Every month, a group of us gather as part of a virtual study group to study compassion, with Non-Violent Communication teacher, Thom Bond. These calls are part of a year-long study program ‘Compassion Course Online‘, which is nearly free, and yet, priceless in terms of the life-skills I keep learning from the program.

Here’s a few notes from our call today:

Week 39: Agreements vs. Rules

  • Rules can either be life-serving (e.g. which side of the road are we driving on), which helps meets certain needs (in this case, safety), or can be life-alienating.
  • A good way to create social norms are through agreements. Agreements are changeable – and when needs change, agreements can change. This helps put a priority on connection, not the actual behavior, and opens up whole different way to relate to people. The good thing about an agreement is that if it isn’t working, it’s a sign that needs have changed for either party – and we can work together to transform the agreement. This openness creates a whole new way of cooperating and connecting with each other.

Week 40: The Art of Mourning

  • Mourning is different from depression, in that the feelings are alive, and can be used as guidance.
  • While mourning, one can connect to the fact that we would have liked something in our lives, and we don’t have it. It’s a conscious act (vs. being depressed). The act of conscious mourning gives us a place to go – pain gives us an idea of our needs.
  • Feelings can give us guidance – how can I make my life more wonderful? Take guidance, even if it doesn’t feel good. As Thom says – he would “rather be devastated than depressed.”

Week 41: Enemy images

  • This occurs while blaming or being the victim of someone else’s actions. This is mostly habitual and it comes easy (this doesn’t mean that it’s natural!).
  • It has become easy to blame our neighbors, political parties, corporations, nations. We have been raised in a culture in which blame is part of our culture. However, we are now at a cross-roads – it doesn’t work well as a connection tool
  • Instead, we can think of our thought patterns as being either life-serving or habitual.
  • Self Empathy – see our needs separately. Even though they remind us of our needs, they are not responsible for meeting them. Transform enemy image to one of understanding my needs – self-empowering – empathy liberation. Can see hundreds of ways of meeting my needs that don’t involve those people
  • However – if someone is coming with a knife – we will have to act with protective use of force – not to punish, but protect my own (and their) well being
    • We think that we are in these situations

Week 42: Power with vs. Power Over

  • Command and control – our needs become priority over others. Power with – everyone’s needs matter equally. In corps or hospitals – we haven’t developed a language to cooperate yet – but we can start today by starting within ourself. Take advantage of the life energy of other people – use them in consort or partnership with others. E.g. kid failing in class – trust that if his son were left to own needs – he can take care of it. “If you want to get good grades, I am here to help – if you don’t, it’s up to you – your decision”. His grades dropped further at first; tom kept persisting – and empathized with him, “it must be horrible to get a report card like that” – both started crying
  • We can choose to be in this setting, but with consciousness – ‘hit when the iron is cold’ – connect at that time. If they aren’t able to – they’re trying to meet their own needs

Week 43: Compassionate self-discipline

  • Self-punishment – change eating habits, lose weight, etc. Should/shouldn’t worked – but not well. Didn’t connect to needs. Self-empathize – get connected with myself – trust what was alive in me. Be aware of feelings and needs. Helps us understand what needs we have, and our strategies. E.g. milkshake – if I have once in a while – that is listening to my body’s wisdom

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