Posts Tagged 'enlightened interaction'

The Socratic Interaction

XantippeI attended an AAUW (American Association of University Women) meeting recently at which we held a Socratic discussion.  This wonderful form of interaction a was made even more delightful to me when the topic chosen was civility.

I have found that AAUW meetings are usually quite civilized to begin with; a bunch of mature, smart women around the table exchanging ideas instead of soundbites.  The Socratic discussion format further encourages civility by allowing participants to clarify their thinking, examine their assumptions and provide evidence for their opinions.  In addition, the implications of an argument are examined and a space is made for counter arguments.

A lovely time was had by all.  I had feared that the facilitation would be pedantic and dull, but delving into each others’ ideas rather than bashing one another with opinions, resulted in a lively and friendly debate with room for everyone’s ideas.  Not once did an intelligent introvert get talked over or shut down!  The extroverts got their turn to speak as well. It was, in short, the most enlightened verbal interaction I can recall in a group that size.

I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about Socrates, but I began to remember a bit about him. You might think Socrates developed his methods from debating with his philosopher cronies, and coaching recalcitrant students.  But I also seem to recall that Socrates was married to Xanthippe, whose name has been given to shrews throughout history.  Xanthippe had a reputation for being quite harsh and abusive, even stomping on a cake that a student had given her husband.  Not a nice gal!

In Xenophon, Symposium 17-19, Socrates is quoted:  “And that is just my case. I wish to deal with human beings, to associate with man in general; hence my choice of wife. I know full well, if I can tolerate her spirit, I can with ease attach myself to every human being else.”

So we can see why Socrates would facilitate discussions in a thoughtful and civil way – and why his students brought him cakes!  I expect he learned to appreciate and value civilized interactions in the way so many of us do – by experiencing a lack of them!

Thank you Xanthippe for the Socratic discussion…and stay away from my cake.


The Magic E Mail Inbox

These are the enlightened interactions of the day.
As I make a big push in my life to get past the limited and competitive relationships which are so common, I am, of course, very stressed out.  Everything is changing.  I stand on what feels like quicksand and do my best to remember the advice about quicksand:  relax, don’t struggle…
But there is something about the intention and effort to move out of controlling and competitive relationships.  The universe, it seems, supports cooperation and collaborative relationships and it gives me what I need in episodes of grace.  
This isn’t just the Pollyanna in me talking.  Those of you who know me, know that the Jeremiah in me is often much louder; his prophesies of doom drowning out poor Pollyanna.  But those of you who know me, also know that I have one foot firmly planted in the world of facts and science, and science strongly supports my belief that nature, if not the whole Universe, supports collaboration for humankind.  We are wired for Enlightened Interactions.
If you doubt me, you can trust Lynn McTaggart, a science writer who has reported the study after study after study all showing that humans survive not by competition but by cooperation.  McTaggart’s book, The Bond reports this encouraging science in an easy to read way.
As I have taken concrete steps to move out of the snares of competitive and controlling interactions, here is what has happened within a few days.   It seems that I have a magic email inbox which brings me  encouragement and useful information when I need it most.
  • I returned from a party feeling on the fringes and left out of the group.  I open my email to find one from a friend I haven’t seen much.  She says she knows I’m going through big changes and asks if I need her support.  How reassuring that is!  As I complete a life changing transaction the next day, she metaphorically holds my hand by phone, making everything easier.
  • I’m noticing huge competition between me and someone dear to me.  I’m very sad about it and feeling unheard and disconnected.  The magic email is waiting for me when I get home, this time revealing that a couple of business connections who know nothing of my personal relationship want me to collaborate (notice that word!) with them and help each other deal with deal with this competitive behavior in our practices.
  • A radical change is occurring in my work and I feel rather threatened by it, coming as it does, when everything else in my life is changing.  I wake worried, but find an email message from a healer I worked with last year.  He offers reassurance and excellent advice that works.
  • Even Amazon, it seems, is attending to my needs and cooperating with me!  After a long product search for a certain set of shelves, I went to bed, still puzzling over where to find what I want.  I have a very clear picture in my mind of what I need for a certain space in my home.  I have seen nothing remotely like it.  The next morning, the magic email again:  this time containing a message from Amazon.  It says something like, “Is this what you’re looking for?”  There is a picture of the shelving unit which is very, very close to what I imagined and selling for a reasonable price.  How did they know?

