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 these can also be used in a destructive manner. Being raised within the cultures we live in we learn dysfunctional and inappropriate ways of relating, not only with others but also to ourselves.
We have been conditioned by a ceaseless array of dysfunctional systems which are covertly designed to hook us into a fear-based mentality and a mode of reaction. Modern global culture exists in a survival mode of fight or flight, with a mentality of react and defend. Healthy relating is to freely express our true feelings without fear, to speak from the heart, and to communicate openly and honestly. When we are psycho-spiritually integrated we are able to respond instead of react.
Conscious communication requires us to trust in ourselves, in our felt-sense truth, and in our ability to express this to others: To speak our truth, speak it with compassion and sensitivity and let the chips fall where they may. Reacting is a defence mechanism whereas responding is an expression of the heart. Response is a balanced, calm and stable communication where we speak directly of what we are feeling, and do so consciously and mindfully. Reacting uses language that disconnects and polarises, and does not serve harmony and unity. The language of response is unconditional, connected, centred, understanding and compassionate.
Trust has been broken over and over again and so it is that many of us have become super-defensive because of the pain of our experiences. We create a hard outer shell to defend the soft and vulnerable core of our Being. This shell keeps others out yet also locks our true loving nature away. Fundamentally we are Love and even though this may sound like a cliche´ it is a baseline truth. We are LOVE. However, this natural and organic foundation of our very Being may feel lost to us. But it is not lost, only deeply buried under layers of conditioning that has taught us to survive at all costs. So many of us are positioned in fight-or-flight mode doing our best to survive in what presents to our psychology as a hostile environment, in which it can appear that everyone is looking out for themselves.
However, if we bring ourselves into the present moment we might ask ourselves this: “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 my heart, communicating from the foundation of the Love that I Am, that very same LOVE that is the very core of each one of us”
To make such a shift requires both courage and a deeper yearning to know and experience true peace at the deepest level of our Being. Can you dare to risk all for Love? What is there to lose? Only that which imprisons you. Self-love and a loving relationship with ourselves is a royal road to inner-peace. To embark upon such a inspired quest requires a radical re-evaluation and re-evolution of our relationships, a conscious encounter with our inner wounding, a clearing of our unhealed psychological stories, a de-conditioning from the ingrained survive modes of being that have marked and mostly blighted our lives.
You have the choice to live or to exist, to survive or to feel alive with the joy of living. But to reclaim this level of choice, right relationship is essential with ourselves, and this automatically brings us into right relationship with others and the world.
The Four Intentions as a Model for Conscious Communication
The First Intention Is to Speak from the Heart
This means speaking not from our heads, but from our hearts. It calls upon us to communicate as honestly as we can, in every moment. Today, we may experience countless thoughts, ideas and feelings, many of which may bring us joy and some which may make us feel uncomfortable.
Let us set an intent to express whatever we are with truthfully, to be mindful to do so from the heart. This can be done through words, movement, sound and/or in conscious, respectful and connected silence.
Let us trust our capacity to be present as individuals and within a group, and seek to find harmonious ways to express our thoughts and feelings and so cultivating harmonious experiences for ourselves and for others.
The Second Intention Is to Listen from the Heart
This means that we try to listen without judgment and to listen with an open mind, even if we do not resonate with what another is saying. We simply focus on remaining fully present to what is being shared, and to hear it completely and unconditionally.
If we feel the need to express a feeling or thought to the sharer, then we do so checking ourselves in terms of if we are remaining mindful of if we responding or reacting. If we are reacting then we are not speaking from the heart.
The Third Intention Is to Communicate Respectfully and Wait until the Other Has Finished Speaking
This intention requires that we wait until the other has finished speaking before we respond. We try not to interject or interrupt. We wait until the space invites feedback and when offering our own we try not to raise our voice above whoever else might be speaking in order to be heard ourselves.
Some voices may be quieter than others and can find it difficult to feel included, or include themselves, because of that. These voices are to be encouraged as they have equal validity and something valuable to share. Conscious communication is not the loudest voice rules!
Wait for the other to make their point and to express their thoughts or feelings and then check with them to see if they have finished.If they have then that is the time to mindfully share our own thoughts and feelings.
The Fourth Intention Is to 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 and data.
When speaking, keep in mind that there is another, are others, involved in the communication who may also wish to be heard. Speaking leanly fosters the practice of mindfulness in our communications: For example, respecting our own as well as another’s time boundary, and doing our best to acknowledge and honour this.
Let us also practice listening from the heart. Through attentive listening, we are able to share more deeply and richly, and communicate in a way that meets the needs of both or all involved. This approach both serves and honors our own need to be seen and heard and cultivates and radically improves our relationships with others.
The Practice of Authentic Communication—Within a Group
The following suggestions can support us to develop our skills in deep listening, self-expression, conflict resolution and decision making within a group context.
- Speak from the heart about issues that are important to us, to the group, and to the world.
- Listen from the heart with an open mind, and without judgment, even if we are not aligned with what others are saying. Always look for the place of connection within the context of what one is sharing it may not be about the ‘story’ being conveyed at all, but more of an energetic, felt-sense impression of the other that fosters a sense of connection to them.
- Speak leanly when expressing yourself and when communicating with others in the group. Be mindful of time boundaries. Develop trust, respect, cooperation and understanding by communicating authentically.
- Self-monitor—silently check in with yourself when an emotion is triggered and acknowledge that feeling as your own. Gently and quietly, breathe into the emotion, breathe through it, consciously releasing it through the out-breath. Quietly give thanks to whoever it was who triggered the emotion.
- Cultivate deep listening and unconditional positive regard for each person that speaks.
- Stay present—the greatest gift we can offer another is our presence. Hold the intent of wishing to be fully present to whoever is speaking, and to the group energy, while, at the same time, remaining present to your own felt-sense.
- Refine your capacity to be present to another (and yourself) without judgment. In all communications, the ultimate need of any individual is to feel seen, heard, acknowledged and validated. Strive to meet this need even if you do not resonate with what is being expressed.
- Remain mindful that the purpose of any communication is not to be right but to remain unconditionally present to the other.
In a group setting, try to sit in a circle so that all of its members can see each other and everyone is on the same level. This is a non-hierarchical formation and serves to remind us of the importance of each person present. Place something beautiful or meaningful in the center of the circle as this is the heart of the circle and where all meet.
If possible, adopt the use of a “talking stick” as a tool to help focus attention on each speaker in the circle when they are speaking. Holding such a stick signals to all present that it is the turn of the one holding it to speak uninterrupted and that the rest of the group are focusing their attention on the person who is speaking.
Conscious Use of Language
Words can heal or harm. Words can lead to peace or war. In the briefest of moments words can resolve or create conflict.
Most people use words without giving any thought to the potentiality of the negative impact or influence that their words may have on others or in the world. People have learned to relate to each other through unconscious, and, from a compassionate communication perspective, often a string of ‘violent’ (judgements/comparisons/shoulds/oughts etc) words.
Is it any wonder that the world is in the state it is when most of humanity has become disconnected from its very heart and soul?
Without a deep, loving and honouring connection with ourselves, humanity as a whole will continue to remain disconnected from itself and lost in a never-ending stream of inappropriate words expressed in an unconscious way.
The heart is the compass, and so remaining mindful (heartfelt)in every thought, word, action and deed is to fluently speak the language of the heart.
Inner peace and world peace are to be found through a gentle, loving heart that speaks the language of unconditional love, understanding, empathy, compassion and loving kindness. Mindfully (heartfelt) spoken words is but one small step - however, seven and a half billion small steps would be one giant leap for humankind.