8/6/17 ~ Atlas Shrugs? & The Power of Outrospection [FYI – Next tele-seminar: September 3rd at 8 pm/ET]

being giraffe

Street Giraffes is a free tele-practice group that gathers on the first Sunday of each month for “dialogue lab” experimentation w/ iGiraffe (towards building street [giraffe] cred) — in the hopes that by cultivating presence we might enhance our conversational versatility.

More About Street Giraffes


Mediating One’s Life

Other NVC Learning Venues

NVC is an awareness discipline masquerading as a communication process.”

~ Kit Miller of the MK Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence


What’s Up Next?

August 6, 2017 ~ Atlas Shrugs?

The Power of Outrospection



How does your awareness of the living-energy of needs factor into your practice of nonviolence more broadly, such as with social change agency (i.e. how might it be utilized as a resource for a more mindful existence within a larger, societal context)?  How does engagement with the world at large influence you as a practitioner of Nonviolence/NVC?

Gadfly EthicsGadfly (PSF)Courtesy of Pearson Scott Foresman

Gadfly: The Life of Socrates

The Gadfly Analogy made by Socrates in Plato’s Apology –
Philosophy Core Concepts

Socratic Questioning – Changing Minds

While considering an area of societal concern that you may have…

Reflection Questions:

  • What keeps you from moving forward (with reference to your issue/concern)?
  • What support do you need to go forward?
  • What beliefs might keep you from changing or going forward?


The Spiral of the Work

I keep the Spiral in my toolbox, close at hand on a daily basis, and move through its four stations often (when I’m unsettled after a phone call, for instance), however I’m incorporating it in the context of this Sunday’s call/post more in the spirit with which it was originally designed, to support, even amplify, our engagement with the world

The four stations of Joanna Macy’s Spiral of the Work That Reconnects are deliberatively a part of how our call is constructed, however the spiral can also be used with open-ended sentences, dyad work, etc. to deepen our engagement with things that we might ordinarily glance past.  As indicated in the opening inquiry,  we will identify the qualities of needs as a generative resource (a dyad practice).  I’ll offer more details during the call, however it mostly entails allowing the spaciousness — to both ourselves and others — to apprehend a need in the same way you might during a wine tasting gathering (with each swooshing it about, discerning its distinctive qualities, breathing in its aroma, etc. — this works both when someone prompts us to flesh out a need that they themselves name and/or when we choose one and then describe, even free-associate, while in the presence of another.

Lastly, to place this building of a “need connoisseur” muscle in context, it’s also useful to identify a troubling scenario and infuse one’s recollection with the qualities of whatever need wasn’t attended to, in that moment.  Imbibe of the memory of this event, while infused with the living-energy of need(s).

We’ll link our practice of apprehending mourning/beauty of needs with an exploration of Nonviolence — the tradition from which NVC stems — in the context of social change [agency — specifically vis-a-vis Joanna Macy’s work, as it relates to the environment].


What is the city but the people? ~ Shakespeare

Personal Growth and Social Change (Part 1) | The Fearless Heart

by Miki Kashtan


Beyond Personal Growth
On the personal level, the practice of NVC supports the inner work necessary to maintain a stance of nonviolence even in difficult circumstances. However, personal growth, “being the change,” is only one aspect of the work. How do we work towards creating change at the structural level? However we conceive of leverage points for structural change, we would need to organize and act with others to create shifts. For that, we need concrete practices to bring our consciousness and practice of nonviolence to go beyond the personal, inner work… (continues(2) (3) (4) (5) (6)

20th Century as the Age of Introspection…

21st Cenurty as the Age of Outrospection?

Outrospection, “which is about discovering who we are by stepping outside ourselves and exploring the lives of other people and cultures.” (Roman Krznaric wrote an entire blog on the subject)

Atlas (Farnese Globe)
Farnese Atlas (Museo Archeologico NazionaleNaples)
Courtesy of Gabriel Seah via Wikimedia Commons

Utilizing OFNR ~ towards Social Change [Agency]

  • Naming a statement that would encapsulates what triggers your despair/judgment
  • Noticing the uncomfortable feelings you have when you contemplate this statement
  • Uncovering the need or value behind that feeling
  • Really basking in the dream you have for the world to manifest your value — bring it to life; and noticing how such a rich experience of your dream sustains your resilience and uplifts your feelings
  • Finally — while remaining in such a resourceful space, finding the need of the other/others — for whom you have ‘enemy images’ — that might have led them to the conduct you disdain (that was originally such a trigger for our judgment)

An example of a statement that triggers despair/judgment:

Eight year old Sasha, “The planet is getting warmer.  We know about global warming and pollution and everything, but it’s getting worse.  And that’s why we should care.”

