This past year I have become increasingly present, including my awareness of how conditioned, how automatic, my reactions are to stimuli—all that which comes in through my senses and that which begins internally. Something inside me feels more horror than ever before in my life and I am aware of a piece of me that is totally ignorant to my autonomy. Pieces in me feel more excitement and happiness in my life, and I am conscious to how much there is to celebrate every single day. All of this is neither good or bad, it just is.
I am taking steps to be present to all my feelings and the needs to which they are sprouting from. I am practicing processes from many sources including Marshell Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life to assist me in expressing them. It’s a whole new world I’m creating for myself by reconstructing my language—literally mind blowing and world shifting.
Everyday I notice my language containing moralistic judgment—ridicule, blame, and evaluation—in moments when I am acting out of fear. Fear comes up inside of me at least 20 times per day and this language assists me in shutting down. I’m at the point where I am present to it and can choose not to act on those thoughts—choosing not to act out of fear. My actions are subtler than running away or physically crumbling. They are in the way I interact with others—the way I shift my responsibility, the way I control power. Now I am acknowledging my unmet needs from which the fear is emerging, and expressing it in a completely different way—a way that empowers myself to change my (inner and outer) environment so that I meet my own needs interdependently with others and their needs.
This connects to my training in permaculture. Particularly one of the three main ethics—people care—and one of the many principles—observe and interact. Ego-restoration coinciding with eco- and socio-restoration, ah hah! I think that’s pretty sweet. I also think you’re all pretty sweet. So, a part of my practice for this month is appreciating people in my life in a new way. I am going to appreciate you, one of ya every day, using a new (for me) process:
1) express the actions that have contributed to my well-being,
2) express the particular needs of mine that have been fulfilled, and
3) express the pleasureful feelings engendered by the fulfillment of those needs.
This (longer) process will help me develop my ability to connect my feelings to my needs and, perhaps, deepen my relationship with you. I will present it here on the Internet as a model for learning and for feedback, as well as practicing in person with my family and community. My purpose is to reframe my expression of feelings of fear so that I can create and move into a future of love, happiness, acceptance, celebration, and connectedness that I want to live in.
I invite you to partake in what ever way you choose. Here I go!
When I reflect on a posting, which referred to support for investigation into Jermaine Carby’s death via police shooting (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/jermaine-carby-s-family-wants-answers-in-traffic-stop-death-1.2784585), something in me feels nervous and reluctant, which comes from a need for harmony—a need to be physically safe. I don’t want to have to read or hear that activities like this occur. I don’t want them to occur, period, or live in a world where it’s considered typical. My mind’s first automatic response is to ignore, blame, and throw my rage. I let that play out in my head without self-judgment. I acknowledge that ignoring these issues will only contribute to the continuation, perhaps even the worsening, of the harm caused. I acknowledge that acting out of shame (i.e., I have privilege and therefore I should help), fear, guilt, anger will probably result in more twisted harm occurring (e.g., me blaming others as a form of tragic education) and not meet my needs. Then looking beneath those thoughts are feelings of fear for my safety. Even though I have everything that society says I should require in order to be safe (i.e., money, material possessions, community, family, status, etc.) there are still feelings of fear in me.
What’s that about? Again, looking beneath the feelings to my needs. I can choose to take action through different means to meet my needs. How do I meet my need for harmony and safety alongside the needs of others, especially those who are directly harmed? Even saying that out loud stirs feelings of being overwhelmed and discouraged—I’m amazed at my conditioning sometimes. I can take action by acknowledging my current situation, which helps me to feel relieved and meet my need for safety. Just being present to my underlying feelings and needs, as opposed to being in autopilot, helps me to feel stable and meet my need for autonomy. I can hug my Mum to help me feel comfort and loved. Now that I’ve met enough of my needs the feelings of fear are no longer what’s driving me—I am able to make decisions from a place of hope.
With hope, alongside my desire to have a world where people are cared for, and with the help of friends I found that there are people—the people directly affected by Jermaine’s death—who are taking actions that I perceive to be helping to meet their needs for mourning, community, respect, and trust. I can relieve my thoughts that “if I take this on in any way it becomes my burden alone” (it never was) and I can support through the mechanisms that they—the people taking action—have requested. Through interdependence I can assist others in meeting their needs just as through interdependence I have been helped to meet my needs.
Shabina, you shared the link that first informed me of Jermaine’s death in the region in which I live (Region of Peel), which was also the mechanism through which I could support. Thank you for the stimulus to dive into my fear and have the opportunity to meet my needs of safety and harmony from which it was sprouting. I now feel hopeful knowing that there are people who care for others enough to take action for reconciliation. I feel inspired to take part and learn and act. I feel happy that I can contribute from an (inner) place of hope and not anger or fear. Thank you for sharing and for all the energy you put into making our communities more peaceful. I appreciate it.
If others feel moved from a place of love, happiness, joy, hope, and wish to contribute to the reconciliation of Jermaine’s death here’s the link, which is a good place to start: http://www.youcaring.com/memorial-fundraiser/justice-for-jermaine-carby-murdered-by-peel-police/279449
More information on Nonviolent Communication: https://www.cnvc.org/
Time for some dancing to shake my body, whew. Thanks for reading and participating.
Jan 2nd, 2015
Today, after talking with my sister, Casey, about talking—more broadly in how we communicate—and sharing some details on a level that’s a bit deeper than the weather, I’ve had my need for connection met. Something in me feels a sense of relief knowing that I can connect with my sister like that and following that relief is a whole bunch of gratitude. Thanks, Case, for growing our ever-expanding relationship. ❤
Paul has founded the group Many Rivers Permaculture that is working to create a healthy, environmentally-protective, politically-engaged, food-loving, “I-wanna-grow-that-in-my-backyard” community. He is currently researching Edible Forest Gardens as a Master Student at the University of Guelph and collaborating with community groups to bring healthy food to everyone in the Guelph community.
Paul’s understory consists of being a board member and vo-livin-teer with Transition Guelph, a grass roots community organization working and playing towards a thriving resilient community. His character is built from experiences in organic farming, permaculture design, appropriate technology development, eco-camp counsellor, and many potlucks! Go ahead and ask him about it.