A few weeks ago I took part in a four week intensive course called Awakening Dialogue with the Awakened Heart Sangha. It’s another of the modules of study required for the ‘Mahayanagana’ training. The Mahayanagana is a group of committed students, who have stepped forward to take a more active role in supporting the activities of Lama Shenpen and the sangha.
The course introduced us to Nonviolent Communication and how the NVC process links into the Discovering the Heart of Buddhism course and other training within the sangha.
The course involved working with a partner to explore the NVC process which is a tool for learning to listen to yourself and others and also for expressing yourself, with more openness, clarity and sensitivity.
It teaches us how to listen to the needs, values and qualities behind our feelings, conversations and conflicts with others. It helps us to get to the heart of issues, rather than reacting to them in our usual, old, habitual ways, which often cause more conflict.
For instance, hearing the needs and values being expressed behind a criticism, rather just reacting negatively to the face value of the criticism. What an amazingly powerful and transformative tool to have!
I found the course so valuable, and can see how the NVC tools for communication are so important for those of us on the Buddhist path, as well as for everyone, everywhere! I really enjoyed seeing the similarities between the NVC approach and what we’re taught in the DHB. It fits in so perfectly with our training, teaching us techniques for listening and responding both to ourselves and others.
The ‘NVC speak’ might seem clunky and unnatural at first, but the more you practice it, the more it can start to become the way you listen and respond to situations, without necessarily expressing it directly or overtly in NVC terms. It reminds me of this quote from Lama Shenpen about expanding the Chitta:
“As we align ourselves with our heart at the centre of our being and allow it to expand into the natural spaciousness of the mind, mental functions start to serve the heart, and the mandala of our being is brought into harmony”.
So we’re practicing with the NVC mental functions and discernment process, in order to increase our understanding and compassion for others, to ultimately ‘serve the heart’ and as Buddhists, align with our ‘Heart Wish’, our goal to Awaken for the benefit of beings.
I’d like to carry on with more NVC training at some point, which is encouraged within the sangha, perhaps when I’ve finished my MYG training and have more time and space for some additional study,