The Do Over!

 
 

IMAGINING HOW I COULD HAVE RESPONDED FROM MY HEART IN A CHALLENGING SITUATION

Recently I had one of those experiences ~ perhaps you’re familiar it ~ the “I’d love to go back and do that over again and actually access the part of my brain that knows NVC!” experience.

Here’s the scene - I’m in the supermarket looking for Ginger Tea, just plain Ginger Tea and I’m not finding it. A clerk is restocking the shelves so I ask about plain Ginger Tea………..she offers several possibilities………Green Tea Ginger, Lemon Ginger, Chamomile Ginger. Each time I repeat that I’m searching for plain Ginger Tea!

The 3rd time I decline her offer, she says “well you can either stop being rude or look for it yourself!”……..I’m astonished and confused and what comes out of my mouth is “did you think I was being rude?”

She’s silent! The kind of “cut the air with a knife” silence my jackals are saying. I’m now triggered as well and an old program kicks in........I walk away!

It’s now 2 days later and I’m ready to consider how I might have done it differently……………..

So, what was going on with me? I was fatigued and wanting ease (in replenishing my Ginger Tea supply!)

What might have been going on with her? Maybe she’s frustrated, perhaps tired, not finding it as easy to contribute as she might have enjoyed…………just imagining that she wanted to contribute softens my heart! It is the softening in my heart that can guide what I could have said.

Suppose in the moment when she said “well you can either stop being rude or look for it yourself!” I could have taken a deep breath, accessed my resourcefulness and responded (rather than reacted).

Perhaps then what would come out of my mouth might have been something as simple as acknowledging her! How differently I would have come away from the interaction and just possibly her day would have gone a little easier as well! 

In addition, just the simple act of imagining how we might have behaved differently in a challenging situation supports the rewiring of our brains so that we're more likely to respond in a more life affirming way in the future. And that, for me, is a very reassuring, inspiring and encouraging thought! 

Anne Walton, CNVC Certified Trainer

The Perks of Taking Care of Ourselves!

     

Over the past few years, I've had some health challenges; in 2016 I spent a total of 7 days in hospital and I'm not even a big fan of Western Medicine! "What a bummer," I'd think, "Why is this happening to me?" I'd rail at the gods! 

These experiences with my health, "forced" me to slow down and gradually (very gradually) it dawned on me that there might just be a gift to this experience!!

This slowing down brought me a greater sense of compassion for others – since one of my experiences was pain, if someone seemed “irritable”, I’d get to wondering if perhaps they were in pain as well.

After some time, I began also to have more compassion for myself. I realized my body was yearning for more spaciousness, ease and relaxation. 

Since it was also clear to me how much I love sharing NVC, how could I continue to do so AND travel a lot less, set up classes that allowed me down time in my day, in short, take better care of myself?

Then I got inspired to begin offering video conferencing classes. So, over the course of this autumn, I've been offering an NVC mentoring series for folks who wanted to deepen their practice of NVC and share it with others. 

What an incredible blessing this has been! I feel so deeply nourished by my time with my "mentees" - the depth of connection, sharing, vulnerability is delightful for me to be part of. And I get to connect NVCers with other NVCers from various parts of the planet, folks who they might not ever connect with otherwise.

These amazing benefits are inspiring me to stay on track with taking it easier, slowing down and deeply nourishing myself. I'm celebrating the strides I'm making in that direction!!

Anne Walton, CNVC Certified Trainer  

Coming back to the Heart!

     

Over the past year, I've noticed how frequently I'm triggered by the man who is now the president of the United States..........I've had a very strong enemy image of him. 

From time to time I'd think how much more beneficial it would be to send him love and compassion and energetically give him empathy.  Then the jackals would say, in a sarcastic tone, "Well, that's a noble goal!" I just wasn't able (or willing?) to go there! 

I needed some major encouragement and inspiration and it came from an unexpected source...........

Recently I watched a documentary on a young Canadian man who spent 10 years in the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay. At 15, Omar Khadr was the youngest person ever to be sent there. 

One of the stories Omar shared about his time there was about a guard who was particularly cruel to him, Omar tried to imagine ways he could get even with the guard. After some contemplation, Omar realized that if this guard was causing him pain, the guard must be in pain himself! 

I was dumbstruck when I heard this...........imagine finding compassion for one's "tormentor" in circumstances of such profound duress, distress and pain! 

What a gift it was for me to hear this! If this young man, in such dire circumstances and a teenager at the time, could find it in his heart to have compassion for this man, perhaps I could find compassion in my heart!

Since then, I’ve been able to send love and compassion to the US president and to imagine being in his presence and offering him empathy. I'm not yet able to do this all the time and I'm celebrating the times that I can!

