Welcome To My Blog

The Art of Fine Metalwork and the Art of Empathy and Nonviolent Communication- woven together for you....

Sunday, October 21, 2012

An absolute MUST SEE to anyone who is interested in compassion and empathy and connection...

I'd love to hear how it touched YOU

With Love Yael

Friday, September 28, 2012

Cause for celebration?

I just read this from Pema Chodron: (just looking at her sweet face makes me feel better...)

"In Buddhism we call the notion of a fixed identity “ego clinging.” It’s how we try to put solid ground under our feet in an ever-shifting world. Meditation practice starts to erode that fixed identity. As you sit, you begin to see yourself with more clarity, and you notice how attached you are to your opinions about yourself. Often the first blow to the fixed identity is precipitated by a crisis. When things fall apart in your life, you feel as if your whole world is crumbling. But actually it’s your fixed identity that’s crumbling. And as Chögyam Trungpa used to tell us, that’s cause for celebration."

It was perfectly timed for me, because this morning I woke up in a completely different mood, in direct opposition to how I felt yesterday - feeling panicky, disliking myself, with so much negative self talk... Obviously, these are the moments when it's hard to implement all the teachings, the meditation the Nonviolent Communication, Mindfulness , The Work, years of therapy - everything seems to crumble, as she puts it. If I would say the things I say to myself to someone else they would be out of here in a second!
 A friend commented: Maybe that's just how you are- with moods swinging back and forth?

Suddenly a voice inside says, so what are you getting from all this? Just let yourself BE for heaven's sake. Maybe there is nowhere I HAVE to be or things I MUST achieve...let things BE as they are. 

So I'm back to taking it, moment by moment - gently, somewhat more compassionately, with myself...

Saturday, September 15, 2012

An Eye for an Eye...

Yesterday I got a call from a mother of one of my son's classmates. She told me that my son Tom had verbally insulted her son and had made derogatory comments about his parents, their home, and him. 
She was hurt particularly because they had always welcomed him into their home and he had spent a good few hours there. Though she did acknowledge that her son is not exactly an angel, I sensed that she was taking it personally.

I listened quietly, thanked her for telling me and promised I would talk to him.

"What happened?" I asked.
" He and I are always fighting" he answered "but this time I really got upset because he called my sister fat, and if someone insults my family, I'll let him have it!"
" So you really got upset, didn't you?" 

And then Mahatma Ghandi came to mind.
" Do you know what 'an eye for an eye' means?" He had never heard of it, well he's barely thirteen...

Supposedly somewhere in the Bible it is said that if someone hurts you, you must return in the same manner. I explained to Tom that this strategy has left many people dead and suffering throughout history.
 As Mahatma Ghandi put it: " An eye for an eye keeps the whole world blind"

I said, " Just because he said awful things to you, doesn't mean that you have to stoop down to his level. After all, why do people do things like that? He must have been bored, or wanting attention - and it's sad that he has to behave that way"

"So what could I do?" 
" Just walk away..."

I could see that he was beginning to get it and I left the matter. It leaves me wondering where he got the notion that he has to "get back at him?"

On the eve of the Jewish New Year I pray that all human beings and animals will live in Peace on this planet, and find different strategies to fill their needs.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Empathy - why didn't I think of it first?

Hands Offer by Elizabeth Bunsen (with permission)

Two sentences of Empathy make a difference

My daughter was upset. She was about to go to an amusement park with friends, as part of the annual beginning of the school year treat. Suddenly she realized that I'm not joining..
"What?" she exclaimed - " I need you! I need a parent!"
I said  "Yasmin! Why? You're almost thirteen and you are going with people you know and it's a closed event- what's the problem?"
"But I need you!"
"I don't think any other parents are coming and what will I do there for so many hours? None of the other kids are dragging their parents along..."
"Well I'm not the other kids!" ( I love when she says that- so true)

Tones started rising high...
"I need you Mama!"
" I didn't get a ticket because I was sure you wouldn't want me there!"
"What if something happens ?!"

And so on and so forth for a few moments. I'm at a loss and frantically begin thinking of solutions...

And then I remembered Empathy. After all, I'm teaching it...

I said: " You just really want to feel safe, don't you?"
"I guess..."
"And you'd feel much more assured if I was there"

And that was all I said.

A few minutes later
" Mom, that's OK, you don't need to come, I'll be fine."

So simple- why didn't I think of it first?

Not as a way to get things "over with" or manipulate a situation
Just a simple offering of understanding...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ripe For Peace

The day before yesterday I returned from another Nonviolent Communication Camp In the Judean desert, devoted to bringing together and bridging between Israeli, Palestinan and International women and teenage girls. My role was to facilitate the youngsters group.

This gathering was much smaller - which made for more intimate connection between all of us.

