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Posts Tagged ‘Dialogue’

Anxiety and connection

We live in a world where it is increasingly difficult to feel connected, connected to other people, to nature, to our work, to our reality, to ourselves even. And we feel increasingly anxious. Anxiety before a big date or a final exam is one thing, but chronic anxiety is often a symptom of a prevalent, serious and persistent health problem. It can affect our behaviour, thoughts, feelings and even our physical sensations, and it often works as a feedback loop further amplifying the anxiety and therefore the disconnection we feel. It is estimated that up to 10-20 per cent of people experience some kind of anxiety disorder. I have had my own personal experience with an extreme social anxiety, and at its worst I felt utterly disconnected from other people. They went together I found, anxiety and isolation.

The human being is essentially a social animal, we belong to families, groups, communities, and this means we need to communicate to belong. Communication is not about grunts of approval or dislike, or posting a Facebook comment, it involves a complex understanding of metaphor, symbology, and meaning on many levels. When we interact, we communicate more than just the words we speak. Anxiety can arise when communication is not helping us feel more connected.

Asking the following questions can be the catalyst for resolution if our anxiety is due to a communication disconnect. And have heart, there are definitely solutions for anxiety, and for improving communication.

Anxiety and disconnection.jpg

Questions about communication and connection

When you spend time with someone, do you feel lonely?

When you are with another person, do you feel more energetic or less?

Do you sense the other person finds you boring and would rather be somewhere else?

Do you feel like your attention goes past the person rather than to the person you are speaking with?

***

When communicating, do you ask questions? When you ask questions, does the other person respect your questions and answer them without judgment?

Are you truly interested in the person you are communicating with?

Do you have enthusiasm in the topics you are discussing?

Are you comfortable showing your enthusiasm and your interest in the other person?

***

Can you listen to what they have to say for a long period of time?

Do you interrupt with assumptions instead of hearing the other person speak?

Do you cut the flow of communication by interrupting or proceeding to talk about yourself?

Does the flow of communication stop with uncomfortable silences?

Do you have a desire to talk about yourself but then don’t see the same desire in others?

***

Does your childhood story affect your present moment?

Could the person in front of you be replaced by anyone else without you noticing?

Are you just repeating facts you have heard?

Are you saying meaningless things just to say something?

***

Do you feel the other person is your equal and that you can be yourself with them?

Do you feel there is a special, distinct interaction between you and the other?

Are you trying to create a special relationship, even though temporary, between you and the other?

Are you finding meaningful interactions regularly each and every day, in all places?

Do you crave such meaningful interactions?

Are you being honest, sharing real stories about yourself with the other person?

Can you tell them your own opinions, feelings, reflections honestly?

Could you say that you want to be communicating with the person in front of you?

***

Are you trusting that a community can heal and help you?

Are you willing to be part of that community?

Some of these questions are difficult to ask, and certainly taking the time to reflect on our experience relating to the questions is a valuable exercise. Try to embrace the discomfort, it is where the magic happens!

Solutions for anxiety and communication

So what can be done. There are many articles on the reasons for increasing anxiety suggesting cell phones, changing times, less social interaction, more xenophobia, more judgment and bias, even the law of attraction can be considered as a reason. However, I think the fundamental reason lies in how healthy we are and what tools we have when it comes to communication. So trying to be more tolerant, wanting to attract positivity to ourselves, are all actions that, without a fundamental depth or capacity, are no different than weight lifting in our mind and hoping our muscles get bigger.

I would suggest investing in your health as a holistic experience, looking at all sides of who and what you are. Health can be breathing deeper, it can be eating less chocolate, it can be taking an extra moment before speaking, it is our challenge to learn what is healthier and what is not. And to know that we may well see a healthy choice before us but can’t for the life of us make it so. That is when you may need to engage outside help. Make the investment, it is worth it.

Intuitively I believe we know what can make us healthy again. Seek out practitioners who follow the understanding of individualized medicine and who trust in the person’s own ability to heal. Anxiety improves when our health improves. I gleaned this quote from the book Medicine of the Gnostic by Abdul-Wali, Salik ages ago,

“When the lion is sick, he eats of a certain shrub and cures himself. He does this because the illness has an affinity for a certain plant, for the essence of it. The cure is always known to the disease. Release this knowledge and you will know more than the doctor who can only recall facts and memories which seem to apply. There is a difference between hopeful assumptions and positive knowledge. And every case of sickness is slightly different.”

As for tools, learning to communicate is a skill just as math or the culinary arts is. It is best not to leave it to chance, or to your tribe’s capacities or lack thereof. Study up on Non-Violent Communication, and on David Bohm’s Dialogue methods. These two tools are going to bring a more holistic dimension to your connection by communication. Ted Talks is an amazing resource for how to connect to others and challenging our beliefs to stretch our comfort bubble. Practice and cultivate your inner seeds and watch your garden of connection grow.

dialogue and non-violent communication

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How does holistic treatment support healthy living? Why try homeopathy? Having a life long study in the principles of nature and healthy living, Lauren Trimble DHom, Nd is happy to share her knowledge and experience. The art of retuning the body’s natural healing capacity & developing consciousness in a compassionate and gentle way is the gift that homeopathy brings to her current holistic practice. If you enjoyed this article find out more at Birdsong.

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I often have an admiration for a man of ideas. This Valentine’s Day I thought I would share one of my current sweet hearts. David Bohm was an American theoretical physicist whose work contributed innovative and unorthodox ideas to quantum theory, the philosophy of mind, and neuropsychology. As a scientist, he warned of the dangers of unchecked reason and technology and advocated the need for genuine supportive dialogue which he claimed could broaden and unify the conflicting and troublesome divisions in our social world. His main concern was with understanding the nature of reality in general and of consciousness in particular as a coherent whole which is never static or complete but is an unending process of movement and unfoldment. He is best known for his book Wholeness and The Implicate Order and his work with J. Krishnamurti developing a method of communication called Dialogue. These Krishnamurti–Bohm Dialogues took place over a span of almost 25 years and can be found on YouTube.

