When I was a young Psychiatric Aide on a Locked Psychiatric unit in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I had a very good friend, also a Psychiatric Aide, who was a master at the practice of the Japanese Martial Art of Aikido. He was superb at handling any physical attack, without injury to himself and with the least degree of injury to others.
Here is an example:
A young man who had stopped taking his antipsychotic medicine began to lose control of his thinking and behavior, his touch with reality was slipping away and he thought he was being attacked. My friend asked him to go into the quiet room (a padded room that protects the individual from hurting himself and others when out of control). The patient felt attacked by my gentle friend’s request, he became enraged and began to throw at my friend any thing that his hand touched – chairs, tables, lamps – my friend simply and easily shifted the energy of each piece of furniture and dropped it beside him, protecting the other patients and deflecting the negative energy, lightly and firmly moving toward the out of control young man. His movements were gentle, clarified, and precise – lightly deflecting the energy while deftly responding to the needs of the entire room. Once he entered the physical space of the out of control young man he quickly and without harm immobilized his flailing arms, and with kindness and gentleness he walked him to the quiet room.
His precision at shifting the energy of the flying furniture had the effect of de-escalating the damage in the situation to himself, the out of control patient, and the other patients. It created a sense of calm and control that was soothing. It brought everything to a neutral space so that injury was avoided.
The art of verbal Aikido is a metaphor for utilizing the same strategies in handling verbal attack. The majority of miscommunication and arguments are a result of charged interpretation of other’s dialogue, where another person interprets your statements as barbs thrown and so reacts defensively, or vice versa.
Responding to another’s attack via mindfulness increases your neutrality and clarity in what underlies the negative communication. Simply deflecting the negative statement and deflating the negative energy to shift the interaction.
Practicing the Art of Verbal Aikido has three steps:
- First, deflect the negative tone, and tenor, by simply responding to the actual content with neutral responsive content.
- Second, deflate the negativity by reiterating your intended meaning through clarification and compassionate interest in how your communication was interpreted. Then clarify the intended meaning and take responsibility for not being more clear in your first communication.
- Third, if the communication escalates, continue with steps 2, and 3, with a gentle, kind, precise and light manner – avoid sarcasm, condescension and a down-putting tone.
Then you are free to find a solution or agree to disagree without malice or charge.
You only have power over your own actions. You cannot change another person’s attitude, position or behavior, you can only offer a space for another to shift his perspective on his own. You have control over your own actions, behaviors and attitudes, responses. If the other person chooses to find you offensive and react defensively, you have power to maintain your mindfulness.
The most mindful and loving response in a situation where another is angry is to not take on his anger, not react to it and join-in, on the negative interpretation, the fighting back or proving argumentative tone or attitude.
Create a visual image of yourself lightly deflecting the flying furniture and placing it on the ground; or an image of another’s charged words as sufficiently solid that you can observe yourself deflecting them or moving your energy so you are not hit by the negative barb in the words. Think of a Jackie Chan movie, see yourself in slow motion deftly avoiding what is thrown your way, while simultaneously smiling and gently reaching out an olive branch toward connection and understanding.
This is the practice of verbal Aikido and it will increase the level of peace you experience in your relationships.
It is the most healing response to conflicting perspectives and offers a direct pathway to uplevel consciousness. in love and light,bg
November 29, 2012 at 6:38 am
This is wonderful. And I would have loved to see your friend the aikido master in action!
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January 12, 2014 at 4:00 am
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