What follows is an example of “enjoying the jackal show” (in order to surface what is being valued, in this instance, by me).  FYI ~ Near bottom of this post, just beneath the next drawing of a gadfly, you’ll find more on Joanna Macy’s Spiral of the Work That Reconnects.   

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7/17 ~ Improvisational Observation

What’s Up Next?

Questions as to 
joining the call?
Please contact via streetgiraffes@gmail.com

July 2, 2017 ~ Improvisational Observation

Childe Hassam - Improvisation - Google Art ProjectImprovisation by Childe Hassam, 1899

“To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.”

― George Orwell



How do you cultivate discernment of when/how you are utilizing the four components of Nonviolent Communication:  Observation, Feelings, Needs & Requests (a.k.a. “OFNR“)?  How do you integrate these into your everyday lives?

Tools:  Try taking an incident in which you may have struggled to find an observational way of wording things and do a ‘post-hersal’ in which you take what was said and rework, or rephrase it.

For example, “You’re yelling at me!”

Re-visioned, observationally:  “When you speak at a volume that is louder than I’m comfortably able to listen to…”

By innoxiuss (Thinking at Hell’s gate)

Cultivating awareness, or conscious competency, of the element of observation in our NVC pracitice…

As I’ve indicated at the @StreetGiraffe twitter account, I consider myself a “heterodox giraffe” — in other words, more of a Nelson Mandela practitioner of Nonviolence (vis-a–vis Nonviolent Communication) than that of an “all in” Gandhi or MLK (shall post on this, to clarify, sometime soon!).  Which, at least in some ways, isn’t all that different from how Miki suggests learning how to naturalize:

The second piece is to let go of perfection and to be honest and authentic about the spontaneous truth that lives in me.  Eventually I will know how to translate.  For now, if I don’t have the agreement, it is better that I speak jackal that is authentic than that I speak NVC that is imposed on you without your agreement and without my authenticity.  I much prefer that we speak authentic jackal than distorted NVC look-alike that isn’t real.  I hope you take this deep to your heart for the benefit of all beings.” Miki Kashtan via Naturalizing NVC

By speaking in ways that come intuitively and integrating the components of Observation, Feelings, Needs & Requests as seem apropos at the time (something I’ve come to think of as “improvisational OFNR”).

Unlike many of my fellow practitioners, I don’t have an aspiration to move towards ‘giraffe’ without any traces of ‘jackal’ (if this blog were to be more authentically titled, it might be termed ‘street girackal’).  I thoroughly enjoy and am often inspired by those who have a more profound commitment to practicing Nonviolent Communication, however for me, it’s one tool in the toolbox (albeit the ethos of the consciousness is something more than this analogy connotes).

Mandela once noted that ones opponent determines the means of one’s resistance and while both Gandhi & King would likely disagree, having sacrificed their very lives to their cause (of Nonviolence), I do suspect that having the Brits or American’s such as JFK/LBJ as an opponent/ally is a difference in kind than having an adversary whose conscience is not as readily appealed to (or moved/shifted through nonviolent resistance).  This, of course, comes up for me given the current tumult working its way through the American political scene, all the more acutely given that — as I type — it’s the fourth of July weekend.  This call coincidentally began on July 4, 2011 and so the liberating spirit of declaratory oaths has somehow become inextricably linked with my being a practitioner of Nonviolent Communication.  Over the ensuing years, I’ve become more at ease with my personal take/practice, and have come to enjoy the inquiry of it, akin to a scientific open-mindedness while investigating the efficacy of a hypothesis.

22if_i_were_you22_live_show_at_dc_improv_2017By Al8969a (Own work)

So, when I first encountered the brilliant Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero, a few years back now, and witnessed her improvisational genius at the keyboard, it struck a chord, pardon the pun.  Just as it’s possible to hear remnants of the original melody in her spontaneously inspired creation, it’s likely that I employ the elements of NVC, the four components known as OFNR, but rarely in the template laid out (more sprinkled in, interwoven).

For me, the improv is where the magic happens…

Gabriela Montero Improvisations on a theme from Harry Potter

When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.”
~ Brenda Ueland

The Art of Listening | Zen Moments

Observations, Feelings, Needs and Requests are also four lenses through which we can discern, or listen empathically, to others (in addition to self-expressing).  I’ve appreciated this template of the ‘three layers’ by which one can attune to another on ever deepening levels…


Three Layers of Empathy

(beneath is courtesy of the work of Jim and Jori Manske)


Empathy is being with another with compassion, connecting to the
humanness of their experience. Empathy is the silent presence
with another, not the words we use. We can express our empathy
and some possible ways to express empathy are included here.

