In our Mediate Your Life training, we offer what is called a Self-Connection Process. This process integrates components of Compassionate Communication (Nonviolent Communication/NVC) with mindfulness and a 3-chair mediation framework that provides different "maps" to navigate life's challenges and difficult conversations.
The Self-Connection Process map supports you to find the inner "3rd chair" of awareness. From this place, you can observe and feel the inner "opposing chairs" conversations of thoughts and feelings, and effectively navigate the storminess and rough terrains of conflict to connect in a way that leads to well being and new possibilities for solutions.
The Steps of the Self-Connection Process: Breath, Body, Need
Breath. Observe your breath, following it in and out in the present moment. Slow and deepen the breath, from the belly to the chest/heart center to the head. As you observe the breath, observe the conversation of thoughts in your mind — the consciously talking to yourself thoughts, words, beliefs, and the automatic, habitual thoughts that pass through: perceptions, images, stories, evaluations, judgments of others and yourself. With the breath as your anchor, over and over stepping back into the inner 3rd chair of awareness, witnessing and observing the conversation of thoughts in your mind: Past, future, "self" and "other" come and go, arising and dissolving like shadowy, misty phantoms, potential not actual. Sense perceptions come alive — sights, sounds, smells, touch, taste!
Body. Feel your body. Feel the sensations and emotions, especially the difficult ones: the fear, anger, hurt, suffering. Shift from thinking, such as who or what's to blame, to feeling and experiencing. With each out breath, relaxing the body more and more, shifting from the body's fight-flight-freeze threat system to the relaxation response of the parasympathetic nervous system. As you deepen into presence with body sensation, feel the underlying energy, aliveness, life force animating and flowing through awareness.
Need. At the source of thoughts and feelings are needs — human and universal — a language of life, of connection and commonality: safety, love, freedom. Need is the vulnerability we all share. Being alive, we all need. From the space of awareness, need is the space between and surrounding thoughts and feelings, the space that connects all we perceive into one whole, and the source of creativity, synthesis, and emergent possibilities. In the emptiness there is also a fullness. Humanistic psychology pioneer Carl Rogers called this the "actualizing tendency" of Life. In the spiritual tradition of Taoism, this is the Tao. Bring attention to the space surrounding, connecting, holding the conversation between all you perceive, and see with compassion everything, everything dancing the dance of need meeting needs.
From this "3rd chair" of awareness, the light of empathy shines on the inner and outer conversations between self and other, and you see with compassion the underlying commonality and connection that transforms and liberates. Conscious thought and action then arise as a new sense of choice — no demand, have to, or should. There is just kindness in service of well being.