Educating the Heart & Hands
“What I want in my life is compassion, a flow between myself and others based on a mutual giving from the heart.”
― Marshall B. Rosenberg,
The world is our field of practice
with Angel Kyodo Williams
She’s one of our wisest voices on social evolution and the spiritual aspect of social healing. Angel Kyodo Williams is an esteemed Zen priest and the second black woman ever recognized as a teacher in the Japanese Zen lineage. To sink into conversation with her is to imagine and nourish a transformative potential of this moment towards human wholeness.
Listen to two great interviews with her below…
Educating the Heart
with HH the Dalai Lama
Non-violent Communication (NVC), or Compassionate Communication was developed by Marshall Rosenberg in the 1960’s as a tool for non-violent living.
Our words are incredibly powerful, and have the potential to both separate, and connect people. Getting conscious about the way we choose to use language can enable us to express ourselves more clearly, as well as hear others with new ears, creating greater opportunity for understanding.
Although there is perhaps a lifetime worth of learning about NVC, there are some basic steps that can be followed to begin practicing its foundational teachings on the language of compassion.
Before you attempt this process in a high conflict situation, you might first try this process with someone whom you feel easeful and comfortable. You might even adopt this process in your closest relationships in an ongoing way.
The first step is to look at the situation without any judgment. What is going on? Can you describe the situation in unbiased words?
The second step is to check-in, to feel what is going on inside yourself and to give space to everything you’re feeling and thinking. What do I feel? What are the thoughts running through my head right now? They are all okay! Don’t forget to breathe.
The third step is to look a little closer, with curious eyes. Wonder why you’re feeling and thinking everything you do. Where is this coming from, what do you need?
The fourth step is to look at the situation again. You can explore why it triggers you. It might be a voice in your head formed from previous experience or a reflexive response. You can do this exploration in the moment or after this moment has passed.
The fifth step is to respond. In this step, you can express the situation you have been observing, what you see, how that made you feel, and what you need. You can make a request. In this step, you can also ask what the other person needs and together you can work towards a solution.
De-centering & Mindfulness
There are several different understandings about de-centering; Some from various psychological perspectives, some specifically related to social/political practices used to facilitate conversations related to oppression and privilege, and some still that appear in various spiritual traditions. Here, I will share a bit of a hybrid.
De-centering can be thought of as a practice of becoming aware of our own tendencies toward selfishness and how these limit our ability to see another’s perspective. And further, to practice centering the person’s perspective, or seeing it through their eyes. In Buddhism it is called switching, exchanging oneself for another’s.
In buddhism, Vipassana or insight meditation is the practice used to increase awareness of self and therefore also others. Click here for a guided Vipassana meditation by Tara Brach.
Of course, self awareness, consideration of others and compassion are practices that are meant to be utilized in our day to day lives, so our big work is to translate this awareness into a real-time ability.
Consider adopting your own daily mindfulness practice. Choose a consistent time each day, ideally in the morning, where you can practice cultivating self-awareness and tuning towards your hearts intention of living mindfully, with loving-kindness and compassion. Choose a simple practice that fits you, such as the one linked above, or even just sitting silently following your breath for 5 minutes.
Additionally, you may choose to journal about your meditation practice afterward, just noticing and making visible to yourself how your are showing up in your day, without any self-judgement. Remember, practicing mindfulness is not about eliminating all negative thoughts or tendencies. Instead, you might think of it as a practice of noticing yourself as you are, giving you greater ability over time to notice the effect of those tendencies, perhaps even catch yourself before you act on them, allowing us to increasingly act from a mindful heart space.
Discovering Your Symbology
* Required in order to be prepared for week 4 painting
Symbols have been used to tell stories throughout human history. At this point in our collective evolution however, we do not share one set of symbols with universal meaning. Some symbols may have wider appeal, like stars, hearts, birds, faces and moons. While other symbols have become more personal, as we touch in to the deepest parts of our own hearts and discover the unique stories, energies, purpose and meaning within each of us.
As we develop relationships with and understand the symbols we are drawn to, we begin to learn our hearts' unique visual language with us. Soon shapes begin to take on new meaning and importance when they show up time and time again in your life, like markers on your spiritual path urging you forward
The purpose of this activity is to begin to cultivate your own symbol system... in particular, to begin to reveal the symbols wanting to support and participate in your creative inner journey. In your journal or sketchbook, begin doodling shapes that come to mind. Notice what shapes want to be repeated, played with and developed, allowing yourself to be responsive to your inner impulse without censorship. Don't know how to draw something? Google image it.
Fill 1-2 pages with symbols and simple doodles. Notice themes, like nature, cosmic, things that are red...
Contemplate what these symbols or themes mean to you. What stories do they tell you? What do they tell you about yourself? Your process? Your future?
* Begin by choose 3 colours light/medium/dark (colour palette is still not important)
* Using a hog hair brush on the larger size that fits the spaces you will be working in, and with a small amount of paint in a scratchy, circular motion bring light paint into light areas of the face first. (light areas a those which are furthest forward). Bring darks to furthest back areas. Fill in medium spaces, blending into darks and lights.
* Repeat dark/med/light until desired shading and shape structure are achieved (at this point complete at least two layers.... more if desired)