The shelves are on their way as I write.

Meeting my Anonymous Friend

In my post, Gifts from an Unknown Artist, I described the artful arrangement of natural items along a wooded path I like to walk.  Each time I walk along the river, someone has come before me, arranging limbs artistically, ornamenting a bare branch with pine cones or petals, or draping a flower or branch of berries over a stump.

On a recent walk, I stopped to photograph a red rosebud on a stump surrounded by a heart shaped arrangement of bark.  A passing dog walker said he had just seen the woman who creates this art.  Later, while noticing another of her creations, a different dog walker said the artist was up ahead on the path, and,  “If you hurry, you might catch up with her.”

I wasn’t sure I wanted to catch up with her.  Over the past year, I had intuited a great deal about this person and her work.  What if I didn’t like her?  What if she turned out to be shallow and was doing these things for a joke?  I didn’t want to risk disappointment.

Well, now I knew this artist was indeed a woman, and I had been certain of that. Although I thought it could be a hormonal teenager, I was sure most of the time that the artist was a woman in her forties.  I saw her as someone who had design in her blood; she couldn’t help arranging beautiful things wherever she went.  Did I want to know if I was mistaken?

I wanted to slow down to avoid meeting this person, but I was walking with a friend who was anxious to meet the artist.  We came around a stand of trees to find a woman in her forties.  We greeted her and spoke for a bit.  Except for looking far different than I had imagined, her personality was pretty much as I had imagined.  Meeting her turned out to be a good experience and I was able to express appreciation for her creations.

As she talked to us, her gaze was drawn here and there to the trees, stumps, leaves and branches.  She seemed to be sizing up design elements.  As soon as we left her, she was arranging branches and pinecones.  I guess she is a compulsive designer.

I was not so happy to learn that one of the dog walkers in the area enjoys knocking over this woman’s artistic arrangements.  He thinks they are a menace to his dog.  Really?  I wonder what kind of dog’s well being is threatened by a rosebud on a stump.

Asked about this, the woodland design artist shrugged as if to say, “Not my concern.”   Obviously the anti-artist is not keeping up with her creations, as something new is revealed each time I walk that path.

The Single Most Enlightened Interaction of Them All

Self love is something that never made any sense to me at all.  Until last year, I understood the concept only intellectually, but didn’t really know what the big deal was.  Suddenly I saw that a lack of self love was affecting all my endeavors.  I didn’t really think that I was not good enough, but I didn’t feel a lot of love for myself.  I put my needs second, third or even last, and if someone had an issue with me, I assumed I was at least 90% responsible.

One day last year, I read that a person who has never experienced unconditional love or brilliant success, can have those feelings downloaded, using Theta Healing®.   Once the person has experienced those feelings, he or she can attract experiences that resonate with the feelings.  I decided I needed to know what it felt like to receive unconditional love, so I booked a Theta Healing® session to “download” this feeling.   What a difference it made!

All my interactions were changed.  I felt more love for and from others.  I also saw very clearly how all love in my life; given or received, originated in me.  Self love is a keystone for enlightened interactions. Most importantly, self love helps you follow your life’s true path.

Long before I experienced unconditional love through Theta Healing®, I had experienced an inner force which, while small, was totally invincible.  I could drown out its message for a while, but not for long.  I could ignore this force for a week, but not a month.  This force was the drive to be authentically me.

