Sometimes I think we need more words in the English language that can convey what we really mean when we say "peace". Do we mean that we want peace in our hearts? We are trying to keep the peace? Or we are actively trying to build peace? They are all uniquely different things.
Finding inner peace is quite different to avoiding conflict, and different again to being a peace activist.
Many women (in particular) were raised to "keep the peace" and spend the rest of their (our?) lives trying to find themselves and wonder where the discontent comes from. Every human has similar desires and pushing them aside in an effort not to offend others, is simply NOT keeping the peace.
Passivism - the act, or quality, of being passive, is certainly not pacifism, which depicts actively working towards peace (as oppose to violence). Pacifism, to me, is a spiritual connection to peace - and deep, all encompassing commitment to the belief in the dignity and rights of people, the earth and creatures to live harmoniously, ethically and for the good of all. And sometimes being a pacifist disrupts the peace.
So next time you decide to keep the peace, ask yourself, what sort of peace are you keeping and for who? Is keeping another happy or conflict free, actually keeping the peace? What is stopping you from saying what really matters most to you? Is there a way to do that AND have a peace-full outcome?
I have to wonder, if we were to look at life in percentages, how much of the time would you say in your life is in clear view? How much is some what clouded or distracted?
It's hard for me to guess a percentage like that, but I am certain since NVC came into my life, more of my days and moments are experienced in a state of clarity rather than cloudiness. I think what it has opened to me is a mindfulness, an attentiveness to the moment and an acknowledgement of whatever is ALIVE in me right here and now that I used to ignore or sideline.
Sometimes we bumble through life with little attention being paid to each moment because there is so much to achieve, do, plan and 'worry' about. Learning to live consciously and compassionately for ourselves as much as other people is a trick and a gift and a spiritual practice that takes exactly that…practice.
For now, for today…perhaps start by simply asking yourself each morning "What is alive in me today?" and being so kindly attentive to whatever is there. From that point, you might build on it and as yourself that each time you notice a feeling (of any sort) present.
It is the BEST gift you can give yourself :). Love x
Never before has there been a greater need for more love, more connection and more humanity in the world. Our news feeds are filled with hurt, harm and trauma and increasingly, communities are responding out of their own fear in all sorts of ways. Social media is saturated with opinions (and the urgent need to express them).
It can be very overwhelming.
The fear that we feel is real and precious and worthy of being held and listened to. I know, for me, I feel a deep fear for my own children and the world that they will grow to experience. I deeply want them to be sheltered from the potential of other humans to do terrible, hurtful things. That fear comes out of deep love.
Firstly, I see that a commitment to nvc is a world view. It is an orientation to love and peace, over and above all things. And after that comes the practice and the hard work of what it means to become love in the world. And part of that practice is simply feeling the pain of pain. Being present to the fear and hearing what it is offering, as well as knowing the place that it comes from. When we can connect deeply with our fear, we are in tune with it and less reactive from it. This is part of connecting to love in the world.
This quote from Ghandi is one that I find to be very beautiful in terms of the power of love. However, in NVC, there is a recognition - as painfully hard as it can be - that once one is connected to one's own self (and all those emotions and needs that go with it), we can see humanity in the other (aka those "tyrants and murderers") and seek some understanding in what needs they are trying to meet. Because all people are always trying to meet a need, no matter what actions they are taking to meet it.
But regardless, love is what is invincible. Love cannot ever die out and there is always more love in the world than not. It will not save the lives of those who fall to terrible actions right now, but we all can have a part of increasing the love and human connection in the world…right in this moment.
I have just listened to a wonderful interview with Marie Miyashiro on NVC and the power - and necessity - of interdependence. At times I have seen NVC teeter on an individualistic track as we pay deep attention to ourselves, our needs and feelings and finding the grounding to go for that and ask for what we need.
The truth, and the depth, is that NVC is built around an understanding of who we are - together. For me it is also much bigger and broader than that, as my spirituality is grounded in who we are together also. Marie herself has come to a similar place of spirituality that our relationship with all things with a life force is the centrality of our existence. How we move deeper into that connection and relationship with all of life is our very purpose.
There is such deep spirituality, authenticity and groundedness in this belief, and this knowing. Being in relationship with life around us is everything. Our children are often taught through their education systems to go hard for what will make their future bright - education, money, drive, ambition etc. And while these things are also important and precious, they are not the whole picture. Can we have a bright future alone, Marie asks? Because even if you are on your own, you are still part of a community and surrounded by community. What we do and who we are impacts other people, at the very least.
I wonder if the work of NVC is really awakening people to what it is to be in relationship, and equipping people to be a "we".
For example, "what matters to you matters to me because it matters to you". That sounds like a joke but it is deeply real. I care about what you want because you care about it. That is part of being in relationship…and part of being human.
Who are you in your "we"s? In your family? Relationship? Friendships? Workplace? Church? Community group? What are the things that matter to you most about that "we"? What is your shared reality about who you are together, why you exist together and where you want to go together? That shared reality of your "we" is what holds you and nurtures you and keeps you going.
