From Religion to Contemporary Spirituality
I found I had less and less to say, until finally,
I became silent, and began to listen.
I discovered in The Silence, The Voice of God.
As human beings, the greatest gift we have at our disposal can also be the greatest weapon--words. We can heal ourselves, others, and the world with words, yet they can also be used in a destructive manner. Because of the pressure of living in the culture that we have been raised in we have mimicked and learned dysfunctional and entirely inappropriate ways of relating, not only with others but also with ourselves. Most of us are unaware that the ways in which we relate are entirely distorted and unnatural.
We have been conditioned from birth to buy into a fear-based mentality and react. Generally, most cultures of the world exist in survival mode, in a pattern of fight or flight, which is a react and defend mentality. A healthy way of relating is when we are free to express our true feelings without fear, when we speak from the heart and communicate honestly, are emotionally stable, and are able to respond instead of react.
Conscious communication requires that we trust in ourselves, in our truth, and in our ability to express this to others. Reacting is a defense mechanism and responding is an expression of the felt sense. To react is to attack and defend. Response is a balanced, calm, and stable communication speaking directly to the emotions, with feelings being expressed consciously and mindfully. Reacting uses language that disconnects, finger points, blames, and shames. The language of response is connected, centered, empathic, and compassionate.
Ask yourself, Do I have to remain in survival mode or can I dare to explore how it would feel to trust, to be open, transparent, and, most importantly, to risk sharing from the heart, communicating from the foundation of Love, which forms the core of each one of us?
To make this shift requires courage and a yearning to know and experience true peace at the deepest level of our Being. To embark upon such a noble quest will require a radical reevaluation of our relationships, a conscious encounter with our wounding, an exploration and clearing of our psychological history, and a period of deconditioning from the ingrained patterns of fear, defense, attack, and survival, which have accumulated throughout our lives. We are blessed to live in times when freedom is offered to most of us on a plate. It is ours for the choosing. Never before in modern history have so many of us been free to make life-serving choices.
THE FOUR INTENTIONS AS A MODEL FOR CONSCIOUS COMMUNICATION
The Four Intentions can support our quest to establish a new approach in our communications.
1. Speak from the Heart
This means speaking not from our heads but from our hearts. It means to communicate as honestly as we can in every moment.
Today we may each experience countless thoughts, ideas, or feelings, some that bring us joy and some that may make us feel uncomfortable or emotional. Let us set an intention to express these truthfully, being mindful to do so from the heart--be it with words, movement, sound, or in conscious, respectful, and connected silence.
Let us trust our capacity to be present as individuals or in a group and seek to find harmonious ways to express our thoughts and feelings, fostering harmonious outcomes and resolutions.
2. Listen from the Heart
This means that we try to listen without judgment, to listen with an open mind, even if we disagree with what the person is saying. We simply try to take in what is being said and to hear it completely.
If we feel the need to express a feeling or thought we must remain mindful to whether we are reacting or responding. If we are reacting, we are not speaking from the heart.
3. Communicate Respectfully
Communicating respectfully means waiting until the other has finished speaking before we respond. We try not to interject or interrupt. We are mindful not to raise our voice above whoever is speaking in order to be heard ourselves.
Let us be mindful that some voices are quieter than others. Those with quiet voices may find it difficult to contribute. These voices are to be encouraged as they have equal validity and a right to be heard. Let us not cultivate a communication where the loudest voices rule!
The intent with respectful communication is to wait for the other to express his thoughts and feelings and then check with him to confirm he has finished, at which point we can express our desire to respond and to include our own thoughts and feelings.
4. Speak Leanly
Something that is lean has nothing extra or unnecessary attached to it. Speaking leanly means to keep to the point of what we are trying to say and to let go of any unnecessary details.
When we speak, we need to keep in mind that there is another, or others, involved in the communication who may also wish to share and be heard. Speaking leanly fosters the practice of mindfulness in our communications--for example, respecting our own, as well as another’s, time boundaries.
Speaking leanly invites us to avoid going off on tangents, instead sticking to the essence of what it is we wish to share. Remember, most people appreciate the opportunity to be heard, yet more often than not there is only a limited amount of time to do so.
Let us also practice listening from the heart. Through attentive listening, we foster deep sharing and communication that meets the needs of both (all) parties.
This approach beautifully honors our need to be seen and heard, gracefully serving the cultivation of harmony with others.