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What We Say Matters – Book Review and Giveaway!

in Giveaways!, Reviews

what-we-say-matters-lasaterIt’s like giveaway city over here at yogadorkville! And we couldn’t be more pleased to announce our next candidate, What We Say Matters: Practicing Nonviolent Communication (Oct 09, Rodmell Press) by the ever inspiring Judith Hanson Lasater and her husband Ike Lasater. Judith, a yogi, teacher and accomplished author takes a step away from her fine-tuned knowledge of kinesiology and therapeutics to bring us a collaborative lesson about Nonviolent Communication. We won’t lead on, as stellar YD reviewer Nancy Alder has covered the rest in her awesome review below!

However, we can give you the goods about the giveaway! We have FIVE copies of the book for you fine folks! Once again, as in the Bobby Clennell giveaway, we encourage you to offer your own words, this time to the tune of an experience with Nonviolent Communication, as an effect of yoga, or even if maybe you only happened to realize it was (or wasn’t) in hindsight. In other words, how has yoga, satya, or more generally, intention, impacted your reactions to conflict? Is there a particular situation or person you wish had taken the nonviolent communication route? Post in the comments and we’ll add your name to the random drawing. Winners to be announced Monday!

And now without further ado…

What We Say Matters

Review by Nancy Alder

When I was asked by YogaDork to review What We Say Matters by Judith Hanson Lasater and Ike K. Lasater, I jumped at the chance. Let’s face it, as a yogini reading anything by one of the founders of Yoga Journal is an honor and a privilege. This book is not a typical “yoga” book as Ms. Lasater has previously written. It is instead collaboration with her husband Ike, a fellow yogi, Buddhist and professional mediator, which she describes as a “labor of love.” That the book is a result of teamwork is clear as each chapter is told in back and forth tales from each of the Lasaters. They equally contribute to the first person narrative and the reader is able to determine the speaker by the use of “I (Judith)” or “I (Ike)” throughout the pages.

What We Say Matters describes the Lasaters’ experience with Nonviolent Communication, a technique pioneered by Marshall Rosenberg, under whom they have both studied. Nonviolent Communication is a way of focusing on intention behind your words, being connected to what you say, feel and mean, and essentially practicing spiritual speech. In other words, knowing that what we say changes the outcome of our lives. The Lasaters talk about practicing satya, or truth, in communicating with others, and we believe them because they do just that with their book. Whether it is discussing with a teenager about cleaning their room (Judith), or talking with the head of Afghan Refugee camps in Pakistan (Ike), they share with honesty how they communicated. The stories describe both their successes and failures, and in this they remind the readers of their humanness.

Is What We Say Matters a “self-help” book? Yes, because it offers us tangible ways to change negative patterns in our everyday verbal interactions with others. Each chapter outlines aspects of Nonviolent Communication and ends with an easy to follow guide the reader can use to put these techniques into practice. Yet, it is the honesty and openness with which the Lasaters share their negative and positive communication stories that makes this book wonderful. By offering familiar examples, like a spouse returning home late and the anger-filled battle that can ensue, the reader feels like they are not alone in experiencing daily conflict, and is provided an approachable method to change their negative patterns.

WWSM is a glimpse into the life long partnership of Judith and Ike, a bond that has grown successfully through the study of yoga and Buddhism. Sharing how they utilized the self-observation tools learned through these practices to approach the terrible twos with their first child offers the reader an accessible exmple of ‘spiritual speech’. The fact that both of the Lasaters are used to dealing with audiences (whether via mediation or yoga) of mixed understanding is clear. They speak to all people, and their book is appropriate for anyone with or without a background in the fields the couple have mastered themselves.

After reading this book I’ve found myself tuning into the words I use on a much deeper level. I am wearing my Nonviolent Communication tool belt as provided by the Lasaters and know that approaching conversations with a more spiritual speech promises me less conflict. I have seen their techniques in action when dealing with my small children, and I have reconsidered my frustrations with my husband arriving home late from work. While WWSM is not a panacea to the world’s conflicts, it does offer us some valuable and easy tools to temper them in their own space.

Nancy is co-founder of Namaste Book Club and a valued YD contributor.

9 comments… add one
  • I think nonviolent communication or being aware of an intention has helped me to connect to those around me on a whole new level, articulate what I am feeling and thinking without hurting others and give of myself through speech in a way I had never thought of before. I now believe that my intentions shape my life.

  • I just finished taking a mini-course on yoga and non-violent communication. These methods have allowed me to be more of the physical reactions in my body that are connected to certain emotions. Greater awareness has led me to be able to apply strategies to deal with these emotions before conflicts or interactions get out of control.

    Also, through these methods, I have become more aware of not only my own needs, but the needs of others, which helps makes communication more meaningful.

    I have enjoyed some of Judith Lasater’s other books and I am certainly looking forward to reading this one!

  • My wife Jane is a master of “kill them with kindness”. Whenever she starts to get angry at someone, she treats the person with respect and kindness, and she tries to help them out in any way she can.

    She doesn’t suppress her anger entirely. She might come home and rant and rave to me. But rarely to the person in question. Often these people are so surprised they end up changing their behavior and they become great friends.

    Bob Weisenberg

  • I have found the practice of pranayama to be my most useful tool in practicing speech with intention. Often, the things we say out loud are connected to a deeper emotional reaction to the situation at hand. Pranayama (from the simple “breathe deeply” variety to my favorite calming practice, alternate nostril breath) is a way to connect with what your heart really feels and what your mind really thinks in any given moment. A deep, full breath can miraculously open our eyes to other perspectives and possibilities, leading our words in a more openhearted, understanding direction.

    I have never studied nonviolent communication, but the idea has always been intriguing. This book sounds like a perfect introduction.

  • Nicely put, Meaghan.

  • Shana Skaletsky

    Before I began a consistent yoga practice, much of my communication came from a place of frustration, stress, and even rage. I felt that in order to succeed in my career (one outside the yoga world), I needed that anger to get my point across. It didn’t work (surprise, surprise). Has my practice completely changed the way I communicate? Not entirely, but I’ve noticed that I’ve become more aware of the manner in which I communicate. Much like making a physical adjustment in asana, when I notice that my words and actions are out of alignment and coming from a place of pain, I adjust my point of view.

  • Roz

    What we say AND how we say it matter. Yoga and meditation in particular has helped me slow down as well as reflect on my behavior. After being not necessarily angry, but just short and not present in a phone call with my mom, I went upstairs for some yoga. When my practice was over and my mind felt reset and refreshed, I called her to apologize for my shortness and tried to share with her what was going on elsewhere in my head. I think yoga has helped me focus on TODAY as the only day and being more present and aware of the moments that make up that day.

  • Michelle

    Luckily, when we meditate and do asana regularly, I think beneficent communication comes naturally. I was a very hot-headed person who reacted without thinking, in the past. Now, when I am in a situation that would have formally infuriated me, my emotions are automatically brought into the field of conscious awareness and transmuted into understanding, therefore bringing forth considered words and deeds. It’s with habitual practice holding that space of meditation, that the gift of non-voilent communication comes. Thus it is said, “Keep practicing and all is coming.” –Thankfully 🙂

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