ACKNOWLEDGING another’s experience
Reflecting: Observation, Feeling, Request, and/or Wish
NOT: blame, criticism, or evaluation
“(Something) happened. ”
“You are upset.”
“You wish (something different) had happened.”
“You would like (something).”

Connecting to the CAUSE of the feeling (the need)
Connecting to the universal need/value that the feeling is
reflecting, making no reference to any specific person (including
myself) doing any specific action. Notice there is no reference to
“I” or “me” at the causal level.
“Are you feeling _____ because (need) is important to you?”
“Are you valuing (need)?‘
“So for you, (need) is important.”
Some examples of “need” words: security, cooperation, fun, creativity, love,
respect, freedom, healing, understanding, belonging, awareness, etc.

SAVORING the need
Being with the value of the need.
Connecting to the internal resource and universality of the need.
“Ah, (need)”
Space / Silence

Based on the work of Marshall B. Rosenberg, author of Nonviolent Communication
© 2009 peaceworks, Jim and Jori Manske
Certified Trainers with The Center for Nonviolent Communication

FYI ~  Empathy Layers.pdf

Radical Compassion – Files: Hand-outs, recordings, notes, etc.

“The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy, we can all sense a mysterious connection to each other.” ― Meryl Streep


See also:  NVC Dialogue Lab & NVC Reality TV (via NVC Marketplace)

Consciousness Competence Matrix

David Brooks:  Tuners and Spinners – The New York Times

Excerpt:  …The tuner makes you feel known. The tuner is good at empathy and hungers for deep connection. The tuner may be bad at small talk, but in the middle of a deep conversation the tuner will ask those extra four or five questions, the way good listeners do… (continues)

Credit:  Four stages of competence – Wikipedia

Courtesy of Radical Compassion – Pathways to Liberation MATRIX

Pathways to Liberation
Self-Assessment Matrix

No knowledge
of the skill.

Unconsciously Incompetent

Becoming aware
of the skill.

Consciously Incompetent

Able to use the skill,
with effort.

Consciously Competent

Naturally uses the skill
with ease and flow.

Unconsciously Competent


  Noticing (and possibly describing) our sensory and mental experiences, and distinguishing these experiences from the interpretations we ascribe to them.

Habitually confuses interpretation with observation; assumes that evaluations and interpretations are facts. Becoming aware of interpretations as distinct from observations when reviewing past events; little skill or clarity of this distinction when interacting in real time. Increasingly remembering and making the distinction between observation and interpretation. Effortlessly able to distinguish observations from interpretations.

When we find that we don’t know something important, we’re often motivated to learn more. However if we’re blissfully unaware of our ignorance, there’s little we can do about it.

One of the first steps on the journey to acquiring new skills is therefore to be aware of what you don’t know. This discovery can be uncomfortable, as can be the experience of not being very good at what you’re trying to do (as you won’t be, when you first start to learn.)

The Conscious Competence Ladder is a popular and intuitive approach (attributed to many different possible originators) that helps us manage our own emotions during a sometimes dispiriting learning process.


 Gabriela Montero describes improvisation as an experience where there isn’t a sense of failure, but/rather an exhilarating sense of freefall, like jumping off a cliff, in which anything can happen…

Gabriela Montero Improvises Bizet’s “Toreador’s Song”

An Arab proverb:

He who knows, and knows he knows,

He is a wise man, seek him.

He who knows and knows not he knows,

He is asleep, wake him.

He who knows not, and knows he knows not,

He is a child, teach him.

He who knows not, and knows not he knows not,

He is a fool, shun him.

Via GabrielaMonteroTV:  After playing Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor with the Orquesta Simfònica Illes Ballears, Gabriela Montero offered an improvised encore on Bizet’s “La Habanera”, as suggested in the moment by a member of the audience. Watch as the theme is taken from the Baroque period, to the Tango salons of Argentina, concluding with a Joplin-esque Ragtime. The improvisation inspired a standing ovation from audience and orchestra alike.

Gabriela Montero: LIVE improvisation on “La Habanera”, July ’16 (Mallorca)


  1. just begun and so not fully formed or developed; rudimentary.
    “a still inchoate democracy”
    synonyms: rudimentary, undeveloped, unformed, immature, incipient, embryonic;

The idea of a video camera recording what has been said or done is often used, in an NVC context, as a litmus test as to whether something qualifies as an ‘observation’ — something that could be recorded as having been said or done.

