By Susan Clarke
Susan leads Come Alive with Carole Ames and Couples Alive I with her partner CrisMarie Campbell. The Haven Communication Model is a central component of both programs.
A few years back, I was down in the San Francisco area taking a program called Transformational Lessons. I was there with about 40 or 50 other folks. We started with introductions where we were asked to share our spiritual practice. I listened as each person spoke about a yoga practice, meditation/prayer or mantra and/or some guru or Ashram where they were currently studying or regularly attending. I wondered as my turn arrived what I was going to say.
I couldn’t really relate to the question nor did I have any idea of an answer. At that time I was not at all interested in yoga (too tight for that) and I sort believed chatting, meditation and Ashrams were all about transcending this human experience and I wasn’t interested in that.
However, I did consider myself a spiritual person. Finally as my turn arrived I spoke about the one practice that I believed transformed my life and has regularly provided me a pathway to the most spiritual experiences of my life – connecting with other people in a deep personal way and expanding my reality. The practice involves utilizing The Haven Communication Model.
When I mentioned my practice I could tell a few people did not understand how a communication model could be a spiritual practice. Since that day I have regularly referred to the model as a spiritual practice. These days I actually practice yoga, enjoy chatting and even regularly do some form of meditation. However, I still firmly believe the most spiritual experiences I have come from those times when I practice intimacy through open, honest, vulnerable communication – the essence of the Communication Model.
Almost thirty years ago I got introduced to The Model. Now after years of teaching it, practicing and using it in every relationship that matters to me, I still learn new things, discover deeper connection and expand my world through using this model.
Why? Because to practice the model authentically I have to fully own my judgments and whatever feelings I am generating. I have to take full responsibility for whatever experience I am creating or having. This requires discipline and can be hard. However, even more challenging at times is suspending my own ‘rightness’ about my views or opinions and listening with heart and curiosity to someone else. When done well there is an opening that takes me way beyond the limits of my human ego experience and provides a moment of loving that does remind me of the quote: ‘To love another person is to see the face of God”.
That to me defines a spiritual practice. An experience that allows me to see the face of God. Something that I will likely never fully master and will continue work on as a way to open doors and bridge differences that not only transforms my life but profoundly impacts the world around me.