I drowned out the small soft voice of this inner force with intellectual chatter.  (I spent many years of my life training my intellectual chatter.)  I could talk myself into this or that course of action, but could not make them work because the force of this inner force made me feel bad if I did things were not in line with my authentic desires.

This force speaks to us in feelings.  You can tell in your body whether you are going the correct direction.  You will feel free and easy if you are.  You will feel resistance and irritation if you are not.  Martha Beck calls this a sense of “shackles off” and “shackles on.”  If you want to understand this concept better, just take a look at your list of things to do right now.  See how each item makes you feel.

I recently had a session with Jeannette Maw, who calls herself the Good Vibe Coach.  Jeannette is full of good vibes and I felt better just hearing her laugh.  After a long and detailed session, she said, “It’s easy.  Decide what you want and then do what feels good.”  My first thought was, “She’s insane!”  But, since what I had been doing hadn’t been working too well, and Jeannette seemed to be happy and successful, I chose to think shw was taking her own advice.

The first result of doing what felt good was a lot of free time.  I was shocked at how many things on my “to do” list did not feel good at all.  All the marketing activities I thought I must do to get business, made me feel like throwing up.  I let them go, thinking I would never get clients, but strangely, feeling hopeful.   Interestingly, the activities I did feel like pursuing resulted in four new clients who are very well suited to me.

Oddly, slacking off like this, I’m getting better results in many areas of life.  I was forcing myself to exercise, but I find that if I listen to my feelings, I will desire to get out and get moving on a fairly regular basis.  Once, I forced myself to eat salads, following my feelings seems to result in a beautifully balanced diet over time, eating salad only when I really want to.

Strangely, my feelings have led me to do some things that no one else understands and I’m trusting that those actions will also bring good results in the long run.  If nothing else, they have created a “shackles off” feeling in the short run.

photo credit: “”>Hotel Ocho”>photopin</a>”>cc</a>

Emotional Alchemy Transforms Fear into Freedom

photo credit: h.koppdelaney via photo pin cc

Fear seems to be one of the least helpful feelings when you are doing something new.  If that something new involves alligator wrestling, fixing a gas leak, or dating a notorious gangster, then your fear will help you stay alive.Most of us experience a different sort of fear that seems attached to unlikely events or events that do not really threaten us.  We worry enough about saying the wrong thing at a meeting that we don’t notice the mugger in the alley.  I laugh when I think of the driven students at my university during exam time, who were so afraid of failing, they would read their note cards while crossing State Street in front of Mack trucks.

When we examine this sort of fear, we tend to dismiss it as groundless.  The trouble is, it doesn’t stay dismissed.  It often has a message that is just as valid as more obvious seeming fears.  Finding the message can be the solution.  For months I woke up with a feeling of fear I didn’t understand.  After my teacher advised me to meditate on it and ask it what it wanted, I discovered that I was afraid I would never find the courage to pursue a cherished goal.  After I got the message, the messenger finally went away.

Getting the message can take a while.  Meantime, you can energetically transmute fear and feel better right now.  Fear is an energy in your body.  You can change the energy in your body by simply thinking about it in a different way.  Imagine your body is surrounded by a bubble of light.  Now imagine that because you are fearful, you make the outer wall of that bubble extra strong and thick, so nothing can get to you.  Also imagine that the bubble is big enough to enclose your body comfortably.

You have now effectively channeled fear energy out of your body into protective but not restrictive boundaries.

What is an Enlightened Interaction?

A friend recently questioned my term Enlightened Interaction.  “I don’t know what it means,” she said, “what does enlightened really mean?  Doesn’t every new ager consider herself enlightened?” she asked.I suppose there is a connotation of spirituality associated with the word “enlightened,” which could be construed as superior.  But when I use the term “enlightened,” I refer to awareness – spiritual or otherwise.

Dictionary definitions of enlightened suggest it is a state of being knowledgeable. Definitions include, “…freed from ignorance and misinformation,” and, “…based on full comprehension of the problems involved.”   Spiritual enlightenment, then, is the ability to understand from a spiritual perspective.

