Season 2 EP#60 Family Constellations: Decolonizing Non-Violent Communication with Meenadchi
In this episode of Your Story Medicine, I welcome Meenadchi, a facilitator and somatic practitioner whose work centers the softness of meeting our best selves and deepening into our collective light. Using a blend of family constellation therapy and Non-Violent Communication, Meenadchi weaves workshops in which participants are invited to reconnect with the intuitive wisdom of our bodies and to cocreate intergenerational healing by changing the way we speak to ourselves, each other, and the universe. Meenadchi is the author of Decolonizing Non-Violent Communication (2019).
Main Topics Discussed:
- Healing intergenerational trauma together
- Giving yourself permission to release your limiting beliefs
- Knowing whether your trauma is speaking, or your intuition
What are you celebrating about yourself today?
Meenadchi: I am so willing to say yes to life.
How would you describe your medicine?
Meenadchi: I help people find the words that really feel true for them. I think a lot of times when we're frozen or stuck wanting to say and do the right thing, there's a truth that kind of gets trapped in the body and our words start to fumble. And we don't know really what it is that we want to say, whether it's to our loved ones or how to stick up for ourselves, or even around how we want to talk to ourselves in a way that is generative and kind. So one is just helping people find the words that really feel true. And the other is helping people to connect to the fact that our ancestors want the best for us and that our ancestors are everywhere. There's nothing we have to say or do to prove ourselves to be more than who we are—knowing that who we are in this moment is exactly who we are meant to be, and then giving ourselves the trust to be able to continue in our path with this light and with this love.
Tell me where your ancestors are from without telling me where your ancestors are from. How has your ancestral lineage influenced your path today, and how has it influenced your path toward decolonizing non-violent communication?
Meenadchi: My ancestors are from a place where fish are both food and beauty. My ancestors are from a place where rocks and walls combined to become drums. My ancestors are from a place where we know and have forgotten and are learning to remember the connection between the land and the ocean. We're from a place where the air is so dry and yet the land is so rich. I don't even have words to describe that, but there's like a quality of emergence the way the Palm trees sway that just fills you with air and life. My people are from Jaffna, Sri Lanka. I was born in 1983, three days before the war began. That was a war for liberation which ended in 2009. I grew up with the war as a backdrop and my family had already left Sri Lanka. I grew up knowing about it, thinking about it, wanting our people to have a homeland. And I was home from college in 2002. At that time there was a ceasefire between the liberation movement and the government and my Amma (my mother) told me there's this woman who's doing a fundraiser because they want to move back home and teach non-violent communication. They changed my mother’s world forever. I’ve learned that speaking our truth is the deepest form of nonviolence. That takes a lot of energy, courage, and community support.
Can you describe non-violent communication (NVC) and how is decolonizing NVC different?
Meenadchi: You're going to get different answers from different practitioners. Non-violent communication is this modality that was developed by Marshall Rosenberg, who is a clinical psychologist. It has a very structured way of speaking to each other, offering an observation, connecting that to a feeling and a need, and then making a request, and understanding that our feelings are a result of whether our needs have been met or not. And so if we can take a little bit of ownership over our own feelings and our own needs, then we can make requests of each other that sort of. Decolonizing NVC starts with really listening to the body. So what are the body's messages? How is our body communicating to us? It takes out all the formulas. There's no right or wrong way to say anything to each other. What is true is that we need an emotional vocabulary. We need to be willing to change our behavior. We need to respond in ways that don’t shut down or shame the other person. I think we’ve been conditioned by sort of conventional colonial standards of healing—that healing looks like being in one room with a therapist, all eyes on you. And we forget that when we are witness to the experience of somebody else's deep healing work, we receive gifts in tandem because our journeys are not actually so separate the specific details, the names, et cetera, are maybe a little different, but the energetic vibes of what needs to be healed are so common that when we participate in healing work together, the whole thing amplifies.
What would you say to somebody who is interested, but isn't quite sure whether or not this would be the next step for them in their own healing?
Meenadchi: Usually what I ask people to do is to tap into their bodies. When you hear, for example, that actually there is permission for you to be your best self or there is permission to heal, and when you hear that there is permission for you to release your limiting beliefs and the limitations that you've placed upon yourself, and then check in when you hear some of those things, does your body go super, super closed up? No, because that wouldn’t be permission, right? Or is it this kind of place where it feels like a scary edge? There might be permission. Or is it this open? Expansive? That’s permission.
How do you stay grounded and what have you learned to release?
Meenadchi: My morning routine has kept me grounded. I've been really enjoying a homemade lavender chai. All the small moments of gratitude as well—being able to appreciate each and every color that I see. Also, moisturizing: having really good lotion. Right now, I'm working with pineapple, cocoa butter, and another rose cocoa butter recipe I’m playing around with. I’m learning to let go of expectations that aren’t mine to carry.
If you could envision yourself as a future ancestor, what would they say to you today?
Meenadchi: Don’t worry. You’ll get there. I see you. All you need to be beautiful is to have twinkling eyes and a cheery face.
Conclusion: Decolonizing non-violent communication starts with listening to your body and beginning taking ownership of your own feelings and needs. There's no right or wrong way to talk to someone, so when in doubt, speak your truth. What is important is to have an emotional vocabulary. We need to be willing to change our behavior. We need to respond in ways that don’t shut down or shame the other person.
Action Integration: Let go of the expectations that aren't yours to carry. Take a breath and imagine the expectations shedding and falling off. Also imagine that everybody is really glad that you're letting go of those expectations.
Learn more about Meenadchi:
Free gift of somatic healing practice to release ancestral baggage: https://mailchi.mp/9b129f043eec/kox11pm3nf
Lavender chai recipe mentioned in the episode: www.meenadchi.com/my-chai-and-scones
Download my free guided meditation on how to connect with your ancestors bit.ly/ancestorinthemaking
FREE upcoming workshop on May 19, 2022: “How to Charge For Your Worth” www.yourstorymedicine.com/iamworthy