However, to be a bit contrarian (as is my wont) — we know from science — that this is not always sufficient (especially in consideration of “that which is alive” — think germs, atomic energy, etc.).  In other words, that which is an empirically valid phenomena, one that is consequential to factor into the equation, does not always fall within the realm of the readily visible.  One might argue, that it is still a question of observation (more to the point, of instrumentation by which to properly observe), and this is a valid point, however if the intention of noting observation has to do with establishing common ground then it’s worth noting that there is often more complexity to this exploration other than reducing all human interaction to a video camera motif.  Case-n-point…

Note the purple CO2 exhausts:

Clip, above, in fuller context:

Vasily Kandinsky Improvisation 28 (second version)Wassily Kandinsky’s Improvisation 28

So often, what may be most significant or impactful to consider, must be seen within a broader context of discernment.  An excellent explanation, grounded in neuroscience, as to how the distinction between observations and interpretations does not fit neatly into that which is always clear cut can be found via Lisa Feldman Barrett | Neuroscientist, Psychologist, and Author directly beneath:

Neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett, author of the book “How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain,” shows how the brain constructs an instance of emotion in this brief clip.

Making Emotion (How Emotions are Made)

Lengthier explanation:

C-SPAN.org – Lisa Feldman Barrett, “How Emotions Are Made”

Experts in Emotion 1.2 — Lisa Feldman Barrett on What is an Emotion

Neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett explains how emotions are made

When Is Speech Violence? – The New York Times

By Lisa Feldman Barrett

Imagine that a bully threatens to punch you in the face. A week later, he walks up to you and breaks your nose with his fist. Which is more harmful: the punch or the threat?

The answer might seem obvious: Physical violence is physically damaging; verbal statements aren’t. “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

But scientifically speaking, it’s not that simple. Words can have a powerful effect on your nervous system. Certain types of adversity, even those involving no physical contact, can make you sickalter your brain — even kill neurons — and shorten your life… (continues)


Thus, if the distinction between interpretation and observation tends more towards the gray rather than the black/white, it’s valuable to ‘learn to see’ mindfully…

“To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle. One thing that helps toward it is to keep a diary, or, at any rate, to keep some kind of record of one’s opinions about important events.” ~ George Orwell: In Front of Your Nose

The Gift That Keeps On Giving: Trigger Translation Journal


In 2006, I was introduced  by Jane Connor to a practice which Marshall Rosenberg used, and I witnessed him use it through the years I knew him.  He kept a 3”x 6” index card folded in half in his pocket, and “he would pull it out from time to time and write down the stimuli that triggered an emotional response in him.”  Later, he said, he processed them, trying to understand the feelings and needs stimulated in himself and guessing what feelings and needs the other person in the situation might have been experiencing.  As Jane commented, “One of the most important aspects of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is becoming aware of our feelings and needs and those of the others in the momentthat we are experiencing them.”  I have been sharing this practice… (continues)

The Steppingstones of Ira Progoff: Bring Together Past, Present, & Future

All quotes in this article are from Progoff’s book At a Journal Workshop: Writing to Access the Power of the Unconscious and Evoke Create Ability, written in 1975.

“The Steppingstones are the significant points of movement along the road of an individual’s life. They stand forth as indicators of the inner connectedness of each person’s existence, a continuity of development that maintains itself despite the vicissitudes and the apparent shifting of directions that occur in the course of a life. The Steppingstones are indicators that enable us to recognize the deeper-than-conscious goals toward which the movement of our lives is trying to take us.”

“…In Steppingstones, we draw out of the jumbled mass of our life experiences, the thin and elusive connective threads that carry our potentials toward a fuller unfolding.

“…By working with the Steppingstones, we make contact with these elusive lines of continuity that are seeking to establish themselves as patterns of meaning in our lives. ”


See, too:  Bill Israel on Progoff

The Progoff Intensive Journal ® Program

About the Method by Ira Progoff

Inchoate | Definition & Pronunciation of Inchoate by Merriam-Webster

Definition of inchoate

  1. :  being only partly in existence or operation :  incipient; especially :  imperfectly formed or formulated :  formless, incoherent misty, inchoate suspicions that all is not well with the nation — J. M. Perry





First known use: 1534



In Front of Your Nose – The New York Times

”We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.” That’s from George Orwell’s 1946 essay ”In Front of Your Nose.”

Gabriela Montero, “Gone with the Wind”

Gabriela Montero – Improvisation on Bach’s Goldberg Variations

Gabriela Montero Improvises “Summertime”

Gabriela Montero, “ExPatria”. A mini-documentary.