Thank you Omar for raising the bar and bringing me back to my heart!  Anne Walton, Aug 11, 2017

A Passion for NVC

I notice a tingly-ness around the edges of my eyes, the warmth of the tears running down my cheeks, a bursting sensation in my chest, a fluttering in my belly – it is summer 2004 in Calgary and it’s the first time I’ve been on the CNVC website! I’m taking in what’s written there and it’s touching my heart so deeply I’m in tears. And serendipitously it was incredibly similar to something I had written a few years previously about the kind of world we’d all like to live in.

This visit to the CNVC website came 3 years after I’d first heard of NVC. Over the course of those 3 years I’d travelled, each spring, to St Petersburg, Russia to presemt at the annual conference on Conflict Resolution. Each year someone at the conference would say something like “Anne check out NVC, you’ve got to see this guy Marshall Rosenberg in action, he’s masterful!”

My initial reaction was “well that’s not for me, it has the word violent in the name, besides I’m not violent!” Finally after the 3rd time of hearing the message, I went home and checked it out and right then and there, I vowed to myself that I would learn and teach this process.  

Over the course of many months, I searched the website for opportunities to learn NVC and set my heart on attending a 9 day residential training in California. Since I didn’t have the thousands of dollars for tuition, accommodation and travel, I summoned up my courage and sent out an email to friends asking if they’d support me in learning NVC. With astonishing ease I raised about $1000 – exciting and validating yes, hardly sufficient for the 9 day training!

Undeterred, I checked further on the CNVC website and learned that Marshall was going to be in Ottawa that fall (2005) offering a 3 day training. Again serendipitously the cost of the air fare plus the training happened to be almost the exact amount I had raised!  I had friends and family in Ottawa and was past due for a visit; everything was coming together!

The session with Marshall brought even more joy and commitment; I was so moved and inspired to hear his stories about his work in the Middle East, in Africa or in numerous other places on the planet. And his sense of humour, what fun!

So there I was 6 months later, standing in front of 15 people offering my first NVC workshop! The only thing that gave me the guts to stand up in front of this group of participants that day was my passion for NVC and my intense desire to connect with other NVCers in Calgary!

I was grateful for the hum of the heating system and the whir of the fridge in the kitchen next door, surely these background noises would keep participants from hearing the sound of my knees knocking, my heart beating wildly and the chatter in my mind – the voices inside my head about how I was doing it all wrong were so loud I was certain they were audible from the outside! Later when I poured over the feedback forms, the lines that popped out at me were those that reflected the jackal voices in my own head! Surely the “NVC police” would be after me any day now!

That was more than 10 years ago now and my journey with learning, teaching and living NVC has brought a depth of richness and joy to my life that I could not have imagined previously. I feel so blessed and grateful to be part of this NVC community. Thank you so very much Marshall Rosenberg for your wisdom, insight and courage!

 Anne Walton, CNVC Certified Trainer

To Boldly Go!

     

I love and appreciate how learning and living NVC is an ongoing process of deepening and integrating my understanding of this profound process.

Recently I’ve been contemplating requests and realizing that requests has 2 aspects to it – the asking and the receiving – I sense that for years I’ve been sort of OK with the asking part but when it came to receiving, that’s been much more challenging for me!

This challenge with receiving has really come to the fore front of my awareness this year and one way it’s been showing up is that attendance at my NVC sessions has really decreased. Given how much I love sharing NVC, I’ve found this distressing especially as it also impacts my flow of financial resources!

Recently, with the support of my NVC women’s group SAGE (Sharing Aging Gracefully and Exuberantly!), I was able to delve more deeply into this and acknowledge that I don’t value what I have to offer! On further exploration, this relates it to a life alienating belief about not being worthy of receiving love, support, money, participants attending workshops, you name it!

And I’m celebrating that shifts are taking place! This year I’ve had a number of experiences that allowed me to begin the process of opening to receiving love, support and acknowledgment, to really let it in.

One aspect of this adventure, which some of you may know, occurred in February when I spent 2 days in a hospital in California. Since the problem related to a pre-existing condition and I live in Canada, the bills which amounted to about $24,000 US were my responsibility. Given that I didn’t have even have a small percentage of that $24000 US, I spent some time just plain freaking out!!

Thanks to NVC, after a few days and lots of empathy, I thought of a strategy – I could raise the money thru crowd sourcing. A wonderful idea no doubt AND that meant I had to ask for help, YIKES!!  

It took me several weeks to muster up the courage to create a “Go Fund Me” campaign - I felt humiliated, embarrassed and vulnerable “what would people think of me??” the jackals were saying!

