Too Busy to Communicate?
Even with the simplified lifestyle that we’ve chosen to adopt, my partner and I find that we’re sometimes too busy to communicate properly. Our exchanges become limited to the practical and logistic and this leaves us feeling disconnected and emotionally distant from each other. To add to that, when unconscious habits lead to friction, having little time to focus on each other makes it easier to just ignore the gripes and get on with tasks, rather than face the possibility of heated discussion.
Slowing Down to Free the Time
In a conscious relationship, one that prioritises awareness and mutually supported growth, the intentions of those involved include some very important aims around communication. To begin with, we agree to slow our individual lives down and reduce commitments outside the relationship in order to free up time to be fully present to each other. It also means assigning frequent time periods to working on’the relationship, not just in it. These commitments in themselves can inspire deeper communication. Truly honest and open relating of this kind calls for a willingness to experiment and to be vulnerable in each other’s presence and this is easier to do when we know that the other partner is equally committed to the process.
On one occasion when my partner and I realised that we’d dropped the ball in terms of straying away from our intentions to communicate openly and honestly in this way, I ventured the suggestion that we try using a form from The Way of Council, known as dyadic council – literally Way of Council for couples.
Practicalities of Dyadic Council
As with many excellent ideas, the principles of dyadic council are very straightforward. Firstly, we use a talking piece. This is an object, anything that can be easily handheld and passed between the partners. We decided to use a porridge spurtle. (A spurtle is used for getting the lumps out of porridge – we thought it might encourage us to deal with the lumpiness of our communications!)
The idea is that we take it in turns to hold the spurtle/talking piece. Whoever is holding may speak. The other person listens, without responding verbally until the talking piece is passed to them. Secondly, there are 4 guidelines, known as the 4 intentions:
- To speak from the heart – This is about expressing our truth in the moment, from a place of honesty and openness.
- To listen from the heart – Listening deeply, to what’s between and behind the words as well as the words themselves, to tone of voice and the energy and emotions expressed.
- To speak with lean expression – This is about keeping it short and sweet, to aim to be concise and to the point.
- To speak spontaneously – What we’ve found is that when someone else has the talking piece, it can be all too easy to start rehearsing what we’re going to say in response and that this detracts from deep listening. So speaking spontaneously means not even thinking about what we’re going to say until we’ve got the spurtle in our hands, and then, of course, to speak from what’s arising in our hearts in the moment.
There are some wonderful benefits that arise from simply introducing a talking piece into a conversation and from following the 4 intentions.
Benefits of using a talking piece.
1. Slows the conversation down – each person has to wait their turn to speak.
2. Reactions have space and time to be witnessed (internally and externally) and reduce in heat before being expressed.
Benefits of the 4 Intentions
Speaking from the heart: Calls us to get in touch with what really matters to us, our deeply felt human needs (rather than our superficial wants); heightens awareness of honesty; cuts through reactionary responses to access the deeper truth beneath our conditioning.
Listening from the heart: Broader, deeper understanding of how the other is feeling, what they’re experiencing, what’s important to them, their values and concerns; listening between the words triggers compassion; greater feelings of connection ensue; also feelings of support, not only from the other (beloved) but also from the co-created energy in the relationship and in that particular dyad.
Lean Expression: Attention paid to most important points and issues; also to focus on modes of expression; consideration given to the other in how what is expressed might be received; reduced distractions and divergencies.
Spontaneity: Fosters honesty, trust in ourselves, the process and the co-created energy of the dyad; sounds more truthful and credible to the other than something rehearsed; leads to increased appreciation and respect.
As a result of our first experiments of using dyadic council for important conversations we decided to adopt it as a preferred method for ‘slow chats’ – those where we need to talk through deeper or more challenging issues in our relationship.
If you’re sincere about growing through conscious relationships, I encourage you to explore this territory with your loved ones using dyadic council. A simple reminder might be to use a talking piece for talking peace.