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6/17 ~ Crazy Like a Fox (Method to Jackal Madness)

What’s Up Next?

June 4, 2017 ~ Crazy Like a Fox


Hymne joie 01

Ode to Joy, by Beethoven (1824) – Credit:  Kokin

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost.

Martha Graham


Crazy Like a Fox

Identifying Jackal(s) – The Probability Vector

Jackal’s role:  identifying what’s not working.

The jackal raises up from its more slumbering perch when it becomes agitated by what’s not working (detecting a kind of ‘bad faith’ — whether now or in the past) and projects this trajectory, and its potential impact, into the future.  It’s role is as an advocate for greater authenticity (self-honesty, authenticity with others) and a harbinger as to its view of the ‘probability vector’ that we are currently on.  By howling in its “should”/”shouldn’t” dialectic, it’s alerting to likely pitfalls.

Watching the Jackal Show

 Mourning & Beauty of Needs — Keep channel open…

(Courtesy of the work of Robert Gonzales)


Steps Write
1.  Stimulus (observation)

(write out)





2.  Jackal Thoughts

a.  Write the thought
b.  Say aloud with energy!
c.  “I’m telling myself…”

3.  Review the original stimulus

Jackal thoughts:




4.  Self-empathize

a.  Consider stimulus
b.  Name and be with the unmet needs of the stimulus
c.  Name and be with the the feelings around the unmet need
d.  Stay here until you feel a shift towards relaxed, relief.This is the mourning stage.
Unmet needs:




Feelings around unmet needs:




Steps Write:
5.  Experience the beauty of the need. 

Describe your experience of the beauty of the unmet need:  if troubled, remember a time when the need was met, how wonderful that felt.

Beauty of the Need:



6.  Bring beauty of needs awareness to original stimulus.

Notice and write down if any feelings or needs come alive.

(If applicable, make any request related to those feelings and needs.)






Re-cycle through process, if/when necessary (cyclical rather than linear as new jackals get stimulated throughout)

Needs exclude all tangibles, i.e. PLATO – Person, Location, Action, Time or Object

Ode to Joy

Schiller an die freude manuskript 2


Phase Two – Interpersonal

Once connected with that which is longed for, whether in our own lives or another’s, we can fine tune our description by moving from a single word towards crafting a phrase (the calculus practice).

Phrasing Needs

Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

Phrasing Needs

(Between 13 – 23:30 minute mark)

Via the work of Miki Kashtan: “To focus on another challenging line to walk in learning to have fluidity in our communication. It’s the line that separates strategies from needs while still maintaining relevant contextual specificity in the choice of words for needs.  (Have a copy of the needs list available as you do this activity so as to enjoy variety.) Collect a variety of situations in which you are very clear what the preferred strategy is for you or for someone else. For each of them, do the following steps: 1) Write down the strategy minus any evaluation or demand, just exactly what you or the other person wants; 2) Find the need that seems the most relevant to you for this strategy. If this is your preferred strategy, you can usually fully identify the need. If it’s another person’s preferred strategy, just write down your best guess.  This will almost always be just one word from the needs list: autonomy, respect, competence, love, meaning, etc.  3) Find a full phrase consisting of a few words that is specific enough to fit the context and yet is still clearly a need and not a strategy. For example, the needs-phrase of ‘harmony with family members’ vs. the need (word) of ‘harmony’ – and not (the strategy) “to get along with my family.”

[See also:  PLATO]



1) Scenario; 2) Preferred Strategy; 3) [Universal] Need; 4) Phrase



Need (word) – Effectiveness

Need Phrase – Effectiveness of a crisp message

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking at the Civil Rights March on Washington, Aug. 28, 1963.
(Credit: Army images)

Alternate Need Phrase – Effectiveness of large numbers

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses a crowd from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where he delivered his famous, “I Have a Dream,” speech during the Aug. 28, 1963, march on Washington, D.C. (Credit: Marines via Wiki)

See an additional example here:  Phrasing Needs

Example (to experiment with yourself):

Needs List

1) ScenarioMarshall Rosenberg developed a communication process in the 1960s.[3]

2)  Preferred Strategy: Rosenberg opted to call it “Nonviolent Communication”

3) [Universal Human] Need:  __________ –  Needs List

4)  Phrase: ________________________________________

Inquiry:  What Need [#3] and/or Full-Need Phrase [#4] best captures why Marshall Rosenberg might have chosen the name “Nonviolent Communication” [#2] to refer to the dialogue process he developed in the 1960s which paralleled the civil rights & nonviolent resistance movements of that era [#1]?

