The Self-Connection Process and "Taking the 3rd Chair" in Difficult Conversations

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, and collaborate based in giving and receiving. 

The first map is the map of the Self-Connection Process, which gives you the ability to anchor yourself in the inner "3rd chair" perspective of awareness and consciousness. This is not just connection with your individual, personal, separate sense of self, but with a larger, more expansive and interconnected experience. From this perspective, you are the awareness that observes the conversations of thoughts and feelings, connects with underlying commonality and universality, and effectively navigates the storminess and rough terrains of inner and outer conflict in a way that leads to well being and new possibilities and solutions. 

The Steps of the Self-Connection Process: Breath, Body, Need 

Breath. Observe your breath, following it in and out in the present moment. 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 thoughts in your mind: Past, future, "self" coming and going, 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. Slow and deepen the breath, relaxing the body with each out breath, 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 the body, feel the underlying energy, aliveness, life force animating and flowing through you.

Need. At the source of thoughts and feelings are needs — human and universal — a language of life, of connection and commonality: safety, love, freedom. And need, the essence of needs, is life itself, the wholeness, universality, and interrelatedness we are part of, the source of creativity, evolution, and emergent possibilities. From the inner 3rd chair, a way to connect with need is to focus on space, the space between, surrounding, connecting thoughts and feelings and all we perceive into one boundless whole. Bring attention to the space that holds everything you perceive in your field of awareness. 

From this place, the light of empathy shines on self and other, and you see with compassion the underlying commonality and connection that transforms and liberates. Everything, everything is dancing the dance of need meeting needs. Thought and action arise as natural giving and receiving, the desire to contribute to one another's needs. And there is a new sense of choice — no demand, have to, or should — just kindness in service of well being.

For information on public training see mediateyourlife.com. For more information on organizational training and support for difficult conversations see johnkinyon.com.