Sunday, April 29, 2012

Giving from the Heart

 "Through it's emphasis on deep listening - to ourselves as well as others - Nonviolent Communication (NVC) fosters respect, attentiveness, and empathy and engenders a mustual desire to give from the heart."

Marshall G. Rosenberg Ph.D. provides a template for compassionate communication in his book "Nonviolent Communication, A Language of Life".  His primary assumption is that human beings are compassionate creatures who act with caring and mutual respect. "NVC helps us connect with ourselves and each other in a way that allows our natural compassion to flourish."  We reframe the way we communicate with each other by focusing our attention in four areas:
  1. observation of what is really happening in a situation in specific detail.
  2. noting our feelings in relation to the situation
  3. determining what our needs are, in specific behaviors, from the situation.
  4. making specific requests based on the needs we've identified.
After following these four steps we then return to listen actively and with respect to the other party involved in the communication.  This form of communication is compassionate because both parties involved are looking deeply into themselves and giving from the heart as they share with one another.  It is a process that takes time and concentration at first, but becomes natural as experience in using it grows.

Why would you want to take the effort to learn this form of communication?

Our culture has become one in which individuals are judged, compared against arbitrary standards without individuals taking responsibility for their own behaviors. Demands are made and we do things without taking our own needs into consideration. We are told we deserve what we get, but what have we done to get it?  This is all what Rosenberg refers to as life-alienating communication. It comes naturally to all of us and we do it without thinking. It stems from centuries of life in systems where we are ruled and influenced by the few. Is this a legacy we want to hand down to our children?  Unless we consciously practice compassionate forms of communication we are destined to communicate at least some of our culture's defeating language systems in our everyday exchanges.

We will be learning in our group how to Observe, state our Feelings, identify our Needs and share our Requests in the coming weeks.  Until then, take time several times a day to just watch your baby.  Take a deep breath and let it out and notice what feelings and thoughts arise. Just let the feelings and thoughts pass by saying "There is a thought" or "There is that feeling" and return to watching your baby.  You can do this when s/he is active or sleeping.  Just give yourself some time to observe what your baby is doing in that moment.  Make note of any observations, feelings or thoughts you have if you like.  

When we observe we have to step out of whatever situation we are in, into the moment.  This ability to step out can be very useful when your baby is in distress and you are at your wits end. It provides a space where you can observe and notice without being emotionally tied to the situation.  It takes allot of practice to gain a sense of stepping out, but eventually you will reach it and be able to describe it accurately. What's your baby doing?

You can do this exercise on yourself too as you sit quietly alone catching the secret moment that nobody knows exists.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Postpartum Doula

In many cultures women are honored
after they give birth.
They are surrounded by
mothers, grandmotherssisters, 
aunts and friends. All of them
together making food, drawing the bath
with healing salts and soothing fragrances.
Rubbing the mother's sore body muscles 
with warm almond oil until her skin glows.
Making the laundry fresh and clean
and the house sparkle with happiness.

All for the mother.
So she can heal and care 
for the most precious gift
she has given to the world.
Protecting her healing time
so she can gaze into her newborn's eyes
and learn every crease and wrinkle.
To soak her child back into herself
as the infant drinks her warm sweet milk.

It is every woman's birthright to have this time.
Even in our fast paced culture.
We need to catch our breath and unfold
so our children will know we are with them.
I am a woman who honors the time after birth.
When mothers, sisters, aunts and friends may be 
flung to the four corners of the earth,
busy with their own lives,
or seperated by great distances although
they live in close proximity.
I keep the time and space for nurturing 
so the mother can rest and tend to her baby.
Her precious gift to the world.

In our culture there are too many mothers 
who slip into deep depression, endless worries or fear.
Mothers who feel that they do not know what to do.
Women who have experienced traumatic births
With no recovery in sight.
Women who are missing  the natural urge
to hold their newborn babies
but do it anyway out of a courageous strain of love.

These mothers need to be honored.
Their precious babies hold their gifts, waiting
to give it to the world before it is lost.
I am a woman who listens to the pain
as it drains out of the wounded mothers.
I help them find their way towards healing. 
I help them find hope.

I am a Postpartum Doula and I know
how fragile this time after birth can be
because I have lived it myself alone.
I will go to great lengths to honor a woman's 
time after birth as something sacred;
something essential to the well being of us all.

Mothers deserve to feel rested and able 
to cope with their newborn babies.
To take their rest knowing that all will be well,
knowing that these first weeks are the 
most important time that can be taken
to give and heal.