Elections have a way of making us feel divided. With so much emphasis on our differences, we lose sight of what we share.
The truth is that we are all deeply connected. This is not an abstract idea, but a fact of life. I saw it with blinding clarity the moment I first held my son, so small, so vulnerable, so perfect. Then I imagined my father holding me, and his father before him.
The continuous chain of life is so obvious when you take the time to look.
Why do we spend so much energy defining our differences? When you boil it down we all have the same human needs: food, shelter, warmth, love.
This election, I’m voting for positive human connection; not just in those times when I’m sharing a pot of tea with people I love, but also during those inevitable situations when I’m dealing with people and we don’t see eye to eye.
Here’s a simple practice for developing positive human connection–even when it’s hard.
Three Steps to a Deeper Connection
Step 1: Unplug.
Shut off the phone. Close the laptop. Turn off the radio. Unplug the TV and game console. We are drowning in an infinite sea of information. The first step to developing a genuine connection is to be present, and to be present we have to shut off the noise. When possible, it’s great to share a meal, and some tea. Nourishing our bodies helps break the ice and builds an immediate common ground.
Step 2. Listen.
I once heard a nun say that the leader of her order would let her go to a multi-faith conference only if she was ready to convert.
This baffled me at first, and then I got it.
When you listen, authentically try to understand what you are hearing. Let go of your beliefs, if only for a moment, and imagine that the speaker is not only being honest, but also is absolutely correct.
Step 3. Speak From Your Heart.
I asked my five year-old son where his thoughts came from, and he said, “My heart tells my mouth what to say!”
Use this breathing exercise to improve your mind-heart communication.
1. Put your hand on your heart.
2. Breathing in, count to 4.
3. Hold for 4 seconds.
4. Breathing out, count to 8.
5. Repeat 4 times.
6. Try to feel your heart beating under your hand.
7. Your words have power, and once spoken cannot be unspoken. When you are ready, speak what is kind and true.
What are your strategies for being open in difficult conversations? For collaborating with people when you don’t see eye to eye? Let me know—please share your experiences in the comments below!
P.S. To celebrate this election, we’re offering a free cup of chai, today only (Nov. 6, 2012), when you bring a friend to one of our SF Lounge locations. Mention this email to redeem your gift!