Tonight, I was walking through the evening darkness, enjoying the rich smell of algae and earth and all things humid here in this Floridian summer, and yet feeling lonely. Wanting connection, I had called each of my best friends back "home" in California, to no avail. No one answered. Alas, I was alone with my aloneness, heart achy amidst the chorus of croaking frogs and cricket song.
And then I remembered this simple practice from Nonviolent Communication: noticing and naming my oh-so-frickin'-human need: in this case, connection.
Yet naming it was only the beginning. For those of us head-strong folk who love to attempt to think our way over life's boulders and across her raging rivers, it can be tempting to stop here. Problem solved, need named, mission complete.
Ah yes, but the body - our sweet body! Here is where the shift comes, when we embody our knowing. Thus, the most important part of the practice: savoring our needs. Not just naming, but feeling, appreciating, celebrating them in a felt way.
I spend the remainder of my stroll home chanting aloud (keeping the crickets good company), "I love connection." "Connection is so meaningful to me." "I adore connection."
Feeling this love in my breath. Savoring it in my belly. Letting my love of connection fill my feet, awakening the sense of connection with the earth. "Hello earth, here are my feet, loving you."
My breath deepened. Shoulders softened. Tension exhaled. With this, my savoring was embodied.
This is the secret - to not just name your need, but to savor it in a felt way. Aloud if you dare! To chant your love of your need, reclaiming it from the dustbin of shame, the cold and musty cellar of humiliation, asserting: "This gets to be here. My love and my longing get to be here. It is beautiful, and thus, so am I." And to breathe and to feel that love in every cell.
And then... turn it over. Sometimes, a particular strategy for a way to meet your need may spontaneously arise. You'll be moved to call a friend, talk to that neighbor, write that letter, etc. But sometimes... there will be nothing.
In these moments, step into the mystery.
"I love connection, and I step into the unknown."
"Connection is super meaningful to me, and I hand it over to the mystery."
"I adore connection, and I welcome however life presents it to me."
It is here, at the intersection of empowerment and surrender that we find peace. Naming what we love, claiming the dignity of our life force, and then handing it over to whatever God/Universe/Being larger than yourself that speaks to you.
This, my loves, is the practice I invite you to try on. Go slowly. Give yourself time to practice. Then, let me know what you discover.
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