If you want to delve more into this click on the link above and follow Marie's amazing work. I will be!
At one of my ENCT (Embodying NVC Consciousness) trainings we sang a song of the heart. This song is by Libby Roderick and I want to share the amazing words with you:
How could anyone ever tell you you are anything less than beautiful?
How could anyone ever tell you you were any less than whole?
How could anyone fail to notice that your loving is a miracle?
how deeply you're connected to my soul.
I wish I could convey the music to you through this blog post also…many tears were shed at ENCT over the magic in this song. The longing to be unconditionally loved (or to unconditionally love ourselves) and the many tears for children who do not have a sense of this. Each child…no matter how challenging…deserves to believe that they are beautiful, whole, and that their loving is a miracle. Wouldn't the world be such a brighter, life-giving case if this were so?
I heard a very simple quote recently in a much larger context. It was a woman speaking of her experience of caring for her elderly mother with dementia. And she simply said "She has my permission [to be who she is]".
Such a simple thing and yet so difficult. How much do we actually give our loved ones permission to be who they are - and more so, celebrate that? Often, out of fear for ourselves or our own needs, we try to change them. Sometimes we want the best for them, sometimes we want the best for ourselves…but the result of wanting them to change is often the same.
I know I would like my eldest to be less expressive a lot of the time. I would like HIM to change so that I don't have to accommodate his strong opinions… but when I think deeply about that, his strength of character is something I deeply admire about him also. It's something I know will get him through life.
In doing the deep work, in finding understanding about what challenges me in those moments [when I think I want HIM to change] I realise, I don't want him to be anything other than what he is.
He has my permission. (Not that he needs it :)).
Is there anyone in your life you would like to release from expectations to be different?
Being human and ordinary, we will often fail
to love the whole, the dark, and the difficult parts.
We will always try to avoid something.
We will tremble. We will be blind.
We will be uncertain. We will continue to hurt
one another and miss the essential.
We will always need mercy and compassion.
— Gunilla Norris
I adore this quote. As a mother, I have had my fair dose of what is coined "mother guilt" - and indeed I could extend this to many other relationships and roles in my life also. People, and especially women, are very good at setting extraordinary expectations and feeling "less-than" when we fail to meet them.
Sometimes as parents we can easily lay this on our children also. I often wonder whether I am expecting too much of my 3 year old son - and continue to ask "is this a reasonable expectation?" for his age and stage and developmental capacity. Sometimes I find I tremble and avoid his most deepest and dark parts. It is instinctual for me that I want to turn and run in the face of such intensity - and yet, quotes such as this one remind me to be gentle - both on my son and on myself. Gentle on him, because I don't want to "miss the essential" in him. Because I don't want to avoid him when he needs embracing arms and I don't want to tremble when he needs security and strength.
And gentle on myself - well, because I too, even (and especially) in the mother role, am human. And my children will know me as human - one who has fears and insecurities and who ultimately, in her complete love and devotion to them, is one who also needs mercy and compassion.
I read a beautiful reminder recently from The Attached Family that set me back in motion after moving a little off base with Mr 4 pushing some particular buttons of mine :).
You see, he can argue ANYTHING. He is a brilliant problem solver and his persistence knows no bounds. Whilst I am sure these are fabulous qualities that will serve him well one day, right now, much of the time, I just wish he'd do what I ask!! Fortunately I read this article and was pleased to take the reminder that it is a gift that my young ones have the space, the gift, the freedom, the self confidence to say NO. Of course, sometimes, things are not for negotiation. But, I am pleased they say no to me now, because as the article says, I want them to be able to say no when they need to make tough decisions relating to peer pressure, bullying, relationships, employment....all of the above and more for the rest of their lives.
The nature of perspective change really is something to ponder.
It is easy to go about the days in a manner of "getting through them" or "space filling". Some days the trials of sleep deprivation and constant demands of children can send us into momentary depression or in fact all sorts of mechanisms that our brains use to take space from the situation in order to survive.
A week ago a friend of ours was in a horrible accident that has rendered him in a coma with a serious brain injury. As a friend, this is a tragic and saddening thing to watch and go through. As a wife and a parent, it has an added depth, as our friend has a wife and an 11mth old son.
I can't help but ponder the perspective shift, this accident has brought to so many. The daily things, the toddler demands, the sleep deprivation - suddenly these are trials that are quite small and something to be valued. All of a sudden, I am grateful for my whingy 16 mth old (who has an ear infection) because I am here to comfort him. I am grateful for my challenging 3.5 year old because I am here to guide him. I am grateful for the mounting washing because it means we have been wearing our clothes and I am even grateful for the yapping 11yo Maltese - because she and I have journeyed a long time together. What a rich gift it is to be in relationship with others. I have given my partner extra hugs lately and care a little less about the clothes on the floor and the milk left on the counter -
what matters is that we have each other and anything else -we can work it out. We have life and it is to be treasured as the precious gift it is. Let's not wish it away but use it to its full potential.