Hearts illustration

Consciousness and Coherency

A few months after J. Krishnamurti’s passing in early 1986, friends of David Bohm asked him to host a weekend seminar. These series of annual seminars lasted until 1992 when Bohm himself passed. They are known as the Bohm Consciousness Seminars and cover his ideas on Thought and the nature of Consciousness. I write a lot about the environment and recognizing what a treasure it is. Lately, the ideas I have come across keep telling me the same thing, that saving the planet from our behaviour is not an external exercise but an understanding of what is going on internally. The seminars put this into a unique and critical light based on Bohm’s insights as a physicist. According to Bohm it is, “Practically impossible to find a place on Earth that is not changed by thought.” And this gem, “The best way to save nature is to solve our problems.” Almost everyone in the West can admit they can’t actually stop thinking throughout the day, and that waking up in the middle of the night unable to sleep but instead preoccupied by thoughts is a common occurrence.

Bohm quote

The word coherency comes from the mid 16th century and meant ‘sticking together,’ from the Latin verb cohaerere. It is to be able to speak clearly and logically and means united as or forming a whole. Incoherent thought is what we are experiencing most of the time. We can’t see the incoherence of the thoughts in ourselves nor the unintended actions they bring us to.

If you are incoherent one thing is that you do not produce the intended results. That is one sign of incoherence. Another is that you are contradicting yourself, or a third is you are deceiving yourself. That sort of thought, what is the point of that thought, we would be better off without it. If you say you see nobody intends to destroy planet. Nobody intended that, they merely intended to get rich. Comfortable, rich what ever it was. Now I am not blaming anyone, I am saying all of us were in it. We did not see that this was dangerous, this was incoherent. If our intention was to destroy the planet, we would have been coherent.

Given the current rate of destruction and change compared to 1992 when Bohm left us, we are in a serious state of incoherence about the environment, a run away train of thought-action. It is what he would have called a sustained incoherence.

Bohm quote

Dialoguing to communicate

He also discusses sensitivity, a great word to bring up for Valentine’s Day. In sharing thoughts with others, we often use force. This is a subtle form of violence most of us lack the sensitivity to observe. To convince means to win. To persuade is to cause (someone) to do something through reasoning or argument. It is also based on the words suave and sweet and means to win by sweet talk. “It wasn’t easy, but I persuaded him to do the right thing.” According to Bohm, thought which does not understand what it is doing tends to fall into violence. He proposes we consider the idea that the ultimate violence and the cause of all the violence in the world is based on the destruction of our sensitivity. This is very contrary to the spirit of Dialogue as outlined by Bohm.

Dialogue, as we are choosing to use the word, is a way of exploring the roots of the many crises that face humanity today. It enables inquiry into, and understanding of, the sorts of processes that fragment and interfere with real communication between individuals, nations and even different parts of the same organization.

In Dialogue, a group of people can explore the individual and collective presuppositions, ideas, beliefs, and feelings that subtly control their interactions. It provides an opportunity to participate in a process that displays communication successes and failures. It can reveal the often puzzling patterns of incoherence that lead the group to avoid certain issues or, on the other hand, to insist, against all reason, on standing and defending opinions about particular issues.

Dialogue is a way of observing, collectively, how hidden values and intentions can control our behavior, and how unnoticed cultural differences can clash without our realizing what is occurring. It can therefore be seen as an arena in which collective learning takes place and out of which a sense of increased harmony, fellowship and creativity can arise.

Because the nature of Dialogue is exploratory, its meaning and its methods continue to unfold. No firm rules can be laid down for conducting a Dialogue because its essence is learning – not as the result of consuming a body of information or doctrine imparted by an authority, nor as a means of examining or criticizing a particular theory or programme, but rather as part of an unfolding process of creative participation between peers.

To be able to Dialogue means we need to retain and even enhance our sensitivity, we are exploring with sensitivity. “Whenever you use force to meet a problem arising in thought then you you have not really solved it, you have left more problems, although the force may seem to succeed.” Violence and fear are connected. “If you don’t have the power to exert force, then you will feel fear. If you feel frustrated and would like to use force but you are afraid to use force you will then feel fear, you may project into the other person your own violence and be afraid of it.” Thought creates fear. Most of us are living in a fragmented culture thriving on violence, inflicted with fear and lacking a shared meaning.

…it is proposed that a form of free dialogue may well be one of the most effective ways of investigating the crisis which faces society, and indeed the whole of human nature and consciousness today. Moreover, it may turn out that such a form of free exchange of ideas and information is of fundamental relevance for transforming culture and freeing it of destructive misinformation, so that creativity can be liberated.

Saving the world that existed before human thought

Bohm was trying to resolve issues in the late 80’s that are now major crisis we all face and even then he was not overly hopeful of success since we are no longer hunter and gatherer groups of 40 or so people living together. The real challenge is how to create coherency among billions of people living varied lives and each with a unique view and purpose. He also saw that Dialogue requires a thorough understanding of and insight into Thought and the Thinking Process in order for it to be properly implemented. We all have to work on how to do it in order to benefit from Dialogue. Rather than learning Calculus, school children could be drilled on how to Dialogue, the way one used to learn Latin, a subject has to be practical to modern day.

To sum it up, if we want to save the world that existed before human thought, the best approach is to look at those thoughts and what they do. Have a listen.

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