We design the world through the relationships we live and the relationship quality we pass on to the next generation. When we practice more awareness in our close relationships, we rewrite the past. We can heal, we can integrate, and through that, we can change the world.
I want to explore here the art of Transparent Communication. This is a profound evolutionary practice that I have been teaching around the world for over 20 years. What are the benefits and what is our contribution to our lives and our world when we practice Transparent Communication?
Transparent Communication is sometimes misunderstood. Some people say, “Oh, I transparently share everything that happens in my life.” That’s great, of course. But Transparent Communication is more than that It’s an art form as well as a relational or social contemplative practice in relationships.
As you are reading this article right now, you are most likely not living in a cave in the Himalayas somewhere and meditating for 20 years. So the contemplation and meditation of those of us who live in the world is precisely this life in this world, in a society, in a family, as parents, as partners, as husband and wife, and as citizens who contribute to our society.
More Awareness in the Relationship Process
Therefore, we want to bring more and more awareness into this relationship process. Through continuous practice, we strengthen our ability to perceive and feel experiences more clearly and to be able to lead relationships in higher resolution.
Meditation and contemplation are meant to see, experience, and feel life in a higher resolution, with a higher consciousness. This higher consciousness enables us to perceive things that we have not seen before.
So when we practice Transparent Communication, it’s partly about knowing what I want to say and being able to express myself accordingly. That’s good in itself. But it’s also about an awareness of myself and an awareness of the space between me and others. It’s an understanding of whether the person, group, or team with whom I am currently in a relationship is actually in my conscious awareness.
So communication is not just about what I want to say or express. It’s also about what you, as my counterpart, hear. So the whole process of awareness of the person speaking, the space in between, and the person listening requires a lot of attunement. That’s why I called my next book Attuned – because attunement is the flow of data, the awareness that takes place between us when we’re in relationship or relating to each other.
Relationship is like Data Streaming
I love the analogy of video streaming. You used to download a video and then watch it. Nowadays, it’s common that the video you’re watching is streaming as you watch it. Relationships are like streaming data, like Netflix. They involve a real-time awareness of what’s actually flowing between us, or what’s not flowing between us. The dyadic experience and the group experience have a heightened awareness of this process.
So when we talk to each other, when we relate to each other, when we are together, even when we hug each other, a lot of data is exchanged. The more we are grounded in and aware of this data, the more a sense of intimacy is created.
When you listen to someone, they are present in your central nervous system because that is where you hear them. That’s where the other person is existent when you hear the words, feel what comes with the words, and relate to what you’re hearing. Your sensory input, in a sense, channels that person into your central nervous system. And there you form the meaning of what you hear.
We Exist in Each Other
Relationship is always a very intimate process. Why? Because we exist in each other. We see each other. We hear each other. We feel each other. And the ability to be present in that sense, and to be attuned to the fact that we exist in each other, is amazing. Why? Because there’s a lot of data inside of us that we’ve already received and that’s in-forming us. And when I listen to you, you in-form me. So I have a form of you in me.
When we say we are open, what does that mean? When the data penetrates deeply, I have a physical experience of you. I can feel you through my body. I can feel your body through my body. I have an emotional experience because emotions are the connective tissue of life. I have an emotional experience, a physical experience, and a mental experience that I can understand. I can go into your mental sphere with what you tell me and be with you there. That’s how we understand each other. Or often, we don’t understand each other.
There’s a relationship dimension in how openness is really true openness. This is a relaxed, regulated state of our nervous system referred to as the “Social Engagement Zone” in Polyvagal Theory. When we are both resting in the social engagement zone, we are most open to receiving each other, listening to each other, being with each other, being creative together, and feeling like we are sharing a common space.
Transparent Communication is, in a way, a form of training that teaches us to pay more attention to the inner information that we carry within us from each other. And that communication is not only an intellectual process but also a cognitive process that is connected with an emotional and physical experience that contributes to our groundedness. This enables us to feel good and anchored in our bodies.
What I say and what I feel emotionally and physically match. When something makes sense, it means it is felt AND thought. Thinking and feeling are processes that flow through my nervous system. I can feel it. I can understand it. It makes sense.
Often, and especially when we are hurt, traumatized, wounded, or unconscious – thinking is disconnected from emotional and physical experience. In this state, we can talk about things, but we don’t feel them. So when we talk about things we can’t feel, we transfer thought patterns, belief systems, and cognitive structures into the relationship. But we transfer something else through our bodies. Suddenly there are two or more streams of information instead of one coherent sense-making. So I am transmitting fragmentation into the space – a two-ness, a three-ness, or more. The information sent out is not coherent.
This informs me in advance of the presence of an unconscious splitting of information. When I am very present and aware of it, I notice it. If I don’t notice the splitting that the other person is radiating to me and I feel uncomfortable, I may get triggered. I don’t fully understand what the other person is saying.
Then there is an agitation in the relationship space, and the probability is much higher that there will be an escalation, reactivity, and misunderstandings – that we do not speak the same language, drift apart, and steer into conflict. These conflicts are often based on a non-coherent internal exchange of information.
Fragmentation is Based on Traumatization
This kind of inner fragmentation is always based on trauma, whether it’s from childhood, or from other negative experiences that we or our ancestors have had. We probably grew up in a family system where there were many fragmented messages. And so that became the relationship system that we feel is normal.
But it is not normal. This happens when we live in a world that is partially wounded. So instead of calling it normal, maybe we should describe it this way: There are moments when the pain of life is expressed through fragmented messages.
Transparent Communication as a contemplative practice, where contemplative does not necessarily mean meditation, can take place in very lively and energetic conversations where I am very present. And I notice many things and am aware of many aspects of the relational process while in very different environments. Whether it is in business meetings, with our loved ones in the family, or as a citizen in a society where I am expressing my agency.
The Principle of Resonance is Like Music
The coherence in my nervous system between my cognitive functions, my emotional functions, and my physical functions, is like a musical instrument. So I resonate with you and you resonate with me. This principle of resonance is like music. Much of human relationships are based on music. The more open our nervous system is, the finer the quality of music we send out.
And of course, for all of us who work in therapeutic professions – in coaching, counseling, teaching, mediation, and in many other professions that are based on constant interactions between people, attunement, and empathy – transparent communication is an amazing tool. We are constantly refining our ability to perceive details in the flow of data that are very important because they inform us. That is, a form emerges. And if that form is unconscious, then there are unconscious forms in our lives that we often don’t understand.
And then there are the conscious forms. So, I am aware of the process and I am consciously informed. And of course, that’s very helpful because that awareness radiates out to those around me. So part of the influence that I have in life is based on consciousness, on all those parts of me that I’m aware of and that are constantly having a conscious influence on my environment. So it’s actually part of a conscious ecosystem, and that’s what I contribute to any ecosystem that I become part of.
Transparent Communication Makes Relationships an Art Form
Transparent Communication is a kind of refinement that makes relationships an art form that we can refine more and more. This improves my ability to include more of the world in myself.
When we really meet and engage, we create a new world together. Practicing relational presence and awareness, tuning in to the other, and feeling the other as we talk is actually a tremendously beautiful exercise. It’s not always easy, because in the process we also encounter our own inner wounds, our blind spots, and our patterns of reactivity. But it is an expanding practice that deepens something very fundamental in life: human relationships. And the relationship with all life! It applies not only to human relationships but to our relationship with the whole universe because we exist only as relational beings.
Thomas Hübl, Point of Relation Podcast, Episode 10, Transcript