Effective Communication - Just connect
by Arun Wakhlu
progress lies in being able to see the play of interconnectedness around
us and connecting deeply with our body and mind, with other people and
One of my favorite pastimes as a management trainer and consultant is to connect disparate concepts to generate new ideas and insights. An exercise I often use in my workshops is based on writing poems through randomly connecting anything in the world to the theme of the poem. This process has shown me the power of making connections.
It was Goethe who once said: "Only make connections." Yoga , in India, also means connecting. It comes from the Sanskrit root 'yuj' which means 'to join'. Traditionally, it has been understood to mean a joining of individual self to the universal self. But this is one way of looking at it. If we think of yoga in it, most basic sense as meaning 'connecting', it suddenly throws up new ways of looking at this ancient system and its application to the world around us.
A look at our society today shows the proliferation of divisions and boundaries. Whether we look at our own nation or cast a look at others, we note a growing tendency towards fragmentation and division. This is happening between different religions, ethnic groups, economic blocks and also between the different regional, linguistic and cultural groups. Such fragmentation results in a tremendous waste of human energy and resources. Today's world seems to have been affected by three kinds of divisions: the division within each human being, the division between people, and the loss of connection or division between human beings and nature.
In each case we note a loss of connection. Such fragmentation can be made whole or healed through reestablishing connections.
CONNECTING WITHIN ONESELF
Each one of us can feel the conflicting tugs between our thoughts and actions. Real integrity would mean a unification between what we think, say and do. For this we need to be in touch with our minds, to look deeply within to know that our own prejudices, biases, conditioning and fragmentary thinking is the root source of all our external disintegration. All that a man achieves, and all that he fails to achieve, is the direct result of his own thoughts.
As he thinks, so he is: As he continues to think, so he remains. What is happening in the nation or the world is a manifestation of what happens inside the minds of people. Consider national integration, for example. The first move towards national integration is to get in touch with our own feelings, thoughts and actions and to see them clearly for what they are.
Are we brave enough to get in touch with the underlying greed, confusion and hypocrisy that often exists inside us? In such awareness is the first step towards integration initiated. If we turn our attention to our bodies, we note that ill-health happens when we lose touch with ourselves, I have met innumerable people who have lost touch with parts of their bodies.
These neglected zones of the body are almost alien to their owners. Like the old cupboard in the attic or the box tucked away somewhere, they hold not only dust, but forgotten treasures which could be put to use today. I am always delighted by the tremendous burst of energy and creativity that occurs, for example, when people begin to use the forgotten right hemispheres of their brain.
'Connecting within' also means being in touch with one's innermost core which is free of boundaries or divisions. In fact, the true meaning of 'religion' is 'bonding' or 'reconnecting' back to our silent origin. Can we connect with this creative and silent force at the heart of every human being? This is what true religiousness is all about.
This is the source from where we can draw nourishment for our own lives. This reconnection with the Being, our innermost self, is perhaps the most critical kind of integration that is needed today. A person begins to experience an illusory sense of limitation and helplessness when he feels cut off from the common center of all beings. He reels under a sense of 'not-okayness', and from this inner state, begins to act with blocked awareness. This sense of unease added to an absence of deep inner well-being and peace leads to violence—directed against ourselves, against other people, or against nature.
Can we cut at the very root of violence and reconnect ourselves to our loving core? Can we integrate with this beautiful silent center within and draw inspiration and nourishment from it? As the peace within unfolds, it is possible to recognize that all religions of the world are essentially one in their understanding of what is good for man. It is possible to regard each religion like a window which opens to the same sky.
While the windows are many and have different sizes and shapes, the sky towards which they all open out is One. This form of integration can be enhanced by people who are actually seeing the 'sky' from their own respective windows. They can come together in spirit and mind, and jointly and clearly express the vision of a unified understanding of human good. This, in turn, would enrich and nourish the various religious streams.
• Connect with your inner core of being and love through regular meditation. Be your real self beyond all illusions.
• Become aware of your strengths, aptitudes and motivated skills so that your work (expressing from these) becomes love in action.
• Watch your mind! Connect with your feelings, beliefs and assumptions. Learn to transcend and transform them.
• Connect with the still small voice within. Listen to the prompting of your own inner guru.
• Connect with forgotten parts of your body-mind. Bring conscious attention to all parts.
• Link up your thoughts, words and actions into one magnified whole. This is integrity.
CONNECTING WITH OTHER PEOPLE
In one of the exercises at my workshops, all participants stand in a circle and look at the distance between each other. Then we all move towards the center and, observe that the distance between us has decreased. Indeed, we need to draw closer to people mentally, emotionally and spiritually for boundaries to disappear. This is true communion.
As the Upanishads say: "When I see yourself as myself and I myself as yourself; we lose all fear." Fear is the opposite of love. Fear separates, love joins. When I relate to other people, can I remember that behind our bodies, experiences, memories, feelings and beliefs is a divine essence which is the same?
While our uniqueness adds to the glorious diversity of nature, we are intrinsically and completely one. When I remember that the same divine core which is my own self is also the other's self, how can I hurt the other person? My favorite greeting is the namaskar wherein joining my hands together, I symbolically express this truth.
You and I are one and I bow to that divine principle, Connecting with other people also means: open and authentic communication, listening deeply and transcending the webs and imaginings of my own, mind, respectfully accepting others in spite of differing feelings and viewpoints. It also means entering into a relationship with a spirit of dialogue in which we say: "Let us join hands and walk together to discover what is true".
This is in sharp contrast to the spirit of debate, which separates us with the idea of proving who is right.
• Reach out to others in a spirit of dialogue with love in your heart.
• See your own deepest Self in others and remember, all are intrinsically divine.
RECONNECTING WITH NATURE
When was the last time you walked in the first monsoon rain and smelt the fresh fragrance arise from the wet earth? When did you last hug a tree or let your body fall onto the soft humus-covered floor of a forest? Living as we do in concrete jungles and crowded cities, we have lost our connection with the rhythms, sights, smells and tastes of nature.
We are intrinsically connected with all this. The 50 liters or more of water which makes up your body right now was probably part of a subterranean stream, or a lake or some clouds floating over mountains. All that makes up the rest of the body comes from plants, animals, vegetables and, even other bodies.
At least a few molecules of oxygen that you breathed in today were breathed by Buddha and Jesus during their lifetime! Isn't all of existence a dance of interdependence? If we can see these connections, and actively work to make them happen in a natural and easy way, we would move towards a more wholesome life.
• Hug a tree.
• Feel your oneness with the sky.
• Get your feet wet.
• Go to parks and forests and sit silently communing with nature.
• See all of nature and existence as your guru.
The super-flexible device which helps us connect is awareness. As boundaries fade away and barriers dissolve, freedom unfolds. Connecting opens up manifold possibilities. It moves one from fear to love, from separation to oneness and from fragmentation to the whole. One moves towards healing as one connects. From separate isolated islands we connect with existence and eventually become existence. This is the true meaning and purpose of yoga.
The author is a Pune-based consultant and trainer in human development
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