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Jim

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Freedom

Today we focused on the topic of freedom using a series of question that we discussed in pairs or threes or in the whole group. Let me know if you would like copies of the pages of discussion questions and I can email them to you.

We began with the very open questions of "What does freedom mean to you?" "What makes it important?" and "Are there particular areas in your life where you have strong reactions, feelings or needs concerning freedom?"

We then took time to write briefly about freedom in different life areas -- relation with self, with a partner, with family & friends, larger community, social institutions and global groups, followed by empathic listening that began to explore the celebrations and mournings we have in those areas. It became obvious that while freedom is very important, it is also very complex and our relationship to freedom may need a lot of exploration and support.

Next, we explored the ways we hold ourselves back, including by labelling and limiting ourselves -- "I'm a shy person" "I'm a nice person" or "I'm an extrovert" can provide information, but can also limit our own sense of what's possible, or how other people see us or respond to us. More than one person commented on the freedom of stepping outside of our own self-limiting beliefs.

We broke for lunch then resumed by looking at how others have attempted (and possibly succeeded) in limiting or controlling our behaviour as well as the needs they were trying to meet and our own needs that were met by complying -- to fit in, to be accepted, for harmony, etc.

We talked about what we are not allowed to do and why or what we think we have to do and why, getting empathy and understanding from our partner, and many people talked about the sense of movement, insight and support they felt by being heard. When we explored what we might do it we were totally free -- an interesting pattern emerged -- initially a very selfish and demanding action might be expressed, but it was quickly followed by comments that moderated the first behaviour to better need a fuller spectrum of needs. For example, I might think I would like to kiss someone I just met meeting a need for intimacy, closeness, touch and sexual expression, but I also have a need for respect, cooperation and mutuality. My actual behaviour that took all of my needs into account might be a clear request for a hug or a kiss, without any demand energy -- coming from a spirit of joy and play.

We finished the afternoon with an exercise using "presence" as a way to experience freedom. Many of us find it difficult to experience another person expressing strong emotions -- anger, sorrow, despair, etc. The possibility of tuning in so deeply to being fully compassionately present for the speaker allowed us as listeners to actually experience peace, equanimity or even joy while listening to strong feelings. It also allowed the speakers to express themselves and feel heard -- even if the listeners only used presence and silent empathy. A very powerful experience of freedom.

There seemed to be a lot of agreement about the value of exploring the topic, and that there is much more yet to discover and attend more deeply to, but it seemed to be a rich and satisfying day.

For any participants in the day -- I'd love to include your comments about the day in this summary. Would you be willing to forward your comments to me, or add them to this summary?

Jim (jim@pacificatreatment.ca)

 
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doc Thoughts_of_Freedom.doc (36.50 KB, 3 views)

JennaCard

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Reply with quote  #2 
I really inspired and intrigues hearing your account of the exploration of Freedom, Jim.   I wonder if you'd be willing to include the attachment of the questions in this thread?

(it is possible to edit your original post to add the attachment by using the 'full editor' feature and the 'attach file' option that will appear at the bottom… let me know if you'd enjoy tech support [smile]

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