Via the CNVC.org website:

Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is based on the principles of nonviolence — the natural state of compassion when no violence is present in the heart.  NVC begins by assuming that we are all compassionate by nature and that violent strategies—whether verbal or physical—are learned behaviors taught and supported by the prevailing culture. NVC also assumes that we all share the same, basic human needs, and that each of our actions are a strategy to meet one or more of these needs.  People who practice NVC have found greater authenticity in their communication, increased understanding, deepening connection and conflict resolution.

President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with Martin Luther King, Jr. at the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (Credit: Yoichi Okamoto via Wikimedia Commons)

Courtesy of ~ Need vs. Strategy or request – NVCWiki

Need vs. Strategy or request

Need Strategy / Request
Abstract, no reference to a specific person, action or time Specific, doable, observable behaviour
Needs are a-scriptive, it is difficult to put words on what is also described as “the universal energy that connects all of us”. Need language is probably the closest we can get to verbally describe this universal energy. Descriptive
What I want to have fulfilled What I want others or myself to do

Phrase to exclude all tangibles, i.e. PLATO – Person, Location, Action, Time or Object

martha_graham_by_nickolas_murayPortrait of Martha Graham by Nickolas Muray
 I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. in each it is the performance of a dedicated set of acts, physical or intellectual, from which comes the shape of achievement, a sense of one’s being, a satisfaction of spirit. One becomes in some areas an athlete of God. ~ Martha Graham

Utilizing “Universal-Need-Full-Phrase” in Role Plays:

1. Engage in more role plays — here’s the basic outline:

a. In a particular scenario, think of your preferred strategy, and translate it into a full-phrase need.

i. Find the underlying need that is expressed through this strategy.
ii. Fit this need into a full-phrase need that is specific to the context and the truth of the moment without including specific people, location, action, time, or object [PLATO].
iii. If you find that elements of strategy are still present, look for a deeper need that is informing the need you previously identified.  For example, sometimes clarity can be a strategy for safety. Once you find a deeper need, it will usually be easier to find a strategy free contextualized full-phrase need.

b. Communicate as fluidly as possible to your dialogic/role-play partner as that other person. Remember to include a request.

c. Have your dialogic/role-play partner respond as the other person, without use of NVC.

d. Apply the same process to what the other person says to respond empathically:

i. Find a full-phrase need underlying whatever they said, be it strategy, judgment, demand, or anything else.
ii. Put that need in an empathic guess without the words feeling or need.

e. Continue in this slow-motion kind of dialogue, choosing empathy or expression in each round.

2. Offer each other empathy for whatever you want that kind of attention, and every few moments pause the process and find the full-phrase need that would fit the context. Once you reach fluency, the goal is to focus on full-phrase need language most of the time.

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5/17 ~ On Long Neckin’ & Anticipatory Beneficial Regret


What’s Up Next?

May 14, 2017 ~ On Long Neckin’ [Homo Prospectus]
& (Anticipatory) Beneficial Regret

Flickr - Rainbirder - High-rise living.jpgSteve Garvie –
High-rise living

“We are misnamed. We call ourselves Homo sapiens, the “wise man,” but that’s more of a boast than a description. What makes us wise? What sets us apart from other animals? …A more apt name for our species would be Homo prospectus, because we thrive by considering our prospects. The power of prospection is what makes us wise.” ~ Martin E. P. Seligman


How do you learn from the past and/or apply lessons learned — ‘beneficial regret’ — towards the future (while staying grounded in the present moment)?  We’ll explore how needs-consciousness & NVC skills can be useful in processing more painful emotions.

Credit:  Havang(nl) (via Wikimedia Commons)

“To dwell in the here and now does not mean you never think about the past or responsibly plan for the future. The idea is simply not to allow yourself to get lost in regrets about the past or worries about the future. If you are firmly grounded in the present moment, the past can be an object of inquiry, the object of your mindfulness and concentration. You can attain many insights by looking into the past. But you are still grounded in the present moment.”
Thich Nhat Hanh, The Art of Power

(Via Wiki: Team Naked Pictures of Be a Arthur)

(beneath is courtesy of the work of Jim and Jori Manske)

Beneficial regret

Acknowledging and learning from one’s missed opportunity to meet needs, without guilt, shame, or self-punishment.

(via Matrix)

Positive Intent | Need Missed

Action Taken (as observation) Positive Intent – Related Need(s) Need(s) Not Attended To
Arriving later than time agreed to Efficacy (completed task) Consideration (of another)
 Did not do _____  Need X Need Y
 Said, “______”  Need X Need Y

Which need animated your conduct (positive intent)?
Which need wasn’t attended to in how things unfolded?