What was also different for me was that this time my daughter Yasmin, aged 12, joined. I was anxious to see how she would manage, how she would "survive" without her laptop, and if in general she would be able to connect with the other girls.  There were two other Jewish girls and three 14 year old Palestinian girls from East Jerusalem, from the American School. It was pure fun and inspiring to see just how quickly and naturally they all made contact.

And how did they do this? Through music, international music...namely Adele! They stood there , the six of them, and Sang "Rolling in the Deep" at the top of their lungs in the middle of the desert! My only regret is that I wasn't quick enough to film it...it was soooooo beautiful! 

Once they had made that connection...they were off! Chatting about Facebook, music, school, Ipads - what they like to eat, etcetera. Of course, because these were all girls, who are fortunate to be able to speak fluent English, the bridge wasn't that hard to build. 

There were two  poignant and touching moments, for me. One was when we are all of us, sitting in a circle- introducing who we are and why we came to the gathering. An Israeli woman told us that she had lost her eldest son in the Second Lebanon War. She said: " I came here because I don't want to see anymore mother's  suffer, I want war to end, this madness to end, I believe there is only way- that we will talk to each other, meet each other - "   we all wept. 
Immediately after her a young woman from Bethlehem said: " Why do we need all these identities? Palestinian, Israeli, religious, secular - can't we just all accept that we are all the same?

The other moment was when my daughter sat with one of the Arab girls and said: " I must admit, that until today, the only thing I ever knew of Palestinians was from what I saw on TV watching the news with my grandmother, and it never looked good. And here we are, I see you are exactly like me!"

I believe deep in my heart that the ONLY level on which lasting peace can be made is on the level of meetings, one-on-one. This may take time, but maybe not as long as some may think. I think the world is ripe for a change, is evolving in this direction, and the powers that drag us into war are losing their hold on people.

 In the words of Yoko Ono Lennon: "A dream you dream alone is just a dream- a dream you dream together is a reality"

May all beings live in Peace - may all beings be Happy.

Monday, May 7, 2012

10 Things I know to be True. Right Now

Tom Yasmin and I in 2007

 I love my kids.

 Kids are teachers.

 War is a reality.

 So is Peace.

 Bananas taste good.

 My feet ache.

 Loving myself makes me happy.

 Hating myself makes me learn.

 Growing up sucks.

 Even when I'm tired, "I don't wanna, I don't wanna go to sleep!" and regret it the next morning.

What are the ten things YOU know to be true? 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

No Man (or Woman) is An Island

I am off to a retreat tomorrow of Israeli Palestinian and international women outside of Jericho, to learn and practice together the model known as Nonviolent Communication.  This is actually the ground in which I have been gestating in and am beginning to sprout from, these last almost 10 years. I teach NVC (short for nonviolent communication) and yes, Empathy is the heart of this model.

You can read more online on www.cnvc.org but basically what we are encouraging and inspiring people to, is a shift to a feelings and needs based communication, rather than what we were educated (most of us) on: communication from the head, judgments analysis, interpretations and getting people to do what we want from a place of shame/guilt/fear of punishment.

Practicing Empathy helps us, no matter what the other person is saying, to listen to what’s in his/her heart. This requires a presence, a silencing (temporarily) of what’s going on in us, in order to create a space for the other. When a person feels heard and understood what often happens is that they come to a solution for their problem and they develop a deeper understanding and awareness of themselves.

Also, when a person has had a chance to be heard - he or she is now more open to hearing and responding to what is going on in us. And then a dialogue begins. A deeper connection is created. As Marshall Rosenberg, the creator of NVC puts it. “When there exists a certain quality of connection, the solutions find us” (and not the other way around.(-:). So it’s an energetic opening, perhaps a spiritual one, grounded in a compassionate relationship.

Connection, conection, connection. Is there a being on this planet, who doesn’t yearn for it?

As the 16th century poet, John Donne put it: “ No man is an island”

I invite you to learn NVC, for more connection and a more empathic and peaceful world.

I offer one on one trainings and single consultations, presentations and workshops for groups.
I can be contacted at yael.brisker@ gmail.com or on Twitter - @yaelbrisker and on Facebook where I have a  page devoted to Empathy called  Empathic Connections

With Love

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A reason for being

Just came back from giving a presentation on Nonviolent Communication. Feeling high and happy, and as one friend put it "nourished" for the next couple of days at least!

One woman's feedback was, I can see and feel how important it is for you to pass this on...

And indeed, I feel so passionate about it. Maybe because I am, like a friend in England once said :"Just an old Hippy" ( I was 24 at the time)...which I guess means I am a product of the 60's - growing up in the States in those years must have had a an effect on me.

Or is it the fact that Marshall Rosenberg, the man who formulated Nonviolent Communication, got his Doctorate in 1961 , the year I was born?

In any case- I feel this is my raison d'etre, as the French say, my reason for being. This year, is going to be the year where I will give as many presentations and workshops as I possibly can . I feel my breakthrough is near...

Time to go to sleep...sweet sleep