Learning to Regain Your Balance in Difficult Situations & Conversations: A quick tour …

Posted by on Oct 26, 2012 in Coleen's Blog | 0 comments

I had an opportunity (thanks Wade Van Snick) to spend a brief period of time this afternoon with a group of dedicated educators at the Nova Scotia School Counsellors Association  [the Conference Theme was – Bringing Restorative Energy & Transformative Healing to Education] sharing a few key practices to support them and their clients (students and parents) in the challenging and rewarding work that they do. This posting is to support each of these dedicated and talented folks with additional information and resources.

I created a visual map (see image) to guide us along our journey.

We began with an Invitation to Beginners Mind  (voluntarily suspending judgement & temporarily suspending opinions)  and I shared the following quote:  “Openness is like the wind. If you open your doors and windows, it is bound to come in.” Chogyam Trungpa

We practiced a Centering & Grounding technique from Presence-Based Coaching: Cultivating Self-Generative Leaders Through Mind, Body, and Heart based on the excellent work of Doug Silsbee www.dougsilsbee.com. Doug has an excellent blog as well.

We then took a quick tour through the foundational piece of what I have termed the layer cake of Difficult Conversations – What Happened? (who is right, who is to blame & it is usually not me!) , Feelings (we all have emotional footprints)  and Identity (the really interesting stuff, habits, triggers, physical reactions). Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most by the Harvard Negotiation Project by: Stone, Patton& Heen.

Then the fun part of the tour moving towards the qualities of open heart, open mind accompanied by this great quote from Pema Chodron from her book Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits & Fears …”We are all a mixture of aggression and loving kindness, heart-heartedness and tender open-heartedness, small mindedness and forgiving open mind. We are not a fixed, predictable, static identity that anyone can point to and say, “You are always like this. You are always the same.” p. 31

We are all a work in progress… and as such we can open ourselves to new learning, to creating new patterns to embracing the complexity of our situation. Reframing What Happened? (we each have different information), Feelings (listening and being present with an open heart) and Identity (breath, pause, space, practice skills).

We practiced  Being Like a Mountain in a Hurricane – an on the spot – standing, centering practice (intentionally getting out of our busy worked up minds and bringing the breath to our center of gravity).  Moving from there back into one more Centering & Grounding Practice and then wrapping it up with a quote from Stephen Cope’s, The Wisdom of Yoga: A Seeker’s Guide to Extraordinary Living. ” All actions in the world are interrelated and interdependent. We create our world through our actions. Every act has the power to change the entire field of mind and matter. The universe is like one big sweater, and each one of us is knit into it. When you tug on any part of it the whole sweater moves… our actions are based on our perceptions – and our perceptions have been shaped by our earlier actions. It’s all a great loop. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.”

Following the session, one of the participants asked me for a Mindfulness book that would be useful with students – one of my colleagues who is a counsellor at the NSCC lent me, Wild Chickens & Petty Tyrants: 108 Metaphors for Mindfulness by Arnie Kozak – I think it is an excellent resource.

Hold it lightly, allow yourself to let go of right answers, one right way, find a body practice that supports your health (yoga, skating, walking, skiing, gardening) and return to your breath!