One of the most interesting and instructive courses I’ve taken as a graduate student was Arts of Communication. In the course, my professor noted that there were three golden rules:
- Number 1: Resonate. Feel one with your audience.
- Number 2: Be your natural self. Don’t try to be someone that you aren’t.
- Number 3: Center yourself, especially before you speak.
Had someone offered me these insights when I was sixteen, I may have never bought them. My younger self was a nervous wreck – with a mind lost in a flurry of thoughts – about the past, the future, the things that never happened, and the things that should have happened.
With a mind which could never anchor itself, I could never understand these golden rules. What does it mean to center myself? How could I feel one with people I don’t know? And, amidst the newer aspects of myself that I was discovering, there was also the question of: who was my real and natural self.
I realized that the concept of communication was never about speaking well. It was about being well: feeling connected, feeling centered, and feeling authentic.
So what changed? At the age of seventeen, I was introduced to the beautiful art of meditation on the heart. From that point, I have never lived life the same way.
When I began to draw my attention to my heart, amidst the cloud of thoughts that seemed to cover it, there emerged like a ray of light the presence of a peace and compassion that I discovered was already present within my heart. When we discover such wonderful things within our heart, where else would we want to be, but centered? What else would we want to feel, but connected? And having gone past all those internal layers, how else could we feel but authentic?
I still remember what it felt like to stand backstage in an auditorium, just moments before I had to give a presentation to over two hundred faces. My heart was beating in my ears, loud and clear. If the “me” from six years ago was making this speech, she would have been a nervous wreck. This time, however, I knew where my anchor lay.
I reminded myself to center myself. Recalling the meditative state, I had cultivated just that morning, I began to feel the gentle meditative warmth tug at my heart. A magical feeling of silence and connectedness filled my heart. My being began to bask in the comfort my own heart was emanating. I know I wasn’t just centered, I was connected. But perhaps it wasn’t just me – the entire auditorium seemed to reverberate the same sense of comfort and warmth that my own heart was in resonance with. With this comfort, I stepped onto the stage to give my presentation, with many people later remarking that my presentation had radiated calm and peace.
Every since that graduate school course, I have come to understand that conversation is about being connected: connected outside oneself, connected within oneself, and connected beyond oneself, to a Source of something higher. When we embrace this connection, peace automatically flows.