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Getting Started with Mindfulness & Jackals

The foundation of Compassionate Communication (NVC) is mindfulness.  Awareness of what's happening and what's creating disconnect sets the stage for change.  Thus I continually encourage those wishing to transform the way they communicate and relate to have consistent meditation and mindfulness practices. These practices strengthen your ability to think, speak, and behave from your deepest values rather than from reaction to your own conditioning and interpretations of reality.

As you cultivate this mindfulness and begin to learn NVC, you may find yourself on a jackal* hunt. You catch yourself and others in judgment, blame, demands, evaluations, and "have to's".

At first, this is all you can do. You notice jackals and disconnect and watch as it escalates. As your mindfulness and skill evolve you are then able to notice disconnect and keep yourself from feeding it.

At this point you are standing on a precipice. You are ready to take a step out of the old way of relating into a whole new paradigm.

If you don't develop the skills and consciousness to step off the precipice into a new paradigm, you can get stuck in a jackal catching program.

You know just enough to catch yourself and others in the subtleties of violent communication. You find yourself saying things like, "That's not NVC!", "That's jackal talk.", "If you can't use NVC I won't talk to you.", "I know this is jackal, but...(more jackal)".

Taking that next step means catching the jackal and then releasing the feelings and needs it is always carrying.

With yourself you catch the jackal, preferably before you express it, and look for the feelings, needs, and requests that are behind the jackal and express those.

When others express in jackal, you work to hear the feelings and needs underneath. For example, "Hearing you say 'I should have been there', I'm guessing you feel disappointed and sad and would like support and caring?" Regardless of what someone is saying you are continually listening to the feelings and needs underneath.

So, the purpose of catching a jackal is not to catch a jackal. The purpose of catching a jackal is to release the universality of feelings and needs underneath thereby joining with the Beloved in yourself and the other.

*Jackal refers to any thinking, speaking, or behavior that creates disconnect from your heart and the hearts of others.

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2 Responses

  1. Feb 02, 2012
    Jean Mohr

    When I can hear my jackal speaking to me and I can remember to say to her/him something like, "Oh Sweetie, you really wish for some shared commitment here so you wouldn't feel like you had to do this all by yourself", or "you are just longing for some restful space and wish you didn't really need to do all those things on your list", I have more space in me from this self understanding
    My jackal is on my side, just needs empathy so to think of more helpful strategies.

  2. Feb 04, 2012
    Jacob Angel

    A word of caution, I mailed (a Hebrew translation of) this lesson to a friend of mine that responded in the "This is not NVC" style to a previous correspondence. She got offended since this lesson told her "saying 'this is not NVC' is not NVC" which is not NVC because it does exactly that. The caution is not to use the lesson to coerce someone else or yourself (or myself) to do NVC the "right" way. What it does make clear to me is that at any point, regardless of what had been so far, I have the power to make a change and not be reactive to content or style.

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