Much has been written about how we are living in an age of increasing social isolation. We are hard-wired for connection, but find it increasingly elusive. This is often attributed to a confluence of factors: increasing transience, the changing nature of work and family, the rise of the smartphone, the death of traditional gathering spaces, the de-prioritization of play, and more.
In this context—where we are simultaneously more connected than ever but still yearning for deeper understanding—there is an incredible opportunity to re-imagine both communication and community.
How do we want to show up for ourselves and others?
How can we create meaning together?
How do we practice resilience and communal healing?
How do we hold the paradoxes of expression and silence, intimacy and boundaries?
More than ever, words matter. The work of our generation involves not only restoring face-to-face conversation, but doing so with a curiosity to really know one another, a willingness to dive into difficult or seldom-explored topics, and a courage to express our true selves. It involves embracing the art of conversation; not only for the purposes of resolution or consensus, but also to deepen our shared sense of purpose and our understanding of what it means to be human.
At Interfusion we encourage the exploration of new experiences. In honor of this, we have created new dedicated conversation spaces to offer an opportunity for members of our community to cherish one another through deeper and more meaningful conversations.
In light of this addition to our programming, we invite you to reflect upon these ‘guiding virtues’ as you begin your preparations for the festival.
5 Guiding Virtues for More Fulfilling Conversations
Listening is an art, a beautiful gift we can give to another. When we truly listen—fully present and without an agenda—we are showing up in that moment as an ally and inviting a space where healing can occur. Listening is not about simply being quiet. It is not about trying to “fix” things for someone or solve another person’s problems. It is about bringing companionship and curiosity; asking generous questions that can help inspire expression or revelation; and holding space with empathy—even in the face of the unimaginable. Read more on the healing listener.
Expressing ourselves authentically is an invitation to go deeper, to scratch beneath the surface and share from a place of honest truth telling. It does not mean that we have to be open with everyone we meet, fill every silence with words, or reveal all of our secrets. Rather, it is about owning our unique voices and experiences while maintaining our own boundaries—allowing us to open into a space of healthy vulnerability.
Kind Disagreement and Difference
Respectful disagreement can lead to a better understanding of one another, a deeper appreciation for the diversity of human experience, and greater resilience. When there is disagreement, slowing down or taking a few breaths can help us to pause, reflect and reset. Before sharing impact or our own reflections, making sure to completely listen to the other person and repeat back in our own words what we heard can be a gift of clarity—both for ourselves and our conversation partners.
Conscious and Honored Boundaries
As we tune into ourselves, we notice internal transitions—for example, the shift from feeling comfortable and safe to feeling uncomfortable or unsafe. When we notice those transitions, we can choose to relate differently by expressing a boundary. Sometimes we feel a “yes” for an interaction, and sometimes we feel a “no”, or a “maybe.” In these conversations, our intention is to stay within the space of mutual “yes”—we want people to feel at ease with each other. When we feel a “no” arising, we can set boundaries such as: asking to pause, changing the subject, or leaving the conversation. We can see these boundaries as a precious gift to the other person that helps us stay in mutual “yes.” Honoring another person’s boundaries might include: thanking the person for expressing a boundary; practicing active listening to understand the boundary; asking for clarification or further explanation; and respecting when someone decides not to share, or asks to pause, change course, or end a conversation. Read more on setting healthy boundaries.
We have the ability to create ‘reverent spaces’ as individuals or as a community. Such spaces are created through intention, by engaging consciously and with integrity. In these spaces we are honored, held, protected, and safe. We create opportunities to explore and grow. And we are often seeking authenticity, healing, and connection (to ourselves, each other, or with universal energies). In these spaces, it is important to uphold respect for all those who are involved—regardless of differences in identity, experience, or opinions. This includes when we are engaging in conversations with one another.
Conscious Conversations Guide: Community Virtues & Agreements
Check out the full guide here.
About the Author
Ms. Lindsay Jean Bigda is a social communicator who has spent the last 7+ years working in the nonprofit space, with a focus on documenting stories related to gender and environmental justice, indigenous rights, migration, and human rights. She is the Conscious Conversations Director at Interfusion Festival.
Her movement background centers around dance and gymnastics, and she has participated in movement-based healing ceremonies with communities in the US and Latin America.
Lindsay holds an M.Ed. in Community Education Leadership, and is passionate about fostering connective spaces for learning and the authentic expression of both our strengths and our vulnerabilities. Most recently, she co-created alongside Jonelle Lesniak the Movement for Healing (MFH) Project—a community space based in Washington, DC dedicated to exploring the roles of movement and connection in life after loss.