Coming at our interactions in an enlightened state, means we are aware.  This awareness of others requires listening and seeing the other person without projecting our beliefs and motives onto them.

Spiritual enlightenment creates an awareness of spiritual truth.  In most traditions, this means seeing another as an equal and a unique and valuable individual.  The interaction based on this enlightenment is respectful and kind.

Intellectual enlightenment, “…based on full comprehension of the problems involved,” creates an interaction grounded in awareness of reality.  This implies acceptance of others as they truly are and not getting confused by our fantasies and desires for the interaction.

An enlightened interaction, then, precludes any abuse, control or manipulation.  It is an honest interaction between people who are presumed to be equals, who strive to perceive and accept each other as they truly are.

This interaction is not the norm for most of us, but I’d like to think the next stage in our evolution would make it the norm.  Compared to dishonest or controlling interactions, enlightened interaction is satisfying and pain free.  If you cannot achieve enlightened interaction in a voluntary relationship, it is probably a relationship you should walk away from.

I hope this is…well…enlightening.

Interaction with the Enlightened

The 1st Dalai Lama

When I coach people, I tend to learn only about their interactions with people who are aggressive, abusive, or just plain weird.   But there are those who have enlightened interactions with others and we can cheer and encourage ourselves by appreciating such people and modeling ourselves after them.  Most of us can cite someone who has made us feel singularly special and understood.

At the very pinnacle of enlightened interaction, in my book, is the Dalai Lama.  Do a Google search on images of “Dalai Lama with…” and see him with various important people.   Of course, there’s his beaming, joyful face, but what’s really fun is the looks on the faces of those around him.

Here is George W. who looks solemn and uncomfortable even at baseball games, for heaven’s sake.  But this is a different George W.  He is grinning from ear to ear and the smile extends to his eyes and body language.  He’s very much enlightened by the Dalai Lama’s interactions.  These photos give me great hope.

Now see His Holiness with the Prince of Wales.  Charlie’s British aristocracy has slipped askew like an ill fitting hat.  He is as red in the face as a newborn and his smile is broad enough to show his molars!

Oh, my goodness! The Dalai Lama is holding Charlie’s hand! What is going on here?  Something in these interactions seems to cheer these people and cut through the B.S. in short order, so we see them as their mothers probably saw them.

After half a century of keeping a stiff upper lip, the Prince of Wales would not completely thaw within fifteen minutes unless … well … unless he felt safe;  unless he felt respected; unless he felt that someone was relating to him on a profoundly personal level!

Clearly, the enlightened interaction occurs in the present moment and the other person must be feeling accepted and loved or he wouldn’t be grinning like that.  But I accept and love people all the time and they rarely react so positively! What is the difference?

Consider what the Dalai Lama is not doing in his interactions.  I’m just making a guess here but I’m willing to bet my IRA that His Holiness is not even a little bit concerned about what other people think of him.  (He’s wearing an orange flowing outfit in the land of somber business suits, after all.  And he’s not wearing a two foot high mitre to make himself look imposing, either.)

If an important state leader flinched when the lama reached out to hold his hand with interlaced fingers, I’m willing to bet the lama did not take it personally any more that you would take it personally when a child resists your overtures.

If a head of state looked grumpy when first meeting the Dalai Lama, I’m quite sure the lama did not think, “Oh no!  I can tell he doesn’t like me.”

I believe the joy in these interactions results from one person being totally present for another.  This presence precludes self consciousness and allows one to truly see who the other person is.  When I am able to practice really being here in the moment with another, my interactions are  much more rewarding.  To what little degree I have learned to be present, I experience a bit of the magic of an enlightened interaction.

I’m hardly in a position to fully understand someone like the Dalai Lama.  But I think that being  profoundly present with another person, in the moment, allows a connection with the essence of that person.  Connecting in that way is love and it feels wonderful, I know!  Just look at George grin!

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