The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

5th chakra--communication

There are so many ways to look at the throat chakra: honesty, clarity of communication, size of vocabulary, ability to hear without filters. And more.  Let's just say that the quality of communication within yourself will determine your ability to harness your intelligence and energy.  The quality of communication in relationships will determine the passion, love, and health within that relationship. And the quality of communication within a society determines the health of the body politic.  Note the dreadful communication between Right and Left in America right now.  We have serious problems--both sides think they are the only side with compassion, intelligence and true patriotism.  Let alone sanity.  It's frightening.
And, of course, the quality of communication between nations will determine the future of this planet.
So what can you do?  Start with yourself.  You have NO right to expect better communication between nations of political parties than you have within yourself, or between you and your primary relationship.  This is one of the reasons that I consider your primary intimate relationship to be so important.  You can walk away from lovers when it gets tough. But when you have to stay in there and work things out, well, that's a whole different matter.  Someone you wake up next to every day is very different from a long-distance relationship.  Yes, you can grow and evolve as a human being without this, but you are working "blind" in this one aspect, and you had BETTER have your act together in the other two, brothers and sisters.
There's something I call the "Billy Budd syndrome."  It is the fact that, in any prison population, there is an inverse relationship between size of vocabulary and violence of crime for which a convict has been incarcerated.  In other words, the more elegant the communication, the lesser the violence.  Can you grasp the implication?  The better you are at communicating your needs and desires, the less likely the relationship will be to break down.  If you have no primary relationship, then you have an awesome responsibility to be SUPER clear on your communications within your own psyche.  Dream diaries become vital, as does meditation.  YOU must take responsibility if communication has broken down in your life.  Don't you dare blame the other person.  That is not only usually b.s., but it also makes you helpless. 
We'll go into this more in the next week or so, but here's an exercise I learned from Harley "Swiftdeer" Reagan, what Native Americans call a "talking stick." 
1) Choose an object that has some emotional significance to you and your partner.  any object will do, if you are willing to respect it.  (I recently used a fist-sized toy horse.  We called it a "talking pony."  Ahem.)  We'll just refer to it as a talking stick.
2)  Partner A  takes the talking stick.  She says her piece, as succinctly as possible, speaking from the heart.  When she is finished, she gives the talking stick to partnerB.
3) Partner B takes the talking stick.  He repeats back what partner A said, until partner A agrees that partner B has communicated clearly and accurately the gist of the original statement.  If partner B has problems doing this, the stick is returned to partner A, and the process repeats until the original comment IS communicated accurately.
4) Only after the initial comment is communicated accurately, Partner B may make his statement, clearly and succinctly. When he is finished, pass the talking stick back to partner A.
5) It is now Partner A's turn to repeat back what was said, without additions or distortions.  Only when partner B agrees that he has been heard or understood may Partner A make her own comments.
6)  Repeat this process until the issues have been clearly communicated.
This works phenomenally well.  Don't be surprised if it takes multiple attempts to get those first communications clear.  If you haven't done an exercise like this, the chances are that the two of you haven't been listening to each other for a very long time, and grotesque distortions have crept into your communications.  No yelling.  No personal attacks.  Just communications of feelings and observations, with the intent to clarify.  You may need a neutral observer to keep things under control, especially if there is a LOT of pain in the relationship.  Be careful to keep things on track.  Don't wander off, don't speak out of turn.  Really HEAR what the other person is saying.  Otherwise, you have no right to expect to be heard.

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