Sustenance  Order Belonging Meaning  Transcendence
Security  Love  To Matter Honesty  Freedom  

Needs consciousness

Awareness of (and the willingness to honor) needs, the essential universal elemental qualities of life (like sustenance, love and meaning).

(via Matrix)

“We may believe that mistakes have been made already and that we cannot go back to the past to change things. When we look deeply into the relative nature of time, we see that the past has created the present. If we seize the present moment with mindfulness, we are in touch with the past. We can actually go back to the past, while staying firmly rooted in the present moment, and heal the past. We forgive ourselves for our mistakes, knowing we didn’t have enough wisdom or the right conditions at that time to do better. We transform our regrets in the present into compassion and understanding, and in this way we also transform the past.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh, Savor


Matrix | Pathways to Liberation

Beneficial regret: Acknowledging and learning from oneʹs missed opportunity to meet needs, without guilt, shame, or self‐punishment.

Unskilled:  Takes responsibility for the feelings of others with guilt and/or shame, or defends oneself; apologizes to protect oneself by assuaging anotherʹs feelings.

Awakening:  Newfound awareness that othersʹ  feelings are caused by their needs, and may want others to ʺget over it”. Heightened awareness of habit of self‐ blame.

Capable:  Increasing ability to transform guilt into learning. Fostering willingness to seek connection with others (with empathy and honesty) when events did not work for others.

Integrated:  Consistent willingness to openly own oneʹs part in outcomes that did not meet needs; willingness to feel and express regret; seeks learning and growth.

Credit:  Sidney Smith (1877-1935)

We Aren’t Built to Live in the Moment – The New York Times

We are misnamed. We call ourselves Homo sapiens, the “wise man,” but that’s more of a boast than a description. What makes us wise? What sets us apart from other animals? Various answers have been proposed — language, tools, cooperation, culture, tasting bad to predators — but none is unique to humans.

What best distinguishes our species is an ability that scientists are just beginning to appreciate: We contemplate the future. Our singular foresight created civilization and sustains society. It usually lifts our spirits, but it’s also the source of most depression and anxiety, whether we’re evaluating our own lives or worrying about the nation.  Other animals have springtime rituals for educating the young, but only we subject them to “commencement” speeches grandly informing them that today is the first day of the rest of their lives.

A more apt name for our species would be Homo prospectus, because we thrive by considering our prospects. The power of prospection is what makes us wise. Looking into the future, consciously and unconsciously, is a central function of our large brain, as psychologists and neuroscientists have discovered — rather belatedly, because for the past century most researchers have assumed that we’re prisoners of the past and the present…(continues)

The giraffe ‘neck-shortening’ cartoon further up and neck-elongating video clip below…

…Reminded me of one of the symbolic reasons as to why Marshall Rosenberg chose the long-necked giraffe: the evolutionary adaptive trait of being able to see far out into the distance — as is described in the video beneath:  seeing the “big picture”, taking the “long view” — as a characteristic of choosing our words wisely (considering their potential impact, in advance).  I’ve heard it said that other animals will gather around a watering hole, when a giraffe is present, as there is a sense of trust that they have scoped the surrounding terrain and deemed it safe.

In a sense, these evolutionary traits, the long-neck and large heart, offered Marshall a symbolic shorthand for conveying the intent of communicating with NVC consciousness in mind.  To choose one’s words with the long view and from a big-hearted (or emotionally connected) orientation to life.

(Courtesy of Etan J. Tal via Wikimedia Commons)

One of the stories told during the time of Marshall’s memorial was by Dominic Barter when he spoke of hitch hiking from England to Marshall’s residence, then in Switzerland, and having Marshall pose the question of ‘what is the evolutionary value of emotions?’  In an NVC context, of course, our feelings are akin to our nerve endings, by alerting us to pain, our emotions can help us make adjustments (away from the too hot stove or any similarly destructive scenario).  Dominic, who had been studying anatomy and physiology at the time (in a formal academic setting), was struck by how in all his previous, more ‘high brow’ consideration of the human organism, that fundamental truth (emotions ‘raison d’être’) had gone unremarked.

While it may have been noted that those with a kind of brain damage that effects their emotional range might have difficulty with discernment and judgment, the direct linkage of our emotions as ‘nerve-ending’ like indicators of what we are valuing (a.k.a. universal human needs), at any given moment, was’t even a blip on the proverbial scholarly radar.

