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.


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



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。。










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!



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!





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!