Perceptions

By Martha Marcom

From the window of our condo, I can see the new Downtown Hilton Hotel being built. The first thing visible was two toweringly high cranes. From my perspective, when these cranes swung around, they missed the Nationwide Building by mere inches.
Knowing that the Hilton was being squeezed onto a small footprint, I was floored when I did drive down High Street past the construction site, to see how far away from the Nationwide Building the cranes in fact were.

How often do I misjudge things? Often! And how much internal conversation and emotional response then ensues that was all based on erroneous perception?
How often to I misinterpret people? It is easy to misinterpret others’ motivations and pretty hard not to. How many times have we suffered from misunderstanding even those--perhaps especially those--who are near and dear?

This construction project is very tangible and concrete, and I was able to easily see my misperception. I had made an assumption based on what I saw: “Hilton & Nationwide must literally be working closely together on this!”

We make assumptions about the motivations of our family members, our coworkers, complete strangers we see, and people we know by reading about them or seeing them on newscasts. This is natural enough, we need a thesis to operate from; the mind loves to categorize and catalog things. But especially when this comes to our fellow human beings, how may of these assumptions and judgments are misjudgment, prejudice and unexamined reactions? How much do we know of our own motivations and how this is coloring our understanding?

Yoga helps! Yoga cleanses the organs of perception, the indrias. The clearer, the less clouded our senses become, the more we can trust what we see and our instincts. In addition, practicing yoga involves svadyaya, self study. As we come to know ourselves, we develop a more balanced understanding of the human psyche and our own role in relationships.

We also learn what is true by testing reality. Non-Violent Communication, NVC, has a protocol for this: when confronted with a confusing reaction from someone, you venture a guess as to what the other person is feeling. From their response to your suggestion, you can begin to see what this person is truly feeling, and from there, you can look deeper to find what they might need. For example, you could say, “Are you feeling confused because we weren’t given sufficient information to complete this work?” or “Are you feeling worried about the timeline?” This technique has the potential to create a beautiful human connection that is authentic and functional.

If you are interested in learning more about NVC, you might begin with Marshall Rosenberg’s book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. We are blessed in Columbus with a lively NVC community, CCCO, Compassionate Communication of Central Ohio. Here is a link to their website:
http://www.nvcohio.org/

May our practices support our understanding of ourselves and each other and may they increase peace in the world!

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