Welcoming the inner creatures!
[Please note: The views and opinions expressed in each post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of BayNVC as a whole.]
At NVC retreats and workshops where participants are invited to read out a poem that somehow supports their living of NVC, I’ve always enjoyed it when this one shows up:
The Guest House
by Jelaluddin Rumi
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows …
I truly believe this poem has transformed my life and smoothed my way into living the life I want to live and giving the gifts I want to give. I certainly aim to welcome whatever comes and get the message from it. It occurred to me yesterday that I also want to be sure to welcome those aspects of my behavior that can all too easily be dismissed as less noble or pressing or important.
Yesterday was a Sunday, but I’d decided to spend a good portion of it working on personal admin and on writing an article for the BayNVC newsletter. But first, you know, I wanted to start the day at 8am listening in to live developments in the final two hours of the English Premier League football 2021-22 season. Then there was breakfast, followed by a couple of loads of laundry, a visit to the nearest grocery store to get some lunchables, a chat with my partner before she headed out to do her Sunday thing, then lunch, then… OK, finally time for some work!
Except I’d not slept so well, maybe, or perhaps I was just tired from a busy week… Either way, a short nap seemed wise. It was the weekend after all. And I’d be sure to wake up with inspiration for what I wanted to write about.
I woke up with a mind that seemed empty of inspiration.
Still, I knew that I wanted to walk the hour to my friend’s house for dinner later, rather than driving, which meant I’d probably be setting off in about three hours anyway. I was looking forward to that. She’s my empathy buddy from my first ever NVC course back in 2005. No doubt there would be food and chat and laughter and mutual support and tea.
So, I figured I might just as well watch some of post-match celebration videos from England, and then play a game of Carcassonne (a great boardgame, if you like that kind of thing) online against opponents around the world, then set off to my friend’s house. Work could wait…
I do the work I do, sharing NVC, in the hope that it will be as transformative for others as it’s been for me. I want us all to reclaim the time and energy we put into inefficient and ineffective communication, so we can use that energy instead to give our gifts to the world and each other. This mission is important to me, but yesterday I totally side-stepped a day that I’d intended to be a workday.
This could easily be judged as a failure, as procrastination, distraction, or lack of drive, but that’s not where my mind went. Instead, my mind went to Minka (RIP), a beloved cat with whom I got to live for 8 years until 2019.
I thought of how Minka would insist, every day, on checking off the tasks on her to-do list: food, play, nap, run about, play, playfight, nap, stare out of the window and “have a bit of fuss,” as we say in my family, i.e. an exchange of touch/petting with a human.
I thought of dogs I know, with their daily demonstration of the importance of play, touch, rest, movement and simply pausing to take in whatever is going on.
The cat or dog we live with continues to want those things no matter whether we’re going through a deadline or a break-up or a falling-in-love or a panic or a depression. Our bodies are like the cats and dogs and have the same wish for play, touch, rest, food, movement, and pausing, no matter what else we’re dealing with.
So, if we want to make it through the emotional stresses and strains of life and to succeed in all that life is asking of us, let’s welcome the patient and persistent creature within us that has its own daily, spontaneous, ever-fresh plan for vitality and aliveness!
Newt Bailey is the founder of the Communication Dojo workshops. His passion is sharing nonviolent communication, through workshops, videos, and other materials, in a way that is quick to integrate and put to use.
In his private practice, Newt brings his services as a trainer, coach, and mediator in corporate settings, with a focus on executive and “office hours” coaching. Newt also works privately with individuals and couples as a coach and mediator.