Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Freedom of Interdependence

I've been contemplating for weeks what I could write a blog about relevant to my workshop this weekend, Living Oneness in a Divided World. The inspiration for this workshop is the spirituality of Nonviolent Communication, but for me, NVC is so inherently 'spiritual' it's difficult to even explain how so.

What I love about NVC is how the people who are drawn to it seem to either already have or eventually develop an appreciation for our interdependence as humans, and more broadly as living beings. I had heard the word interdependence used in other contexts before I came across NVC, I think, but it isn't necesarily a commonly used word.

Two much more common terms are independence and co-dependence, the false dilemma of our times. I remember being told at fourteen years old, when I was sad about something a friend had said to me, that I was being co-dependent. I didn't even know what that meant, except that it obviously implied something was wrong with me. The meaning I made of this short interaction was that it wasn't OK for me to have any feelings about what someone else did, because then people wouldn't accept or respect me. Instead I should "not take things personally," be emotionally independent, or self-sufficient.

I took this so seriously that even after a major break-up two years later, I could hardly bring myself to confide in a close friend about my heartbreak, because I felt so guilty for having any emotions related to another person's actions at all. I was afraid of being once again labeled as co-dependent.

It has been incredibly liberating to me to learn the consciousness of Nonviolent Communication, which honors our feelings and our heart's desires, without making other people responsible for them. I have learned that acknowledging how others' actions have impacted me is not the same as blaming them or 'taking it personally' (thinking I am the cause of their actions).

This makes a lot of sense to me in terms of interdependence, or the more religious phrases oneness or unity. To try to live as though I am impervious to the world around me, unmoved in the face of any and all stimuli, is to reinforce the illusion of a separate, distinct self--the very definition of ego.

Instead, I like to think that when we have a response to the people in our lives, it is the same as my heart speeding up because my legs are running, or a tree's leaves drying out because there aren't enough water around its roots-- or a mudslide occurring because an area was clearcut.

There is definitely a balancing act in seeing this interconnectedness while also releasing blame of others. I certainly have not mastered it, and believe I will work on it for the rest of my life. However I find it highly preferable to trying to pretend that I can somehow ignore my feelings about what others are doing and all that is going on in my life if I simply chastise myself to stop being co-dependent. In fact, the irony is that the more I attune with the energy of interdependence, the more inner resources I have to be independent at times.

If you would like to explore this growing edge of being a human with me, I invite you to come to my workshop this Sunday, at the Living Light Studio, 2155 Park Ave, Chico, CA, from 2-4:30pm. Whether you attend or not, I invite you to comment below on what this article did for you or how you relate to the concepts of interdependence and oneness.

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