|We interviewed a regular “Connection Circle” participant to ask her about her experience finding, learning, and applying the Connection Practice in her life. Below you will see the interviewer’s questions followed by the participant’s answers.
(Be sure to read about the breakthrough insight she experienced around an unhealthy pattern she and her sister had been living with for years!)
1) How were you first introduced to The Connection Practice (TCP)?
Connection Circle Participant’s response: “An interim minister at the Unity Spiritual Center I attend, Denise Schellink, introduced the Connection Practice to the congregation, and several of us went to a weekend she led.”
2) What did you notice initially that drew you to really begin practicing it regularly in your life?
Connection Circle Participant’s response: “Relief from the nagging resentments and frustrations in my life.”
3) Overall, what has your experience been applying the practice on a daily basis?
Connection Circle Participant’s response: “It’s a place I can turn for clarity and guidance when I’m upset or when I want to celebrate a joy.”
4) What is a TCP Connection circle (practice group)?
Connection Circle Participant’s response: “Regularly held meetings, where we take turns working the process; listening with our hearts, and giving and receiving empathy for whatever is alive in us in the moment.”
5) What benefits do you receive from attending this circle?
Connection Circle Participant’s response: “I learn from the experiences and insights of the other people; many problems and joys are common to us all. Also, I treasure the experience of really being heard by someone else. It’s an experience of seeing people hear each other without judgment, – with clear acceptance,- which is very freeing”
6). Do you have a specific breakthrough story that you could share in regards to attending a Connection Circle, or using TCP in general?
Connection Circle Participant’s response: “I have an older sister who is intrusive and gives unwanted advice. The experience I used in a recent Connection Practice is a time when I recorded the wrong TV show for our TV night get-together. I recorded the original – ’24’ – instead of the current season, – ’24: Legacy’ -. After we watched something else, she had to tell me to ‘be sure to record 24: Legacy for next time.’ I was astounded that she thought I’d make that mistake again. I felt angry, resentful, indignant, ashamed and hurt. I needed acceptance, harmony, and respect. When I listened to my heart in the Connection Practice, the insight that came was ‘She loves you.’ I realize now that underneath the surface game we do of her advice and my resentment, there’s a deep love. She’s my sister.”
~ Written by Tess von Geczy, who uses the Connection Practice in her daily life, and loves sharing it with others ~
When I first found the Connection Practice in January of 2015, I was in a marriage on the rocks.
As so many of us do, I was pretending to everyone, including myself, that ours was a happy relationship. But behind closed doors, I was at my wits’ end with two children under the age of 5 and an alcoholic partner that was emotionally absent at best.
Although I had been studying and practicing Nonviolent Communication for a few years, having it simplified and put in the format incorporating HeartMath practices absolutely gave it new life and relevance for me.
It proved indispensable when, less than a month later, my then husband was arrested for his third DUI.
On our front lawn. In front of our kids. And it was a hit and run.
I knew I had to make a choice. I had tried to leave twice before but let the guilt of “breaking up the family” cause me to take him back. So one morning, tears in my eyes, I took some time to do the practice. My feelings were: heartbroken, confused, and scared. My needs were: safety, growth, and clarity. I did the Heart-Brain Insight and was told, “What is best for you is best for all. Ending this cycle of dysfunction will only benefit everyone in the situation.”
Finally, I had the clarity to leave for good. My heart told me what my head questioned: that it was okay to take care of myself and my needs, and that by doing so I was helping everyone—my husband and kids included. Somehow, when the message came clearly from my heart, from a place of love, I no longer questioned that it was the right thing to do.
Fast-forward through the rest of that year… moving out, instability, conflict, discovering secrets from the past, fearing for the safety of me and my kids… I NEVER could have made it through without the Connection Practice (and a super amazing empathy buddy!) to help me to process the intense emotional ride.
Now, over two years later, I am happier than I ever thought possible. My kids are joyful and thriving.
I have my own private coaching practice, and I just started a new relationship with a wonderful man that treats me and my kids like gold.
I still use the Connection Practice nearly every day, either with myself, with friends and relations, or now with clients. I have never found a more concise and effective way to move through challenging emotions and learn the lessons needed for accelerated growth and change. It literally grants me the emotional freedom that facilitates my greatest growth and empowerment in the world.
It makes me long for the day when everyone is raised with these vital emotional intelligence skills. When that happens, we’ll truly know heaven on earth.
Yep that’s right!
In June 2017, the Connection Practice was officially recognized yet again with Unity’s “Light of God Expressing Award” received by Rita Marie Johnson, creator of this life enriching practice.
Rita Marie received this award for serving society as a whole by teaching this social-emotional skill globally. Currently, there are certified Connection Practice trainers in the United States, Puerto Rico, Japan, Costa Rica, New Zealand and Canada.
