Tag Archives: nvc

Subtler than our desires

In a previous article I mentioned that I am exploring and practising a method of contemplation which helps me to understand and direct my emotions. The key to that method is becoming aware of the needs and/or desires which come before our emotions1.

There is something that is even more subtle than our needs and desires and in yoga psychology they are called samskaras: they are the mental impressions that we have stored in our mind and they are at the root of our personality (and by extension, our actions). Up to a week ago I wasn’t able to use this concept to gain understandings of my personality, but this changed when it suddenly ‘clicked’ after a recent training2.

The most straightforward way in which I can explain this insight is by example. I remember an incident from when I was still in primary school, where I was standing on a bulky book so that I could grab something from a shelf. My teacher told me not do that and when I asked her why I shouldn’t, she said that books should be treated with respect. That answer didn’t make any sense to me, so I asked her why books have to be treated with respect. She told me that when she was young, she was taught by several people that books should be treated with respect because they contain knowledge.

The ‘dialogue’ I had with my teacher started from her

  • demand: don’t stand on that book; which was the result of her
  • belief: books should3 be respected; which was the result of her
  • samskara: she was told in her youth that books should be respected.

That dialogue I had with her is a dialogue we can have with ourselves. When we use the method of contemplation we can become aware of our feelings when we question what motivates our thoughts, and we can become aware of our needs when we question what motivates our feelings. To become aware of our samskaras however, it appears to be easier to question our (subtle) demands instead of directly questioning our needs4. Our demands are the strategies to meet our needs which are very closely related to our beliefs, which are in turn very closely related to the past experiences that we have stored in the mind.

Once we have brought our samskaras to our conscious awareness we can process them and examine their usefulness to us. I imagine that this can significantly increase our self-understanding and ease our self-transformation, but as this insight is new to me I will need to make experiments myself to verify this.


1: Two recent examples of how I used that method on myself: 1, 2.
2: This was a training on leadership and coaching, for which my employer had hired FPnP).
3: We can recognise our demands and beliefs from our musts/mustn’ts and shoulds/shouldn’ts.
4: This is because we all share the same needs. It is unlikely that we will find anything specific to us when we analyse what we all share in common.

中文版本稍後提供。
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Understanding your personality 了解你的人格特質

Part 1 – This article
Part 2

In the last couple of days I have been confronted with a number of situations that have stirred up some powerful emotions in me. It is interesting that this is happening at a time that I have started to understand a practical and useful approach to dealing with emotions and have silently resolved within myself to practice that approach. Some words of wisdom of my father will help explain this apparent coincidence: He says

When you resolve to obtain a driver’s license, you will be faced with the driving test.”

The peculiar part is that approach that I have started to realise is mentioned in one way or the other in both of the materials that I am studying at the moment, namely Marshall Rosenberg‘s Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and a compilation of some of Swami Rama’s commentary on chapter 2 of the Yoga Sutras into a book called Sadhana: the Path to Enlightenment.

I would express my understanding of the ‘aim’ of the approach as a method that helps you to at the one hand gain an insight into a basic level of your being that lies beneath your emotions and on the other hand to gain the ability to direct your emotions, thoughts and actions when confronted with strong emotions. To quote from Swami Rama’s compiled commentary:

“Even though you may be a highly cultured and intelligent person, one emotion can come and make you behave irrationally. For instance, you may lose your temper and behave in a totally unexpected manner (…)

The level of desire is deeper and more powerful than the emotional level. If you study your desires it is easy to understand your life and the different aspects of your personality.”

The important insight that underlies the approach is that underneath the realm of actions lies the realm of thoughts; and underneath the realm of thoughts lies the realm of emotions (feelings). When we go even deeper than the realm of emotions, we encounter the realm of needs and desires. Swami Rama mentions another layer which lies even deeper than desires, which is the layer of subtle impressions (samskaras) in the memory bank of the mind; I have not yet recognised an experience from that layer for myself, so I will not discuss that layer here.

Now the approach itself is quite simple. Start from the layer that you are aware of at a certain moment, observe what you are experiencing at that level without judgements, and then try to look at or ask yourself what activity is present at the layer underneath the level where you just were. Then continue from that level. In essence, this is a practice of self-dialogue or contemplation.

I want to illustrate this method through an experience I had over a year ago. Once on a quiet Saturday morning I was walking home, coming back from doing groceries. I was waiting at the final traffic light before my house, where an elderly gentlemen and his wife were also waiting to cross the road. While we were waiting there an ambulance came racing by with its sirens on. There seemed to be a big emergency because the ambulance made a sudden right turn and crossed a sidewalk to end up in the street where it needed to be. The gentlemen standing next to me was suddenly getting angry and he started saying to his wife, “What kind of dangerous and reckless driving is this?! This should be made illegal!” and so on.

