Oren Jay Sofer

Oren Jay Sofer teaches mindfulness, meditation, and Nonviolent Communication (NVC) in both secular and Buddhist contexts and is the first author to integrate mindfulness and somatics with the tools and principles of NVC. He is the author of Say What You Mean and coauthor of The Mindful Schools Curriculum for Adolescents and Teaching Mindfulness to Empower Adolescents. He lives in El Cerrito, California. For more, visit orenjaysofer.com.

Author photo © Sheila Menezes

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Stretch Your Heart and Say What You Mean

Join Sounds True’s Tami Simon in conversation with author and teacher Oren Jay Sofer, as he shares his innovative method for productive discourse and authentic connection. In “Stretch Your Heart and Say What You Mean,” Tami and Oren explore how contemplative practice is an essential ingredient for healthy conversations and relationships, and vice versa; three foundations for mindful communication; the practice of pausing a conversation; the art of the “do-over”; the power of intention in conversation; curiosity, humility, and kindness; how focusing on what matters transforms reactivity and allows us to speak our truth; the shift from projecting blame to identifying and expressing our needs; the heart of compassion and nonviolence—seeing one another in a deeper way; three layers of needs—physical, relational, and spiritual; freeing our hearts from animosity and hostility, and becoming a force for loving unification; and more.

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William Ury: Being a Possibilist

A healthy relationship—whether that’s between two people or two nations—is not one in which everyone agrees; it’s one where it’s safe for differences, and we have the skills to honor all of our needs. In this podcast, Tami Simon speaks with renowned mediator and bestselling author, William Ury, about his new book, Possible and the insights he has gleaned through more than four decades of conflict-resolution across the globe. 

If you only listen to one podcast this year, may it be this one! Tami and William discuss: Meeting animosity with curiosity; shifting perspective and the metaphor of the balcony; self-observation; how more silence leads to more cooperation; the 3A trap: avoid, accommodate, or attack; the link between creativity and conflict; why negotiation is more about listening than speaking; reaching “second order agreement”; creating a “golden bridge” across our divides; universal needs and the question, what do you really want?; humble audacity; the notion of bringing in the third side; the importance of reconciliation; and more.

Note: This episode originally aired on Sounds True One, where these special episodes of Insights at the Edge are available to watch live on video and with exclusive access to Q&As with our guests. Learn more at join.soundstrue.com.

Embracing Empathy as Your Superpower

What do I do when a loved one is suffering? How do I have empathy if I’m getting a divorce or losing my job? If my family treats me unfairly? Or if I’m emotionally overwhelmed or in chronic pain?

If you’ve ever asked yourself these questions, I’ve written The Genius of Empathy for you. It also includes a beautiful foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

In the book, I present empathy as a healing force that helps you overcome obstacles in your life with dignity, grace, and power. As a psychiatrist and empath, I draw from my insights and present techniques from my own life and from the healing journeys of my clients, students, and readers. As I say in the book, “Empathy softens the struggle, quiets the unkind voices, and lets you befriend yourself again.”

Empathy doesn’t mean being “on call” 24 hours a day for those in need. Empaths can often wear an invisible sign that says, “I can help you.” However, if you want to heal yourself, have better relationships, and contribute to healing our tumultuous world, you must learn how to set healthy boundaries and observe, not absorb, the energy of others.

To start taking a more proactive role in how much empathy you give others at any one time, I suggest that you keep in mind the following “rights.” They will help you maintain a healthy mindset and prevent or lessen any empathy overwhelm that might arise:

  • I have the right to say a loving, positive “no” or “no, thank-you.”
  • I have the right to set limits with how long I listen to people’s problems.
  • I have the right to rest and not be always available to everyone.
  • I have the right to quiet peacefulness in my home and in my heart.

Practice: Take a Sound Break to Repair Yourself

Plan periods of quiet to recover from our noisy, fast-paced world. This helps calm your nervous system and your mind, an act of self-empathy.

It’s rejuvenating to schedule at least five minutes of quiet or, even better, complete silence for an hour or more where no one can intrude. As I do, hang a Do Not Disturb sign on your office or bedroom door. During this reset period, you’ve officially escaped from the world. You’re free of demands and noxious sounds. You may also get noise canceling earbuds to block out noise.

If too much quiet is unsettling, go for a walk in a local park or a peaceful neighborhood to decompress from excessive sound stimulation. Simply focus on putting one foot in front of the other, which is called mindful walking. Nothing to do. Nothing to be. Move slowly and refrain from talking. If thoughts come, keep refocusing on your breath, each inhalation and exhalation. Just letting life settle will regenerate your body and empathic heart.

Embracing your empathy does require courage. It can feel scary. If you’re ready to discover its healing power, I would be honored to be your guide to helping you in overcoming your fears and obstacles, and enhancing this essential skill for long-term change.

Though many of us have never met, I feel connected to you. Connection is what fuels life. While empathy is what allows you to find peace. With both, we can make sense of this world together.

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Digital Audio
Ignite empathy as a superpower for personal healing, deeper relationships, and more potent work in the world. New York Times bestselling author Dr. Judith Orloff draws on insights from neuroscience, psychology, and energy medicine to show us how to access our sensitivities, soothe our nervous systems, and embody our most fierce and authentic selves.

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What is Somatic Abolitionism?

Somatic Abolitionism is a living, embodied anti-racist practice, a form of culture building, and a way of being in the world. In this immersive audio workshop, Resmaa Menakem presents ten sessions of insights and body-based practices to help listeners liberate themselves—and all of us—from racialized trauma and the strictures of white-body supremacy.

Listen to the first 15 minutes of this audio program:

This is an adapted excerpt from You, Me, Us and Racialized Trauma by Resmaa Menakem.

You, Me, Us, and Racialized Trauma

Somatic Abolitionism is a living, embodied anti-racist practice, a form of culture building, and a way of being in the world. In an immersive audio workshop, Resmaa Menakem presents ten sessions of insights and body-based practices to help listeners liberate themselves—and all of us—from racialized trauma and the strictures of white-body supremacy.

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