Finally I did it and not only did money flow, many tears flowed as well - I got to receive support in the form of love, prayers, healing energy AND money – people actually gave me money! I cried buckets full of tears just taking in that people do love and support me even financially!

I also asked the various medical organizations, which had contributed to my care, to give me a discount. As a result I got the bills down to about $4500 US and I raised enough thru Go Fund Me to fully pay the bills – what a celebration!

It would be fun to say that was the end of story…………..well there’s more on the path to receiving love, acknowledgment and appreciation……………

I’m part of the organizing team of an annual NVC conference which takes place north of LA, I usually offer some sessions and this year, at the end of one of my sessions, when some participants came up and offered me feedback, I asked them to email it to me. One person, Dan, did this very soon after the end of the conference. When I first received it, I perused it and told myself I’d get back to it “when I have the time!”

Now, 3 months later, I read it fully and cried reading what Dan had written – I have a deep sense of being “seen for who I am” and “gotten” in a really meaningful way. And everything he said, I have been able to get that about myself which is even more profound in terms of “taking it in”.

Today I saw an old Star Trek poster reminding us to “Boldly Go” – to boldly go where we have not gone before; this was Star Trek’s challenge and now it’s my challenge to you – is there something you’re longing to receive and are you willing to boldly go where you have not gone before, make a request and open yourself to receiving?

I look forward to hearing about your adventures with this!

With love and gratitude, Anne Walton

The Transformative Power of Being Heard!

     

Anne Walton, June 11/16 

In the past week I've had 2 very powerful experiences of what a difference it makes when we feel heard - the first was an interchange I had with a health care professional. In that instance I came away with a deep desire to be heard plus a sense of regret and embarrassment that I'd not been able to access my self-empowerment which may have led to me experiencing what I was yearning for!

The other instance was in a Staples store - my attention was first directed to the sounds of very loud screams coming from within the store - I looked over and saw that a conversation was going on between the customer and what I took to be a manager. I was about to leave the store when an inner prompting encouraged me to go over and see if I could be of assistance. 

The customer had come to pick up a cell phone charger she'd left there a few days before – she had called ahead and learned that it had been found. The manager said several times it wasn’t in the safe and that he couldn’t call all staff who’d been on duty to learn where it was. Each time he said this, she became more upset – her face was flushed, she was crying and speaking at a volume much greater than her usual speaking voice.

I said I'd like to help and then for while I stayed present, witnessing what was happening and giving silent empathy.  After a few minutes, the manager walked away and directed a staff member to call 911.

At that moment another manager arrived with the cell phone charger in his hand. He’d heard her screams and come to help. This manager listened in way that gave her the space to express all that had happened, from time to time, I added in some empathy. It was amazing to the see the shift in her as we listened.

At one point the first manager came back and she immediately got more upset: crying and saying “you just stood there and stared at me, why didn’t you help?”. He left after a few moments and once again calmed down and spoke at a usual volume.

What was interesting to me is that she was still really upset with the 1st manager even though she now had the charger in her hand. She shared even more about how stressful her life has been lately; I was really touched by how much insight she had into herself and how triggered she’d gotten.

 It was such a powerful reminder to me about what a difference we can make when we really feel heard!  

FORGIVENESS: THE PATH TO INNER PEACE…

Feb 4, 2014

Early this year, I marked my 71st birthday - when I turned 70, I had notice a reluctance to tell people how old I am. Previously I had freely shared my age with anyone. Now here I was in my 8th decade and clearly I was old and there wasn't much hope of me contributing in the way I imagined! 

Then I learned that Nelson Mandela was 71 when he was released from prison and look at all he accomplished in his remaining 24 years! Wow, what a paradigm shift - a completely different way to view something!

Co-incidentaly I had begun a daily forgiveness practice about a month prior to my birthday - I'm now on day 53, and each day I ask forgiveness from my children and myself, each day this stirs up so much grief that I cry and sob. Each day I release a small portion of 71 years of pain, shame and heartache and suddenly I realized that in doing so, I'm releasing myself from prison - a prison of my own creation, with the help of the society I grew up in. 

As I release myself from these decades of bonds and shackles of the past, I'm excited to be venturing out into the world - as when I was a child - full of curiousity, joy and love!

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In 1998 I spent 4 months driving around Canada and the US in search of labyrinths; it was a mystical journey during which I had many blessed experiences. On my journey I walked many labyrinths and had gotten into the practice of asking for guidance about my purpose on planet earth.

