Why practicing? Why training empathy?

by Mona Kino – June 2017

These are the most asked questions among others I come across. As I did today with a client.
Since I found my own answer, I am trying to avoid giving others an answer – instead I am interested and curious what their answer will be. In the past I oftentimes tried to explain and sometimes lecture – to convince others by listing up the benefits for body, mind and soul. But thinking of a quote I once read: seven billion people, seven billion perspectives – I trained myself thinking of this in a conversation and staying open to an additional answer.

Interestingly almost always I am meeting rejection towards my curiosity.

We are well trained in not being specific about what we really think or want. Mostly it seems dangerous to us and we are afraid to loose contact to the ones we are living or working with. Surely we are vulnerable when we say what we think or want. And surely it can be proven different then we expect it to be. One of the basic conflicts of us humans is that we tend to give up our integrity – to stand for ourselves – and choose to be valuable for others first, since we needed to chose that when we were kids and being dependent in our family-systems to survive.

I have to choose being valuable for the wellbeing of my kids many times. But since I am aware of that I am taking a choice – I am not depressing my integrity´s needs any more for my personal development. Instead I choose to say, yes, that´s how it is now and I promise myself to return to the impulse of my integrity´s needs later. It is not so much about acting out an impulse instantly, but to become aware of it and taking care of it five, ten or sixty minutes later. Even a day. Getting back to it proofs trust in your own sources in the long run – and stability in our sources in challenging situations. Like I once experienced: Everything up to that point went so wrong that day and of course I was in a hurry for a business appointment, too. But when the car broke down next in the middle of the lane during rush hour, everyone´s yelling and honking I sat there and said to one of the honking ladies: Honestly, this is the best I can do now.

My client was still resistant in finding his answer and I asked him: „What is bothering you?“ „If a day would have a twenty-six hours, sure I trained. Anything and empathy. But my day is already fully packed. Getting up, getting kids to kindergarten or school, getting to work, doing work everyone is avoiding to do, doing workout sometimes, shopping, picking kids up again, washing dishes, cleaning kitchen, calling parents, making dinner and so on… I even hardly have some time to meet some friends…“

I sometimes still fail in not giving answers, and I did so today again. But fully conscious. „I, know“, I said, „ What would you say if I tell you, that you have time?“ „Why is that?“ „We are training twenty-four hours a day. But we need to make a choice what we want to train: Things we already can do best or things we want to be more experienced with.“
He laughed, „Uuuharg, you just hit the nail. Tomorrow, first thing I do train, is putting the work everyone is avoiding to do back on their desks.“

An impulse training exercise:

Put a 5 to 10 minutes music piece you like in your mp3 or stereo –

Lay down on a mat or carpet.

Feel your whole body from feet, legs, back, front, hands, arms up to your head.

Then start to pay attention to your impulses.

Where in your body do you feel the impulse to move?

And again. Where do you feel the next impulse to move?
Move again.

Repeat paying attention to the next impulse until you are in a standing position when the piece of music ends.

It never matter´s how it looks like –

If you are practicing the exercise with somebody or in a group sit together afterwards tow by two and tell and listen actively each other what you became aware of while doing the exercise. Actively listening means one is talking the other one is just listening and not making any comments. 2-4 Minutes for per participant are sufficient.

Editing by Kerstin Schöps

Illustrated by Gesine Grotrian