Compassion course: week 6

Wow, summer is flying by! This is the fifth installment of a weekly svadjaja (self study) series that I’m doing to reflect on the Non-Violent Communication course that I’m taking with NYCNVC. I’m jotting down how the course changes my day-to-day life, and take away from each week’s lesson. Check out last week’s post on anxiety!

As I get deeper into building my compassion “muscles”, I’m beginning to realize that the learning won’t be over after this one-year course is over. Rather, I’m just scratching the surface of exercising this new skill, and it will take practice (just like everything else, huh) to incorporate it into the natural rhythms of my life.

The past week really zipped by with moving out of our apartment, M getting a contract job, and moving our few possessions into storage. Lots of travel and beginning to say “see ya later” to friends. We’re officially nomads now!

Over the next two weeks, I am staying with good friends of mine, the owners of Living Yoga Center, the studio where I teach yoga. In addition to their warmth and generosity (they’ve even let me use a car for getting to work), I’ve felt a natural connection to their openness and their stories from their own life experiences. Jai!

This week’s practice was about noticing hidden judgements that we make towards ourselves or others. That means noticing those judgements that are disguised as feelings.

I noticed that as I become more aware of judging vs feeling, I am noticing judging in others more clearly. In fact, I’ve been judging others for judging! Is that progress?

That’s where I think of the yogic concept of non-attachment. Through the eyes of non-attachment, judgement is a comparison of my expectation with reality. When those don’t match up, AND when I’m attached to my expectations, that’s when I judge. So if I let go of my expectations, I’m much less likely to judge.

Aha! So while I’m not going to transcend judging anytime soon, I can recognize the expectation I had that caused the judgement and let it go. Then the judgement dissolves too.

That’s my samadhi (enlightened) moment this week. Till next time!

 

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Compassion Course: Weeks 1 & 2

I plan to do a weekly series on my thoughts and a-ha moments from my Non-Violent Communication course, published every Friday to kick off the weekend with some love for yourself and those around you. Jai!

I’m currently two weeks into a one-year online Non-Violent Communication (NVC) course with New York City-based Thom Bond, founder of NYCNVC. I chose to take this course to deepen my understanding of myself and how I interact with the world around me. I think it will be especially enlightening as I am traveling around the world, beginning in two months!

In this last month that I’m in Champaign, IL, I also meet once a week with other NVCers at Green Yoga Spa, a lovely house and spa run by longtime yogi Mary Wolters. In the last two weeks, we focused on needs and judgements. The main idea is: everything we do, we do to fulfill a need. This is an eye opening concept to me, something I’m pondering as we delve deeper into the course. It’s a simple statement, but woooosh! It’s powerful. Pretty regularly, I meet people who do or say things that baffle me. People that have had vastly different life experiences than I, with different (and sometimes conflicting) perspectives and attitudes. Sometimes it’s hard for me to see where they’re coming from. That’s when the judging happens.

In our meetings, we identify feelings that we feel as a reaction to a conversation or action with another. Then, we connect those with needs that we had associated with those feelings. That is pretty eye-opening in and of itself. Kind of like “oh, so that’s what my feelings are for. I didn’t know they could be so useful!” The second part is an even bigger whammy: doing the same process for the other person. What were they feeling, and what possible needs were they trying to meet?

When I think about the violence happening this week in the US between police and Black Americans, my first reaction is frustration and helplessness. Frustrated that the problem is so deeply embedded in our law enforcement system, and at the lack of awareness and acknowledgement by so many in this country. Helpless because I feel like I’m on the outside looking in. What can I do to change things? I can voice my support to my black friends, to the black community, that I stand with them. But real change comes when we unite and see each other. Real change comes when we see our very real and very different experiences growing up Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, rich, poor, gay, straight. How can we make this happen? How do we unite the law enforcement community with all of those they vowed to serve and protect?

Compassion is a word I come across all the time, but what does it really mean? I love this take on it: compassion is love in action. It applies to actions toward yourself and towards those around you. I think if we practice this by being compassionate towards our own feelings and needs and by recognizing and honoring the feelings and needs of someone that seems so different from ourselves, then we have a chance of truly uniting and enacting real and meaningful change.