Inner peace & nonviolent communication
Inner peace & nonviolent communication
After two days of back-to-back intensive lectures and discussions, the Peace Fellowship shifted to a different space, and on day three, the cohort arrived early in the morning at Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve. A hundred years ago, the government oversaw large-scale planting of Chinese red pine there, transforming the originally drought-affected area into dense forest. For this reason, the area is also known as Tsung Tsai Yuen (Little Pines Park). Finding themselves in the forest’s lush diversity, the Fellows not only felt nature’s beauty, but also gained an appreciation of what we so often neglect – inner peace.
Learn to listen to yourself
For those of us who live in Hong Kong, nature can be both close at hand and remote. Fellows’ individual experiences with nature differed: some maintained a respectful distance; some wanted to be a part of it rather than an intruder; some had been on the receiving end of nature’s destructive power; and some took spiritual solace and strength from it. Guided by Amanda Yik, the founder of Shinrin Yoku Hong Kong, even the Fellows who tended to keep a distance from nature quickly found their way into silent contemplation. Their return to inner self was accompanied by the fresh scent of forest trees and the sonata of birdsong and flowing water. Relationships are not limited to those which exist between an individual and the city or between people; establishing a relationship with nature and with ourselves is the key to finding inner peace.
Every encounter with nature is unique. We should learn to listen with our entire body and remember to entrust our body’s weight to the earth, to feel every moment between breathing in and breathing out. When the outside world is in turmoil, reawakening this ability to observe ourselves carefully becomes even more crucial. The joy and delight we find in this "pleasure of presence" also open up space inside us for contemplating the possibility of peace.
How does nonviolent communication work?
To be on good terms with oneself; to communicate with others – these are closely aligned, both requiring us to focus first on ourselves. After a morning of forest bathing, the Fellows moved to that afternoon’s venue, Green Hub. There they practised nonviolent communication (NVC) and developed a strong foundation in its techniques. In our daily lives, many habitual communication methods are in fact violent. For example, we apply good/bad, truefalse, right/wrong as judging criteria, to accuse, criticise, insult, compare and label others. When we do this, the result can be greater alienation from and indifference to ourselves and others. Conflict is inevitable. NVC was developed by Dr Marshall B. Rosenberg, a clinical psychologist. He outlined four steps – observing without judging, expressing feelings, expressing needs, and making specific requests – which allow sincere self-expression while listening to others, establish a mutual connection, and resolve conflicts.
Kimling Lau, a nonviolent communication trainer candidate, first guided the ten Fellows in breathing exercises for self-connection. Next, the Fellows learned methods for self-dialogue and listening to their own and others’ needs. Companionship, empathy, play, space, freedom, autonomy, good health, a sense of belonging – there are many kinds of "needs". Furthermore, everyone’s needs are different and will change over time. "Because they have needs, people communicate." But the aim of communication is not to judge another person’s behaviour to be right or wrong: "Between right and wrong, there is a vast plain. Learn to translate the needs that underlie someone’s behaviour; even if you don't agree with the behaviour itself, you can still connect with the person. Nonviolent communication is about finding a deep, mutual connection by searching for needs."
Two important NVC techniques are "four voices" and "six-minute exercise". "Four voices" is akin to journaling. The first and second voices are "blaming each other" and "blaming yourself"; the third voice is "discovering your feelings and needs"; and the final voice is "listening to the other person’s feelings and needs". This "self-dialogue" moves forward step by step to uncover the needs of both parties. Throughout the process, it is essential to avoid making judgmental comments and to learn to understand the other person and dismantle the image of an enem.
“Six-minute exercise” emphasises listening. The first minute is spent connecting with the self and evaluating whether space exists in oneself for listening. The next minute is spent in silence, listening and not speaking, sensing the other person's feelings. In minutes three to four, the listener attempts a concise response to the key points and those feelings. The last two minutes are used to address the other person’s needs in the listener’s own words.
A single afternoon of practice, though short, was enough to give the Fellows an in-depth understanding of how listening to and understanding each other's needs can help to manage one’s own emotions and improve relationships. As Kimling said, "Listening is a gift. It helps the other person to discover their innermost needs, to learn what their needs are without fear of criticism." Only in this way can the door to true communication be opened.
每一次與大自然一事一物相遇都是獨特的，學習運用整個身體去聆聽，記住將身體的重量交托給土地，一呼一吸間的每一刻感受。當外間世界太紛擾，更需要重拾這種仔細地觀照自我的能力。這一份"pleasure of presence"帶來的喜悅和享受，也讓心上開拓出空間去思考和平的可能。
與自己和好，與他人溝通，兩者關係十分密切，都要先將專注力放在自己身上。緊隨上午的森林浴後，下午來到綠滙學院進行的非暴力溝通（Nonviolent communication，簡稱NVC）練習， 便有了穩妥的基礎。在生活中，不少我們習以為常的溝通方式其實都帶著暴力，例如用好壞、是非、對錯作為判斷標準，指責、批評、謾罵、比較和為人貼標籤等等。這些都有可能使人與自己、與他人之間的關係愈加疏離、冷漠，衝突在所難免。 美國心理學家馬歇爾．盧森堡（Marshall B. Rosenberg）博士創立的NVC，透過「觀察、表達感受、需要、做出具體請求」四個步驟，讓人真誠表達自己，同時聆聽他人，建立彼此的連結，化解衝突。
在NVC中，「四把聲音」和「六分鐘練習」都是重要的方法。「四把聲音」儼如寫日記般，第一二把聲音分別是「指責對方」及「指責自己」； 第三把聲音是「找出自己的感受和需要」，最後則是「聆聽對方的感受和需要」。這個「和自己對話」的過程，也在一步步挖掘出自己和對方的需要。過程中要盡量避免對他人作出評論式的言辭，同時學習理解別人，消化敵人形象 。