Where do you feel it in your body?

Power-Of-FocusingLast Monday morning, I woke up after a restless night feeling rather anxious. I could feel almost a flat board through my middle. It was a very strong sensation. I knew I needed to get up soon and start getting ready for work so I didn’t have a lot of time to unpack it and work out what was going on. I decided to try Focusing (“a body-oriented process of self-awareness and emotional healing”), so I focused on the sensation and just said “hello” to it. To my surprise, it eased almost instantly. It didn’t completely go away but it eased to a more bearable level.

A couple of days later, I was late picking up my daughter from her first gymnastics class. She told me that she was really frightened and just about to cry when I arrived. She had heard a beeping sound and thought it was an emergency siren and that something had happened to me (a couple of weeks earlier, she had witnessed a man die after he dove off a rock into a pool and then all the emergency vehicles and CPR etc. so there is probably some residual trauma from that experience). Continue reading

Hearing is healing

Copyright: mnsanthoshkumar / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: mnsanthoshkumar / 123RF Stock Photo

I’m realising more and more just how powerful listening is. Last night, I was doing reflective listening with my son, i.e. I was repeating back in my own words what I understood he was saying with a particular focus on his feelings and needs. It was satisfying to do because it helped me to be present with him and not go off into my own thoughts. Some time into the conversation, there was a lull and he suddenly said “I love you so much. I’m just feeling so full of love at the moment. It’s strange but lately I’ve been feeling this kind of overflowing love feeling a lot”. I think it’s because he felt so heard and because I was so present with him. My pattern is to be very busy and distracted and wanting to do my own thing and I think I haven’t been present enough with him over the years (particularly when he was little). This year, I’m really focused on trying to be present with him and I’ve noticed lately how he frequently expresses this “overflowing with love” feeling to me.

I watched a very powerful documentary this week on how listening can help people to heal from major conflict and trauma and how it can facilitate truth and reconciliation processes. This 55-minute documentary (below), Raamro Aakha Ma (In the Eyes of the Good), shows parts of a 7-day workshop “Healing and Reconciliation through Nonviolent Communication” that was held in Nepal in December 2014. The workshop was held to help people heal their trauma from the 10-year civil war in Nepal and to facilitate peace and reconciliation between victims and former combatants.
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What do you think about when you listen?


I’ve been trying to do more reflective listening recently. When I first heard about it, it sounded like you just repeat back to the other person what they have said.

Friend: I’m ashamed to tell her the truth.
You:  You’re ashamed to tell her the truth …

But since I’ve been exploring empathy, I now understand that it’s about really trying to deeply understand the other person’s thoughts and feelings without judgement or analysis and reflect back to them what you are hearing that is almost beneath their words. I tried this out with my son on the weekend when he’d had a fight with his friend. Continue reading

When do we really listen?


Today, my son broke his arm for the 3rd time (skateboarding). I had just heard the news from my husband (phoning from the hospital) when someone came to talk to me. After she told me what she had come to say, I told her my son had just broken his arm. She sympathised briefly then launched into a long story about when her son had broken his arm many years ago. She again briefly expressed sympathy and walked away.

This is a very typical way we “listen” to others. What we’ve told the person triggers their memories of when something similar happened to them. We don’t intend to “one-up” (e.g. that’s nothing, you should hear what happened to me!), but it’s habitual to go into our own experiences rather than staying present with the person who has shared something with us. Continue reading

My journey

10-most-inspiring-quotes-7-728Compassionate Communication (also known as Nonviolent Communication or NVC for short) has profoundly changed my life or rather the way I experience my life – the quality of my relationships in my family, at work and in my community. This way of communicating has also given me hope, hope for a more peaceful future and easier solutions to the challenges we face in the world today.

My journey into NVC really began with my son. From an early age, he was fiercely independent and what I then labelled as extremely bossy. People told me his bossiness showed future leadership tendencies but living with him felt like living with a little dictator. At five, he told me “mummy, when I grow up, I’m going to be the government and I’m going to ban people from cutting down trees”. We live in an Ecovillage and my son often contemplates world problems like poverty and deforestation and comes up with ideas to solve them. So on one hand I felt greatly encouraged that this future leader was wanting to solve pressing world problems. On the other hand, he seemed to think and function as though he was the centre of the universe and everyone had to do as he wished. We parented him as best we could but used quite a bit of coercion and threat to get him to conform to the daily routines of bedtime and school life.

As our younger daughter (a more compliant people-pleaser) grew out of babyhood and into being the younger sister and playmate, I painfully witnessed the results of our parenting being mirrored in how our son was communicating with his sister. I realised that if he really was going to grow up and be the government and help to solve the world’s problems, I would rather try to foster a democratic leader than a dictator and therefore, I needed to change my communication style so I booked myself into a foundation training weekend in Nonviolent Communication (NVC) at the Relaxation Centre in Brisbane with NVC trainer Cate Crombie (metacommunicate.com). Continue reading