The Connection Practice formula:
“empathy + insight = connection” that they teach is a how-to that melts away pain and enriches life.
Read more about the award bio here http://www.unityworldwideministries.org/light-of-god-award
As quoted on the award bio: “Johnson discovered that the synergy of connecting mind and heart, feelings and needs, and insight and empathy maximize our social-emotional intelligence, builds resilience and enhances performance. The Connection Practice is now And we are thrilled to announce The Connection Practice is now being used by with individuals, schools, businesses, and organizations to enhance personal well-being, reduce conflicts and bullying, improve communication and collaboration, and boost performance.
~ The fruits of this practice inspire hope in everyone it touches. ~
Her practice was awarded the Ashoka Changemakers Innovation Award, chosen from 79 projects in 32 countries. Rita Marie considers her book, “Completely Connected: Uniting Our Empathy and Insight for Extraordinary Results” as her greatest achievement since it received a Nautilus Award in the Psychology category. ‘This practice that is so dear to my heart has helped me through lymphoma (twice), a divorce, the economic downturn that resulted in the elimination of funding for Connection Practice training in schools, and the death of my father. It’s also helped me to celebrate the day-to- day and major triumphs in my life. I’m so grateful for this uplifting daily practice.”
Rita Marie shared with us:
“The best part of receiving this award was being heard by my colleagues about the power of this practice. That moment was a highlight in my life and another step in fulfilling the Connection Practice vision: each person learning the art of connection and passing it on to the next generation.”
Each year, teachers are passing the Connection Practice on to approximately 40,000 students in Costa Rica, where the method was birthed. Interest in the US has skyrocketed at the announcement of the global launch of Connection Practice webinar courses, supported by over 7 global affiliates.
The practice is being used by individuals, couples, schools, businesses, and nonprofits such as addiction recovery centers and domestic violence centers, veterans organizations and healthcare. And we are just getting started in scaling up to the global level. In next month’s newsletter, we will announce the new storybooks based on the Connection Practice!
Already love the Connection Practice and wish to become a loyal member?
When Angela first learned about the Connection Practice she knew that it was a “missing piece” in the puzzle of her life. It was a big “Aha!” moment for her when she realized the wide range of feelings she could have about a given issue. She simply never realized she could have so many feelings all at once!
When Angela gets clear on her “core need” – a step within the Connection Practice – she always experiences such a great sense of relief. Following the practical, easy-to-use steps of the Connection Practice, Angela is always eager to receive her “insight” on how to get her core need met.
She often shared, “What joy and inner freedom the Connection Practice has brought into my life!”
After years of suffering with loneliness, recovering from addiction, and a lack of career direction, she knew she could always enjoy running on the beach with her beloved dog, Snowey.
In fact, as Angela grew to love the Connection Practice, she began to regularly attend Connection Practice groups (otherwise known as “Connection Circles”) with Snowey in tow. Snowey would lay on her little bed and appear to “listen in” as others shared their feelings and received warm empathy without judgment, from the group. Between shares, Snowey would enjoy a gentle pet, and she quickly became known as our empathetic furry friend – a regular at our circles!
Sadly, after a few months, Snowey appeared to fall ill. Given that Snowey served as a best friend and companion, this was naturally a very emotional time for Angela. One day she would feel optimistic about Snowey’s recovery, then the next she would fall into despair as she watched Snowey’s condition vacillate from bad to good, then back again. Angela felt very confused, as well as guilty, wishing she could do more for her beloved companion. Angela also felt extremely alone, even desperate, in need of hope and emotional support.
Then the day came when Snowey passed.
This devastated Angela and led her to fall into deep despair. The very next day after Snowey’s passing, it was Angela’s turn to facilitate a Connection Practice circle in Portsmouth, NH. Angela was torn about sharing what had happened with the group since it was such a fresh experience of loss for her.
But the love and safety within the Connection Practice group made it easy for her to share her grief.
As Angela began sharing her story with the group, she felt the comfort that comes from “letting others in.” Through receiving empathy, she experienced much needed love and support, entirely free from advice or judgment. As she took the time to really connect with her feelings, she realized that she was feeling exhausted, sad, and grateful. She also found that she was needing peace, compassion and empathy, as well as connection. Her heart insight revealed her immense love and gratitude for Snowey, and a new perspective on forgiveness for herself.
Angela left that circle healed of grief and feeling filled-up with love, gratitude and peace. The power of true empathy, as experienced within the Connection Practice, is a genuine healing balm for grief. Being held in loving compassion at the Connection Circle was a priceless experience for Angela.
Angela is now a Recovery Coach and works in a fulfilling career at Safe Harbor Recovery Center in Portsmouth, NH.