Verbal Stretching Overview
Just as in the martial dojo, in the verbal dojo we arrive with gratitude, we get centered and then we warm up before practice. Indeed, in Verbal Aikido we warm up our minds and our spirits with Verbal Stretching. This practice enables us to get reflexive posture training on two of the key aspects of communication: centered expression and neutral listening. The exercise may seem esoteric at first, but has immediate real-world effects as a concrete means to practice empathy and develop self-knowledge.
Generally, there are two roles in Verbal Stretching. First, we will look at the Participant, who focuses on maintaining a centered expression. You’ll see with your first Stretchcard that the questions are not geared at a specific response, rather at enabling the speaker to express their truth. This is the case for you as Participant in any stretch; it is an opportunity for you to align with your truth of the moment, your inner wisdom. You cannot get it wrong! Your role as participant is simply to:
- Express yourself as freely and openly as you feel you can
- Focus on expressing yourself from a centered state
The Facilitator, on the other hand, initiates the stretch by proposing a selection of words. A Facilitator might ask, “What would you like to stretch: ‘serene confidence’, ‘centered’ or ‘personal peace’?”. The Facilitator practices an enhanced style of listening: without judgment, interruption or reformulation. Simply receive the Participant’s expression with open, silent curiosity. Observe how neutral you can be with this.
The role of the Facilitator is to
- Follow the set of questions on the Stretchcard
- Focus on listening as neutrally as possible