In this dharma talk, Jonathan Foust talks about what it’s like to be really free – that there are other states of consciousness other than being awake, sleeping (falling asleep and being aware of sense of where time and space get disoriented) and dreaming (having a dream and being aware that you’re dreaming it). Specifically, Jonathan digs into:
1. What is “Present Moment Self-Observation Without Judgment”?
2. How you can cultivate the optimal environment to develop the witness?
3. How to avoid the near-enemy of being the witness (states that look like they’re the witness but they’re not really).
4. What it means to be aware of the light behind the observer – awareness itself. Not just aware of your thoughts, but what it means to be fully awake. Awake to what’s happening and free (or aware of) reactivity.
Here’s an excerpt from the “30 Day Challenge” offered by “The Antiracist Table” about how the NVC (nonviolent communication) model works: Understanding the need starts with seeing what happened without judgment and criticism. In other words, sticking to the facts. From there, one has to identify what they feel. NVC’s four main components:
1. Observations – What happened? Stick to what is factual. Avoid the characterization and judgment we are prone to. Describe what happened as if you were an uninvolved observer.
2. Feelings – Label the feelings coming up. Use the feelings list to help increase your emotion vocabulary. Feelings fall into two categories, unmet and met. Remember, feelings are not good or bad, they are information that can help you understand the underlying need. Labeling feelings can also take away some of their power.
3. Needs – Get to the heart of the conflict–what matters most to you and the other person in the conflict. Remember, “everything we do, we do to meet a need.”
4. Requests – Ask for what you want using a request, not a demand. A demand prompts criticism, judgment, and defensiveness. A request shows empathy towards the other person’s needs.
As part of NVC you work through steps 1 – 3 for yourself and then you work through steps 2 and 3 for the person involved in the conflict. When someone shows you that they see/hear your needs it can be very powerful–it can disarm the angriest of people; it can soften the hardest mindset. Start using these skills in low stakes conversations together with your AntiRacist Mindfulness Practices (being aware of what is happening in the present moment in a nonjudgmental way) and spend time each day reviewing the feelings and needs list to improve your feelings and needs vocabulary.