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Empathy

Holding the World in Our Hearts

Here at Seed of Peace we feel deep sadness to hear of Russian 'special operations' in Ukraine, which appear to amount to an invasion. We feel tormented to see Ukrainian civilians being shelled and long for their safety. We long for Ukrainians to get the practical and emotional support they need to protect their country and their way of life. Our compassionate instinct encourages us to resonat...
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Memories, Dreams and Reflections

I dreamed that I was leaning forward on a powerful motorbike, making my way down an empty road on a clear night until I came to a little guard house and red/white border barrier. I stopped for a moment as the barrier lifted, crossed over and continued my journey. The weather changed. Fog came up. I didn't know where I was going and what to expect. I felt curious, guarded and a little bit anxious o...
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Parenting: turning conflict into cooperation

parent holding child at the beach
A constant power struggle What do we want for ourselves and our children? When we ask this question in our parenting workshops, we always hear the same answers: respect, care, cooperation and responsibility. Sadly, the picture we get from people talking about their daily parenting lives is different. We hear of parents in conflict with their children around everyday activities. Whether that's ...
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The gift of gratitude

Open grave strewn with flowers
On Saturday I accompanied Shantigarbha to the funeral of his Buddhist teacher, Sangharakshita — founder of the Triratna Buddhist Order and Community. It was the first time I had participated in a Buddhist funeral ceremony. Sangharakshita was 93 years old, and had started the community 50 years ago. The community has grown over the years and is now spread over six continents, so people came to t...
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Empathy Archery

Empathy is a respectful understanding of another person’s experience. Since I’ve been learning how to empathize, I've often got it ‘wrong’. What I mean is that the person I was listening to told me, either by a shake of the head or by a ‘No’, that my empathy guess hadn’t landed. I had the sense of firing arrows towards a distant target, and most of them falling short or going wide. At those moment...
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The Significance of Self-Empathy

At the moment we’re running our 6-week Nonviolent Communication (NVC) courses here in Bristol. There are lots of things I enjoy about the courses. One example is what happens after I’ve introduced the Tree of Compassionate Connection. I use the Tree to share the idea of self-empathy as the first step to ground ourselves, to create an inner space, from which we are able listening with empathy. Part...
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The Difference Between Empathy and Compassion

A couple of weeks ago my partner Gesine came back from an NVC discussion evening. Compassion had been one of the topics. Gesine told me that one woman talked about a conflict with her daughter. The woman was very sad about it, especially as she wanted to model to her daughter a different way of dealing with conflict. She wanted to bring more compassion into the world. The conversation had got Gesi...
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NVC tips for surviving and thriving this Holiday Season

I met a friend one morning in early December. We talked about Christmas coming up, and about how many people find it stressful. I asked him what, if anything, he finds challenging about it? His response was that it's spending time with relatives, particularly those he's grown apart from. After I had empathized with his hopelessness and frustration, I asked him if he would like to hear some NVC ...
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Giraffe and Jackal Ears Exercise

Some time ago I did an exercise with a group of participants on a training in Stourbridge, UK, famous for its Rudolph Steiner connection and the Camphill Trust. The purpose of the exercise was to get clear about the choices I have when I hear a message. I asked the participants if they were fed up with hearing blame and criticism, and suggested (playfully!) that they need never hear blame and crit...
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