Those who see all beings in themselves
And themselves in all beings,
How can the seeming diversity of life
Delude the one who has seen its unity?
Isha Upanishad 6-7. Translated by Donna Farhi ('Bringing Yoga to Life)
Sheila was a spitfire. A red-headed no BS, tell it how she sees it kind of women who attended one of my trainings. I adored having her in the program because she brought up thoughts that often go unsaid. As we discussed philosophy around connection and the idea of loving all beings Sheila became edgy. She blurted out something to the effect of, “I don’t buy this. It’s stupid to think I’m suppose to love everyone all the time - it just makes me feel guilty when I don’t or I can’t.
As a facilitator I love these moments. It was raw, honest, and opened a discussion around what loving others actually looks like. It’s not easy with some people, it’s not something we just do; it’s a skill that requires presence, self awareness, and huge compassion because we will always be working with it. When we skip steps, feign empathy, or repress our feelings because we think we “should’ be more compassionate, we create more problems. Once we appreciate this, we can move forward knowing that as we build a sense of connection, mutual respect, and care we will do so imperfectly and through practice.
What does it mean to communicate from love?
Love is action over words and presence over posturing. Communicating from love is more then being polite, saying what we ‘should’ say, or trying to please. To communicate from love is a willingness to engage with respect, honesty, listening, care, and compassion to ourself and another. It can be hard, gritty, confronting, and seemingly impossible with some people.
When we communicate from genuine love our relationships transform. We deepen our experience of empathy, intimacy, and create a greater sense of mutual trust and possible growth.
“Our spiritual fitness can only be tested in relation to others”- Donna Farhi
4 Attitudes For Loving Communication
Our ability to engage from love varies depending on circumstances. When we feel safe and heard it’s easier to express ourself effectively then the we feel jealous, hurt, or angry.
The 4 Brahmaviharas, or ‘sublime attitudes’ from the Buddhist tradition offer a compass for navigating our relationship to self and others. These virtues are inter-related and build upon each other. Below I have outlined these virtues and how we cultivate them in our communication and relationships. We begin where loving is easy and progress towards those more difficult encounters and situations. The key is to start where love is accessible and grow from here.
1: Loving Kindness/ Friendship (Maitrī/Metta)
Friendship. Kindness. Goodwill.
It’s easier to be honest, caring, and a good listener for people who are pleasantly disposed to us. These relationships give us a place to clarify our thoughts, acknowledge ourselves, and connect with others from genuine interest and care. In friendship we build our confidence and skills in communication.
As you read this think of some who makes you feel safe and notice the feeling of appreciation and love you have for them.
Take a breath, and feel it.