Even prior to this journey, I had become quite accustomed to something I called THE VOICE which guided me in my life. When the voice suggested something, I usually resisted strenuously at first then eventually I’d surrender and generally the outcome would be much more fabulous that anything I could have imagined. THE VOICE spoke to me a lot more frequently during that journey………

By mid September, I had made my way to a spot near Kansas City, Missouri where a woman has cut a labyrinth into native prairie grasses. The labyrinth is about 200 feet in diameter with a 14’ center. Walking the labyrinth as the sun was setting enhanced the whole sense of being enveloped and cradled in the warm sweet fragrance of the grasses which were now 7-8 feet high. I had walked enough labyrinths to recognize this as an incredibly powerful one.

That night it began to rain, a downpour which continued unabated for more than 24 hours. The rain deterred me from walking during my second day’s stay. So the following morning while meditating, I was quite surprised when THE VOICE told me to go and walk the labyrinth. I objected “but I don’t have any questions to ask” to which the voice responded “there’s something you need to do on the labyrinth”. My next objection was about prairie grasses being very wet given all the rain. Needless to say the voice’s response was that it might, therefore, be wise to wear appropriate attire! I knew from past experience that “resistance is futile” so off I set wearing my water sandals and rain suit.

The prairie grass was indeed very wet. As soon as I began walking I received further instructions………I was to allow the grasses to brush against me rather than moving them out of the way. I was told that I was here on the labyrinth to do forgiveness work. Words began rolling off my tongue and I began to cry “Gerry (the father of my children), I forgive you”, “Mum I forgive you”, “Dad, I forgive you”.

At this point THE VOICE interrupted; it seemed the phrase was “______, please forgive me for all the judgements I have made of you”.  And so I made my way through the labyrinth asking all the people in my life to forgive me. Very soon I was sobbing, my body racked with the release of 50+ years worth of held in judgements, grudges and resentments. Tears were now streaming down my cheeks and then down inside my rain suit. Raindrops from the prairie grasses and the clouds overhead were now running down inside my rain suit as well. The path is long in that labyrinth; the whole way was filled with “______, please forgive me for all the judgements I have made of you”.

When I finally arrived at the center, everything shifted: my list was complete, it stopped raining, I stopped crying, the sky began to lighten.  I looked up at the alter in the center of the labyrinth; there stood a huge geode studded with hundreds of amethyst crystals. Above the geode, gently draped across it was a particularly delicate branch of prairie grass. On every lacy tendril of this prairie grass hung a drop of rain……..thousands upon thousands of droplets of water now reflecting the light. It was a vision of great beauty and I stood amazed at this image. I proclaimed aloud “that is so beautiful” and THE VOICE said “and that is what you are and your work on planet Earth is to shine all that light inside you out into the world!”

I began sobbing again in my attempt to actually take this in! Thank you VOICE I said quietly!

Practical Neurobiology

     

Earlier this year I began studying Neurobiology and got completely fascinated and enthralled by the sheer magnitude of what our brains are capable of and how maleable they are. One day in late August I read 2 things which particularly impacted me: "each time we think a thought, we create a neural pathway" and "One reason we can change our brains simply by imagining is that, from a neuroscientific point of view, imagining an act and doing it are not as different as they sound"*.

I was stunned! At that time I was feeling particularly discouraged about my life and noticed how frequently I was thinking some version of the thought "I'm not OK"! Imagine the deep groove I was creating as, over and over, I thought the same thought!

An inspiration came to me: what if I used my imagination/visualizing abilities to change old, life alienated beliefs?

For several years now, I've had a morning visualization practice so I decided to add a new dimension to my daily routine. I began "seeing" limited beliefs, represented by the neural pathway, then sending light/love to it and noticng what happened to the pathway. Typically it begins to change and transform, sometimes I see my child self beginning in a constricted posture and then moving to a much more open and alive posture.  

This in itself is amazing to me, being able to "see" my neural pathways; what's even more amazing is that very soon, within a week or so, I began to notice I was responding differently to what previously would have stimulated anger or pain inside me. I was getting triggered less frequently with less intensity and much shorter "recovery" time.

As an example, I was in Best Buy, and had an experience that was so different from the past that I cried when I came out of the store! I had gone online to search for a recording device for an iphone (I wanted a better quality sound than with the built in mike). I found a product that plugged into the phone. When I got to Best Buy, I asked the salesman if they had this product, he responded that he'd never heard of such a thing!

In the past I would have immediately gone into jackal thinking "he thinks I don't know what I'm talking about, he thinks I'm stupid, he thinks he knows better than me" etc. This time I didn't go there! I told him that I'd found it on their website but that first I'd found it on Walmart's website and suggested we look. We found it and he was really appreciative about learning something new! I was blown away by how differently I responded and that I changed my behaviour without any conscious intent.  Ah, the sweet joy of unconscious competence!

If you'd like to learn more or make an apt for a session, please contact me at 805 687 6961, 403 926 0242 or  annewalton43@gmail.com

I look forward to connecting with you! Anne