear, anger, hurt, suffering. Slow and deepen your breath, activating the parasympathetic nervous system, relaxing with each out breath. When thoughts come, such as who or what’s to blame, return to feeling rather than thinking, allowing your body to process and let go. From the inner 3rd chair, you are the presence that feels, not the feelings and thoughts pass through awareness. Positive and negative fades. There is just feeling the energy, aliveness, life force animating your body, flowing through you.

Need. At the source of thoughts and feelings are needs — human and universal — a language of life, of connection and commonality: safety, love, freedom. Even deeper, need is the space of connection that holds the conversation between conflicting thoughts and feelings, and the source of new creative synthesis and emergent possibilities. From the 3rd chair of awareness and presence, you can see, hear, feel the space that connects everything, the space between thoughts and feelings, self and other, the space that surrounds all we perceive and extends to infinity. From this place, you see with compassion everything, everything dancing the dance of need meeting needs.

“Do it only if it’s play,” my mentor Marshall Rosenberg would say. “Follow your bliss,” mythologist Joseph Campbell famously encouraged. Taking action becomes play and bliss when we’re in the service of meeting needs, following our heart, giving and receiving, when we’re using our enormous power to enrich life and make life better for others and ourselves. It is acting from an authentic place, and not from the demands of fear or anger. Can you sense the choice that quietly arises in you as request, the truth that wants to be chosen? Can you find the courage to let this choice choose you and the solution find you?We are the dance. Life is the Dancer. What new thoughts and actions flow in you from needs: inspiration, kindness, service, giving, gratitude, joy, beauty, love?

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