Circle back

It came to me, landing on the soft spot, to stop 
Getting in my own way. It is the place that I stand when 
My feet are sore, to return here: 
'No one can do more harm, neither a thief or a hater, 
More than your own untrained mind.' 
To meet this moment fresh, this invitation to 
Circle back to the idea that 'no one can do more benefit, 
More good, neither a friend, nor a lover, your parents, than your 
Well-trained and well-directed mind,' 
Opening up your wildness and your immensity.

Inspired by Padraig O Tuama in a conversation with Krista Tippett, On Being and a talk given by Oren Jay Sofer to the Seattle Insight Meditation Society in which Oren read from the Dhammapada.

Communicating mindfully – lead with presence

To the extent that I haven’t seen beyond my own conditioning, I continue my practice of mindful communication as a lifelong path of learning and transformation. Oren Jay Sofer

Oren Jay Sofer’s book say what you mean focuses on really important ideas about communicating mindfully.

I am struck by the simplicity of what he says for it is in this that he makes a powerful case for his approach.

He sets out, at once, to organise his ideas around three salient ideas – presence, intention and attention. It is carefully crafted and thoughtful and immediately arresting because he cares hugely about his subject matter.

This seems to me to be his life work. And what important work it is.

In part one, the first step, he embarks on an exploration of leading with presence.

These first principles are massively important. What I love about it is that he does not mess around with what he sees as important. He knows exactly what is.

It is all about self-awareness. ‘To say what we mean,’ he writes, ‘we must first know what we mean.’ He continues: ‘ To know what mean, we must listen inwardly and discern what is true for us.’

Simple, powerful stuff that requires practising regularly.

So to lead with presence, he says, is to show up. And we do this as ‘fully and completely as possible’. But, of course, it doesn’t just happen. We have to cultivate it carefully and thoughtfully.

This book is a must read for anyone who cares about communicating effectively. In the opening pages of the book Sofer writes:

I know I have more to learn, particularly around the blind spots of my own privilege. To the extent that I have managed to see beyond my own conditioning, the text and its ideas may support others … to liberate themselves from their own conditioning, and to step more fully into the interdependent dance of communication … To the extent that I haven’t seen beyond my own conditioning, I continue my practice of mindful communication as a lifelong path of learning and transformation.

And that what this is all about – learning to communicate mindfully is about learning and transformation. Wonderful stuff really.

Curiosity and care – a start

I am currently reading say what you mean by Oren Jay Sofer and, whilst there is so much to draw on, I have been captured by the idea of approaching a conversation with the mantra of curiosity and care.

Needless to say, this is not always my approach. I don’t intend to be careless. I do not set out to be careless. That is what I am not about as a person.

But whether or not I approach someone with real care all the time is something I am working on. Actively caring I think is the way to look at it. Thinking of their needs, thinking about what they hope to get out of the conversation is important to consider.

Of course, this raises an entire volume of thought on needs and Sofer is particularly brilliant at drawing out the key elements and understandings around the area of needs in his book.

Back to the curiosity part. I am feeling that we have to start with ourselves on this. Get curious about ourselves and what is happening in our inner landscape. This is key, it seems and has everything to do with being mindful in all the fullness of that word. It helps us to be curious about others and what is happening for them.

Which of course leads us to drilling down deeply about empathy and what this means.

Wow. A lot is happening and this is only the start.