In the meantime I was getting very annoyed and angry myself, because I couldn’t really understand why the man would feel the need to complain about something that seemed so obvious to me. I soon became aware of how tense I had made my body. Experiencing that tension with curiosity, I quickly became aware of my thoughts. I was thinking things like “Oh my God! What an idiot! How can he be so dumb not to understand this?!” I was not judging these thoughts, I simply saw the thoughts passing through me. I then saw through them and realised they were thoughts coming from anger. My anger was leading me to mental complaints. When I stopped going with the anger and simply started feeling and observing it, I asked myself, “Wait a minute. Why am I getting angry? What am I trying to achieve?” I got one of the most shocking answers of my life. I answered myself with, “I want to feel better than that person. When I complain about him, I feel better about myself.”

After receiving that answer, the whole chain stopped by itself. No more feelings of anger, no more angry thoughts and no more tension in the body. Since that day I do not complain as much anymore, because I gained a simple insight into that part of myself from which those thoughts are coming and that there is another way to nurture that part.

Part 1 – 本文
Part 2

過去幾天裡,我碰上一些使我產生強烈情緒反應的狀況。有趣的是,就在我開始對於處理情緒的實際有效的方法有所理解,也在心裡暗自下定決心要好好練習這個方法的時候,這些狀況就出現了。我父親曾說過一段很富含智慧的話,可以用來解釋這樣的巧合,他說:

「當你下定決心要拿到駕駛執照時,你就會面臨駕照考試。」

有趣的是,在我目前所學習的Marshall Rosenberg的非暴力溝通課程以及一本集結拉瑪大師針對《瑜珈經》第二章的講解《修行:開悟之路》當中,都提到這個我開始有所認識的方法。。

我對這個方法的「目標」的理解是,它一方面幫助你深入觀察那隱藏在情緒之下的個人存在的基本層面,另一方面幫助你在面臨強烈情緒反應時,能夠導引自己的情緒、思考和行動。拉瑪大師在《修行:開悟之路》中說:

「即使你是一個非常有教養、非常聰明的人,有時候情緒一來,它能使你表現得毫無理性。例如,你可能大發脾氣,做出意料之外的行為…」

「慾望的層次要比情緒層次來得更深、更強大。如果你能夠深入探討自己的慾望,那麼你將更容易了解自己的人生和人格特質的不同層面。」

這個方法的重點在於,在行動之下,隱藏著思想;在思想之下,隱藏著情緒(感覺)。當我們更深入探討情緒時,我們會發現需求和渴望。拉瑪大師提到一個比慾望更深的層次,那就是心智的記憶儲存庫中,那些細微的印記(samskara)。我還沒有碰過來自那個層次的經驗,所以在這裡我就不討論它。

我所說的這個方法其實很簡單。從你在某一刻所覺知的層次開始,不帶論斷地觀察在那個層次所經歷的一切,然後試著觀看或問問自己,你之前所在的那個層次之下,有什麼樣的活動正進行著,接著再從這一層次繼續觀察。基本上,這是一個自我對話或沈思的練習。

讓我舉個例子來說明。有一個安靜的星期六早晨,我剛買完東西,走在回家的路上。在我家附近的路口,我等著紅綠燈,此時有一位老先生和他的妻子也一起等著。就在我們等待的時候,有一輛救護車警笛大響地急駛而過。我想狀況可能十分緊急,只見救護車突然往右轉,開上人行道去。這位站在我旁邊的老先生突然變得很生氣,對他的妻子說:「怎麼有人開車這麼危險,這麼不小心!這應該是違法的!

聽到這段話,我自己也感到很生氣,因為我不了解,這位老先生為什麼無法理解在我眼中很明顯的事情。我很快地意識到我的身體突然變得緊繃。我好奇地觀察這份緊繃感,很快地察覺到我的思緒。我正想著:「天啊!真是個笨蛋!怎麼能這麼笨,連這都不懂?」我並沒有針對這些思緒做任何評斷。我看著它們,了解到這些思緒是來自於憤怒。我的憤怒引發內心的抱怨。當我停止隨著憤怒起舞,轉而經歷、觀察這份情緒時,我問自己:「等等,我為什麼要生氣呢?我到底想做什麼呢?」此時我得到人生中最叫人震驚的答案之一。我回答自己道:「我想要感到比這個人優越。當我抱怨這個人的時候,我覺得自己比他優越。」

在獲得這個答案後,這整個事件停止了。我不再感到生氣,不再有憤怒的情緒,身體不再緊繃。從那天起,我不再那麼常抱怨,因為我觀察到內心情緒的起源,並了解到我可以運用另一種方式培養它。

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Developing ahimsa through NVC 非暴力溝通

Dear friends,

I have recenty had my first experience with Nonviolent Communication (NVC) as taught by Marshall Rosenberg and I can say that both Elly and I are very excited about it!

