Compassion course: week 5

Hey there! This is the fourth installment in a weekly svadjaja (self study) series I’m doing based on NYCNVC’s online Compassion Course. As I go through the weekly lessons offered in the course, I share my thoughts here. Check out last week’s post on needs and strategies!

Oh man, did I need some compassion this week! Though the lesson for this week was to notice subtler, “non eventful” interactions, I’ve been preoccupied with moving out of our apartment and becoming nomads for the next 5 months. I haven’t been very good about keeping a journal and jotting down interactions throughout the week. However, my weekly NVC group has kept me coming back to the NVC mindset and given me an opportunity to practice this skill with others. It’s such an open and warm atmosphere that we’re creating, and a grounding experience of Being Present for each other and for ourselves for 90 minutes each week. I’ll be sad to leave the group — but also looking forward to connecting with NVCers outside of the US.

I had two big take-aways from this week’s lesson:

1. Noticing and listening are a big deal.

Simply being present for yourself or another goes a long way. It sounds easy, yet I often either assume it’s happening or dismiss it as unnecessary. But I’ve noticed that really being paying attention — not thinking of a response, going through my to-do list for later, or reading something on my phone — is a big deal. Truly listening to someone and receiving what’s alive within them at the moment does a lot to connect me to them. I end up having a much more meaningful conversation and I feel we both walk away fulfilled with the interaction.

2. Anxiety is not a bad thing.

Check it out. According to Merriam-Webster, anxiety is simply defined as

: fear or nervousness of what might happen

: a feeling of wanting to do something very much

After realizing the excitement and happiness I felt this morning about our trip was also anxiety, I was a bit confused. M encouraged me to look up the definition, and so I found what’s above. Huh. Though I’ve been told almost all my life that anxiety and fear are bad things (to be avoided or gotten rid of as quickly as possible), I’d never actually looked up what they meant. And it’s not bad at all. “A feeling of wanting to do something very much”? Hell, that’s how I felt about becoming a yoga teacher, and it brought me to a little town in Central Illinois for a year of intensive study and discovery! And fear? Though unpleasant, I’ve learned over the last few years that when I give fear space and look it in the eye, it’s a valuable tool for me to learn from. As I learn to choose what my relationships with fear and anxiety are, I can more skillfully use them to become who I want to be.

Lastly, here’s a picture from a walk I took through Washington Square Park, NYC in 2012 (damn, time flies!):


The man in the cowboy hat was working on a mandala, and I’d stopped to admire his work. I appreciated the detail and care he put into his work, one grain at a time, knowing it would be swept away after it was complete. I’m beginning to see life this way. I work to create something of my own, one grain at a time with my actions and words, which show who I choose to be. And one day this beautiful work will be complete, and I will be gone. So today I’ll put on my cowboy hat and let fall a few grains of sand. Can’t wait to see what I make 🙂