Present Moment Dialogue: A Closer Look at Intention and Invitation

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We are all familiar with dialogue – or so we think we are – until we enter into the process called Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy. When many of us think of yoga therapy, we invariably focus on the yoga aspect of the work. Yet, while yoga and movement are vital elements, dialogue is what we use in Phoenix Rising to weave together all the elements that form this kind of yoga therapy. Even though the words themselves are common and often very simple, Phoenix Rising dialogue is complex and rich. This dialogue supports awareness and invites the potential for change.

Words in a Phoenix Rising session give depth and breadth to our perception of the other person, and this holds true for both practitioner and client. Dialogue complements the nonverbal cues we attend to in each other’s facial expression, breath, and body movements. So when beginning a Phoenix Rising yoga therapy session, we welcome the client into this work by already using dialogue tools that both invite him into the experience and educate him about how to receive this work. There is

purposeful engagement in the words we choose. It is never so much about giving the client instructions to follow as it is about supporting him to take a closer look, to appreciate the possibility of what this session may mean for him.

It’s important to note that silence is also incorporated into what we give back to the client in our dialogue. If it were not for the space between words, much would be lost in how we understand what is spoken. In a Phoenix Rising session, the use of silence carries weight as do all other offerings. Silent space reflects the kind of whole body listening that a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy practitioner provides his client throughout the session and is in itself a form of dialogue.1

So words and silence are what we use to facilitate the client’s present moment awareness of what is happening as his body is moved in and out of postures. Words can point to what is being noticed in that present moment.  Words can also extend the offer to look closer, to explore what is beneath the surface of the current noticing. Most important is that the practitioner refrain from manipulating the dialogue to support his personal idea of what should be happening for the client. Instead it’s vital to keep it focused to allow the client to bring his own innate wisdom to identify and evaluate what he’s noticed. The dialogue then takes on the essence of a conversation the client is having with himself.

This is done by speaking from intention. We can use dialogue for beginnings and endings, to gather or provide information, to facilitate exploration on the surface or in the multitude of layers underneath, to navigate transitions from one part of the session to another, and to offer a mirror in which the client can witness himself. Intention is the driving force that enables each of these to happen.

The questions we often use ­– like “What’s happening now?” and “Tell me more” – are not commanding or probing, but offered as invitations. Then what we have is intention combined with invitation: a perfect combination. Simple but powerful tools. Like all other tools and techniques in Phoenix Rising, these invitations arise from clear intention. They are not random queries. They are weighted and purposeful and, at the same time, open to whatever may be revealed by the client.

One basic intention in asking “What’s happening now?” is to bring the client’s focus to the present moment, pointing to the current bodymind experience, asking that it be brought into awareness. The question invites the client to notice aspects of his experience from an inner perspective – not from an idea of what it should be or has been before, but attending to all sensations, thoughts, emotions, memories that are stirred into that moment of awareness. What the client then chooses to speak moves the dialogue forward. If he chooses silence, the space held by the practitioner is in itself an honoring of that response.

The intention of the invitation of “Tell me more” can be to invite a broadening of the client’s current awareness, perhaps a shift in perspective. Sometimes looking at something from a different angle is all it takes to open the door to new insight or understanding. The query itself is open-ended, offered without carrying the practitioner’s expectation or judgment about what it should be.

In some parts of the session the guidance given may be to notice something more specific. It may, for example, pull on a thread of what has been experienced in order to provide information to the practitioner about what to offer next. Though there is more direction in this kind of query, the words are still open and inviting, revealing the importance of yet another aspect of Phoenix Rising dialogue – voice quality and energy. We all know how the content of what is spoken can change according to how the words are delivered by the speaker. Have you ever tried to give someone a compliment or offer an expression of thanks when you’re in the midst of feeling angry? Or perhaps you’ve been on the receiving end of a thankless thank you?

So it seems that dialogue may be much more than the actual words themselves. Clearly, a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy practitioner must be fully present to himself and cognizant of his own mood and motivation. Facilitation of the client’s present-moment awareness during a session requires a practitioner who is focused and free from encumbrances. Then, and only then, is it possible to speak from intenion and offer an authentic invitation.

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1. Whole body listening is a phrase used to describe a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy approach to listening that engages more than the sense of hearing. It is an approach that uses the whole body to listen.

For more information on whole body listening, visit www.ijpryt.com and hear Carol Capper’s recorded teleclass on whole body listening.

 

About the Author

Carol Capper

Carol Capper MS, OTR/L is a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy practitioner and yoga teacher. She has been Assistant Program Manager for Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy since 2006. Carol has 30 plus years of experience in the field of mental health as a therapist, educator, and administrator. Much of the focus throughout her career has been using yoga and mindfulness techniques to support clients, students, and colleagues. Her most recent passion is blogging about yoga, yoga therapy, meditation, and mindfulness. She lives by the beach in New York City.

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