NVC was recommended to me by Wolfgang, who said that it would help me to develop a solid ‘ahimsic’ foundation in my communication with others. To be honest, when Wolfgang suggested NVC to me I immediately had a big doubt whether NVC can be something useful to me or not. This doubt came from an observation I have made about practically every communication training that I had (directly or indirectly) encountered up to that point, namely that their result is that people communicate inauthentically because they teach us communication techniques but don’t teach us about the consciousness from which the techniques originated.

Allow me to give a simple example of this. I have a friend in my who has learned to call problems “challenges” instead of “problems”. He has developed the habit of saying “Now the challenge is…”, “The big challenge here is…” and other sentences like that. He will also correct others when they say “I have encountered a problem” and give them as the reason for the correction that it is better to say that something is a challenge than to say that it is a problem.

The ironic thing is that the he still perceives the situations that he calls challenges as problems: for him, the word “challenge” has simply become a euphemism for “problem”. When he says “We have a challenge…”, his body and presence express “We have a problem!”. What is in a way tragic about this, is that the people around him feel agitation when he says “challenge”, because they feel at a subtle level that in that moment his expression is inauthentic.

On the other hand I have met people who can say “Oh, oh! We have a problem…” and nobody around that person feels disturbed by the prospect of having to face a problem. That is because these people have changed their attitude so much that they don’t experience a problem in themselves even when the situation is very challenging.

So my question to Wolfgang was, “Is NVC just a technique or does it help me to transform myself?”. His answer was “It is a technique that helps you transform yourself, because you can only practice it when you transform yourself.” As far as I’m concerned, Wolfgang was right!

So without further ado, I share with you a three hour video in which the founder of NVC is teaching the fundamentals of it. Elly and I did not watch video in one go because that does not seem to be an effective way of absorbing this material. The video is composed of 4 parts of about 45 minutes each and each part contains some exercises related to that part. Keep a pen and paper ready!

Enjoy.

親愛的朋友:

最近,我和Marshall Rosenberg所倡導的「非暴力溝通」(Nonviolent Communication)有了第一次接觸,我和Elly對此都感到非常開心!

一開始是沃夫岡向我推薦非暴力溝通的課程,他說這能夠幫助我在與他人的溝通方面,建立起「非暴力」(ahimsa)的堅固基石。老實說,當沃夫岡提議這個課程時,我心中抱持許多懷疑。這樣的懷疑是來自於我自己對於各種溝通訓練課程的直接或間接觀察,我發現這些課程教導人們溝通的技巧,卻未能教導這些技巧背後的意識和覺知。

請容我提出一個例子。我有一個朋友,他學到一個技巧,也就是稱呼所面臨的問題為「挑戰」,而且他漸漸養成一個習慣,他會說「現在的挑戰是…」、「眼前的挑戰是…」等類似的話,也會在他人表示「碰到問題」時提出指正,告訴他們,稱某件事為「挑戰」而非「問題」,是較好的作法。

諷刺的是,他依然視那些他所謂的挑戰為問題。對他來說,「挑戰」這個字只是代替「問題」的委婉說法。當他說「我們面臨一項挑戰…」的時候,他的身體語言卻訴說著:「我們面臨一個問題。」更不幸的是,他身邊的人對於他使用的「挑戰」一詞感到焦慮,因為在那當下,他們感覺這樣的表達用語並不真實。

另一方面,我也碰過一些人總是說著:「噢,我們碰到一個問題…」,但他們身邊卻沒有人因為碰上問題而受到干擾。這是因為這些人的態度有極大轉變,即使在面臨深具挑戰性的狀況,他們的內心卻未感受那是個問題。
所以我問沃夫岡:「非暴力溝通只是一項技巧,或者它能幫助我改變自己呢?」他回答道:「它是一項能夠幫助你改變自我的技巧,因為只有在你改變自我之後,你才會真正地運用它。」我想,沃夫岡說得沒錯!

廢話不多說,在此和大家分享一段長約3小時的影片,非暴力溝通的創始者Marshall Rosenberg會介紹非暴力溝通的基本重點。我和Elly 並沒有一次就把這段影片看完,因為一次看完似乎不是吸收課內容的最有效方法。這段影片分為四個段落,每段約45分鐘,而且提供與該段落內容相關的練習。我建議大家準備好紙筆,開始享受影片!

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