Wake Up Now
Welcome to my blog. It is with equal measures of excitement and trepidation that I am joining countless others who make blogging a regular practice. My sense of blogging is that it is somewhat like a public journal entry. And so I look forward to sharing some of the more interesting things that are on my radar. Here goes: Last night I woke up at 4am, a fairly regular event these days. Rather than toss and turn and attempt to identify the cause of interruption to my sleep, I picked up the book on my bedside table titled Wake Up Now by Stephan Bodian.
Perfectly appropriate given the situation! I opened the book to page 146 and read HOW (AND WHY )THE EGO OBSCURES THE TRUTH. I highlighted this sentence: Committted to seeing itself as a separate someone with a particular life story - with all the suffering and exhilaration, success and failure, this story brings - the ego is terrified of being annihilated. Having experienced the loss of two significant people in my life in the last five months, I have found myself giving a great deal of thought to my life choices and my mortality. There is a strange thing that happened for me while grieving these losses. It's as if I could feel something squirming within my psyche as I explored very deeply. Certainly it's not the first time I've gone through a loss ... I lost my mother 32 years ago at the age of 21 and that was very significant ... and I've dedicated most of my adult life to my spiritual development while carrying on in the day to day. Still for whatever reason, these last 2 losses have stimulated some very deep inquiry. Who is this "I" with all the various needs seeking fulfillment? And to what eventual end? These questions somehow elicited an inner rebellion of some aspect of myself that had been motoring along quite happily until now. Is anyone wondering how this relates to my work in Nonviolent Communication? It's a valid question. I see it this way: In NVC when we stress the importance of making reference to our needs. The thing is, it's pretty easy to skim the surface of our needs and to move quickly towards a solution with a request. For example I might say to my teen, When I see your dishes on the counter, I feel irritated because it doesn't meet my need for respect. Would you be willing to clean it up withing the next 15 minutes? The words my need for respect really jump out for me. It would be the rare teen, or person of any age for that matter, who would find the words inspiring and connecting. It's possible that the dishes would be taken care of but what kind of energy would be brought to the task? And how does this tie in to the book exerpt I highlighted at 4am? Specifically, the ego is terrified of being annihilated is what I want to draw attention to. In this situation, respect is pretty vague. Of course, we all need to be respected, but it's very easy to use the word as a special pass to get others to do what we want. So maybe the job is done but the connection is lost. There is an underlying feeling of separation that pervades. The ego scores again but we're not so aware of it as an "ego victory" because things seem to have worked out in our favour, things are relatively calm between us and plus the teen in now developing good habits that will benefit him in life. What would this exchange look like though without egoic attachment and with a shift from ME to WE? How do we reorient ourselves from the separate egoic ME to the connected collective WE in the dialogue and doing of our everyday lives? How might a person approach this same situation and come out with both a clean counter and an underlying feeling of connection and mutual appreciation supporting the exchange? I would think that the need for working cooperatively within the communal space would be a more relevant and easily understood need. Hey there ... I notice your dishes on the counter. How would you feel about cleaning them up so everyone feels good about how our shared space is attended to? Does that work for you? I attach no thoughts such as: the dishes shouldn't be there, my teen is lazy or uncooperative, he'll never grow up, I should have been more disciplined with my children when they were younger, if he doesn't do it I won't loan him the car, etc. No thoughts that create separation. Nothing more than a simple reaching out statement and a real desire to create a connection. If he balks, we can simply leave it at that for now and revisit later. That's for another post.
All to say that I highly recommend Bodian's book. It's for anyone who is interested in coming home to themselves. Not an easy task for sure but well worth the effort. Doing so will bring a significant deepening to anyone who values the NVC process and would like to increase both the breadth and depth to the consciousness that NVC requires.