November Greetings from Jonathan Foust: Relational Dharma, Releasing the Barriers to Love and More!



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  Recently I’ve been rebuilding our wood stove, putting on snow tires and checking my stock of wool socks.   We’ve had a cold snap and with the days getting shorter it’s easy to get out on the river well before sunrise, though now I’m wearing long underwear, my thermal gloves and heavy duty booties.   There’s a natural turning inward this time of year as the fall colors blossom and fade. I wish you well in a another season of transition.   welcome spacer-25  

Relational Dharma

here’s a look Tara gives me when she says, "We need to talk."   It's a certain narrowing of her eyes and set to her jaw.   My reaction is always the same, no matter how many times it happens. The thought process goes like this:   "I know I'll be glad we had this talk. I know this is good for me. But nothing in me wants to do this right now!" Figuring out and managing one's own life path (dharma) is hard enough. Mix it up with another and things can get enormously complicated.   As Tara and I have been teaching more about the the art of relationships, we've come to see that 'relational dharma' is a powerful and transformative path.   One day Tara and I were in some conflict. I felt hurt by something she said but didn't say anything about it. I carried it around for days and I could feel resentment building up. When we finally sat down to clear the air, given how backed up my emotions were, my communication wasn't, to put it mildly, skillful.   After I had emptied both barrels in a hot torrent of anger and frustration Tara paused for a bit and then said, "You know, I totally get it. I'd feel exactly the same way if that happened to me."   Game over. I'd been heard. I got that she got it.   We joke now that the first person to do a role-reversal wins. For both of us.   A role-reversal is simply tuning into another's experience and imagining what it must feel like inside.   When I’'m around others now I try to remember to imagine and sense what they might need or want. From the cashier who I imagine might be feeling tired at the end of the day to the phone conversation where I imagine the other person needs to air out some as yet unspoken feeling, I see this practice as an opportunity to pause and practice empathy. Who knows if I’'m just hallucinating, but it seems as though my capacity for compassion has increased a bit.   One teacher said it comes down to this: “Learn to see Self in Other and Other in Self.”   In December Tara and I are offering a weekend residential retreat on relationships. More below.   If you'd like to catch a talk I gave on this topic you can listen via youtube, iTunes or streaming online.       iTunes Podcast

Online Streaming    

Upcoming Events

November 2:

Evening Class at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington Learn More

November 9:

Evening Class at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington Learn More

November 14:

A Meditative Journey: Dynamic Meditation
Learn More

November 16:

Evening Class at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington Learn More

November 23:

Evening Class at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington Learn More

November 30:

Evening Class at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington Learn More

December 4-6:

Relationships Retreat at the Garrison Institute with Tara Brach Learn More    

Images from Last Month

  The light changes each month. I'm savoring the last of these colors before winter sets in.   I aim to get to the river before sunrise. This morning's glow lasted all of about thirty seconds.   1a spacer-25 Morning light flows between two islands.   2a spacer-25 Water, on the rocks.   3a spacer-25 Stopping over.   4a spacer-25 First light on Sycamore roots.   5a spacer-25 Backlighting on a small island.   6a spacer-25  

On the River, October 2015

  Video and stills from this month. We work our way up-river, then literally go with the flow back down. I share a few of the more compelling clips and shots in recent weeks and if you like, you can do some ‘coherent breathing’ as well.      

Releasing the Barriers to Love: A Pathway of Conscious Relationships

at the Garrison Institute Garrison, NY December 4 - 6   Please come on your own, or with a friend, family member or partner!   Intimacy with others can be the ground for experiencing full aliveness and sacred communion.   Yet as so many have experienced, our relationships are also often the source of insecurity, hurt and betrayal.   During this weekend workshop we will explore the beliefs and feelings that separate us from each other and the meditative practices that enable us to cultivate genuine bonds of trust, understanding, intimacy and love.   Our time together will include short dharma talks, silent meditation, mindful movement, reflective inquiry and dyadic exercises.   To learn more, please visit: Garrison Institute.   garrison-event spacer-25  

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Seeing Self as Other and Other as Self

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Four Questions That Help You Move Through Conflict

  Non-Violent Communication is one the most effective techniques I've ever run across for bridging the chasm between conflicted parties.   There's an art and science to it, but I find it helpful to think of this as four inquiries:   1. What exactly are we talking about? What do we both agree actually happened?

2. What do I feel? (Hint: It's usually more than one feeling.)

3. What was I hoping for or wanting that didn't happen? (This can be a big shift from blame to identifying your unmet need.)

4. What is a life-affirming request I can make? (For example, "Would you be willing to find a time when we can talk about this?" "Would you be willing to tell me what I said so I get that you heard me?")   These four inquiries, if you attend to them with honesty, sincerity and diligence, can guide you to wisdom and compassion for yourself and the other.   To learn more about Non-Violent Communication, click here.

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