Book Excerpt

The Core Exercise: Openhearted Interaction
“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.”
—Carl Jung

Before I break down the different aspects of this process, I will introduce an exercise that sums up the whole practice. It is very simple, but within it is contained all the wisdom and power of Respectful Confrontation. If you can master this oneexercise, then you have achieved thean important goal that will leads to personal freedom, fulfillment, and empowered, collaborative engagement. Exercicses, like this one, which open you to deeper levels of self-awareness, can change the quality of your life in a powerful and beneficial way. Read it through a couple of times before you actually continue with the rest of the practice.

Choose a good time and location.
Do this exercise when you are alone or around people who can respect your need for focus and silence. Find a place to do this where there is enough space around you.

Start with the basic sitting pose.
Sit in a comfortable way. Your spine should be vertical and relaxed (either sitting on a pillow on the floor with legs crossed or sitting at the edge of a chair with feet flat on the floor); your breath should be relaxed, steady, and deep; your eyes closed or partially closed, looking down towards the ground; your shoulders and jaw relaxed,; and your hands resting on your knees or in your lap.

Bring your attention to your center.
Take a moment to imagine a spot that is about three finger- widths below your navel, somewhere in the center of your lower belly. Try to see this point with your mind’s eye and focus on it for a period of time.

Place all of your attention on your breath.
From your center become aware of your breath. This simple task helps you to come more into alignment with yourself and to come more into the present. There is no need to change your breath. Simply notice it.

Become aware of your physical body.
From your center, what sensations are you aware of from your center?? Exhaustion? Hunger? Tension? Pleasure?  There’s no need to change anything. All sensations, even the unpleasant ones, are welcome.

Become aware of your emotional body.
What emotions are you aware of from your center, what emotions are you aware of? Excitement? Fear? Boredom? Joy? Anger? Sorrow? All feelings are welcome, even the ones that are often seen as unpleasant. There is no need to fix them or do anything with them.

Become aware of your mental body.
From your center, what thoughts are most present right now? Are your thoughts open and expansive or ? Tight and judgmental? Don’t try to control your thoughts; let them flow by.

Become aware of your surroundings.
From your center, become aware of the space that you are in right now. Keep your eyes closed. What do you notice? Sounds? Air temperature? Smells? Can you feel furniture or movement? If you are outside, do you feel the trees, the wind? Place yourself in this space, in this context, at this moment. What is your relationship with this space? Let yourself be influenced by your surroundings.

Become aware of others.
Now focus on your heart or the middle of your chest. From that place, notice how connected you feel to something larger than you, to the very essence that unites all beings and, all phenomena. You may not feel much connection or you may feel a lot. Don’t judge your connection, simply notice  how it makes you feelit.

Now see if you can sense how connected you feel right now to all beings on this planet. Understand that this connection changes from moment to moment. How connected are you to your loved ones and those you know and feel close to in life? How connected in your heart do you feel to strangers and possible adversaries? Now notice how all of these connections influence you at this moment.

If you are doing this exercise in a space with other people, try opening your awareness to the others in the room. Keep your eyes closed and see if it is possible to connect with the others who are present. Not with touch or sounds but simply with your awareness. How does that feel?

Draw this feeling this  into your heart with some deep breaths.
With a stronger connection to yourself, to your surroundings, and to others, take a couple of big, deep breaths and give yourself permission to feel this experience. Feel it in your heart. Let yourself experience whatever comes up.

Slowly open your eyes and connect with your surroundings and others.
Keep breathing, open your eyes, and continue to feel your connection with yourself, your surroundings, and with others. Whether you are doing this on your own or with a group, become aware of the feelings and reactions that arise. You may want to laugh. Good, do it. You may feel fear or excitement or sadness. Great. Let yourself feel it.

If you are doing this exercise with others around you, seek out eye contact. Try to stay connected withto anyone you make eye contact with for a moment. Really notice what happens when if you make a heart connection with this person. Ask yourself: how am I impacting this person at this moment and how are they impacting me?

Notice that you may want to put up a mask or censor your feelings. Try to avoid that behavior and to stay as openhearted as you were when your eyes were closed. If this makes you nervous or uncomfortable, or, if you feel resistance, then give yourself the space to feel that reaction.

Shake out and stretch your legs.
Stretch and shake out any tension you have acquired. You may not be doing a lot of movement, but theis exercise requires a lot of exertion and energy.

Make notes on what you have discovered.

In order to see your progress and learn from this practice, make some notes. Don’t judge yourself, justbut evaluate. Write down how it went and what happened. Did you learn anything new? Did you come across a new challenge? Are you seeing yourself in a new way? Make a note about how you will approach the exercise next time around.

Follow the recommended schedule.
In the beginning you should give yourself fifteen to thirty minutes for this exercise. Start with doing it at least three times a week. As you get more familiar with it, you will be able to do the whole exercise in five to fifteen minutes. You have perfected this exercise when you find that you are always walking through life with an openhearted connection and full awareness of your whole self, your surroundings, those around you, and the planet.

This exercise helps you to feel the power of openhearted connection and the benefits of being more aware of others, your surroundings, and even yourself, resulting in:
•    realizing your goals and creating a life of fulfillment and creative freedom.
•    deepening wisdom and tapping into your innate power.
•    having a bigger impact and more influence with others.
•    limiting misunderstandings and conflict and avoiding harm and hurting others.
•    heightening the ability to listen in order to generate more cooperation, respect, and understanding. This is the foundation of for true collaborative, empowered engagement. and generate more cooperation, respect, and understanding.

This exercise shines a light beam, piercing the confusion and darkness of communication, to support us on the path toward true freedom and true collaborative, empowered engagement. Now let’s put that light beam through a prism and look at all the refracted aspects that make up the practice and theory of Respectful Confrontation.