Feelings awareness

Ability to identify and experience our physical sensations and emotions.

(via Matrix)

Evolutionary function of Feelings —–> Needs

The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989) – “Feelings” Is Parsley


Transforming the suffering of loss; letting go of resistance to what is, and being willing to allow our experience to unfold.

(via Matrix)

 Joanna Macy – Embracing Pain

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4/17 ~ On Being All Ears


What’s Up Next?

(Courtesy of Holger Motzkau)

April 2017 ~ On Being All Ears
(& the Dynamism of Universal Human Needs)

Russian figure skater wins gold with program that included audio from 9/11


A jest’s prosperity lies in the ear
Of him that hear it, never in the tongue
Of him that makes it…

~ William Shakespeare
Act 5, Scene II of Love’s Labour’s Lost

Courtesy of Irina Polikanova (via Wikimedia Commons)


How do you speak into the listening of others?

Practice:  Write down a stimulus, as an observation, and then notice how your interpretation morphs as you journal four differing evaluative contexts (of jackal/giraffe ears, both outward/in).

Handout for Sunday’s tele-practice group:

Communication Flow Chart (2nd page)
&/or Jackal/Giraffe Ears – Four Choices

(Building on our experimentation with strengths & learning/growing edges, we’ll continue to explore the NVC skills which might help transfigure —  Strength/Edge_Worksheet — the listening context that we lend, both to ourselves and others.)

Anubis mask (courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

 Thich Nhat Hahn:
We need someone to be able to listen to us and to understand us. Then, we will suffer less. But everyone is suffering, and no one wants to listen.

Four Choices When Hearing a Difficult Message

Judgmental (Jackal) Ears Out

Blame or Criticize the other person

“It’s your fault.”
“You’re bad/wrong.”
“You should____.”

(Voice of Anger)

Judgmental (Jackal) Ears In

Blame or criticize yourself

“It’s my fault.”
“I’m bad/wrong.”
“I should_____.”

(Voice of Guilt, Shame, Depression)

Generative (Giraffe) Ears In

Connect to your internal experience

“I’m feeling__________ because I need/value____________.”

(Voice of Self-Empathy)

Generative (Giraffe) Ears Out

Connect to the underlying cause of the other’ s communication

“Are you feeling________ because you value/need____________?”

(Voice of Empathy)

FYI ~ Here is a link to the recording from “Recovering from Reactivity” (utilizing the giraffe/jackal ears handout:  Four Choices.pdf) via a  free webinar courtesy of Jim & Jori Manske
papilio_polymnestor-kadavoor-2016-07-27-002“Papilio polymnestor-Kadavoor-2016-07-27-002” © Jee & Rani Nature Photography is used here under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License – Life cycle of Papilio machaon

For as Thich Nhat Hahn reminds us:
Listening is a very deep practice… you have to empty yourself. You have to leave space in order to listen… especially to people we think are our enemies — the ones we believe are making our situation worse. When you have shown your capacity for listening and understanding, the other person will begin to listen to you, and you have a chance to tell him or her of your pain, and then it’s your turn to get healed. This is the practice of peace.


From the book, The Power of Kindness by Piero Ferrucci, which begins a chapter on empathy with this instrumental analogy:

“Although I am not a musician, I once had the opportunity to hold in my hands an exquisitely made violin dating to the eighteenth century.  What amazed me, even more than its harmonious lines or the beautiful grain of its wood, was that, holding it, I could feel it vibrate.  It was not an inert object.  It resonated with the various sounds that happened to resonate around it:  another violin, a tram passing in the street, a human voice.  If you hold an ordinary, factory-made violin, that just doesn’t happen.  There can be hundreds of sounds around it and the violin remains numb.  In order to obtain that fine sensitivity and extraordinary resonance of the old violin, the makers had to had an exceptional knowledge of wood and its seasoning; they were supported by the artisan tradition of generations, and they were endowed with the talent of cutting the wood and furnishing the instrument.  This marvelous responsiveness is an active virtue.  It is the capacity of the violin to enter into resonance, and it goes hand in hand with its capacity to create sound of extraordinary quality — music with a soul, able to move and to inspire.  We human are, or at least can be, like that violin.”

FT:  Putin’s cellist friend ‘interested only in musical instruments’

Guardian:  Sergei Roldugin, the cellist who holds the key to tracing Putin’s hidden fortune

WaPo:  Trump Foundation admits to violating ban on ‘self-dealing’

The “invisible foot” ensures us that in a free-market … economy each person pursuing only his own good will automatically, and most efficiently, do his part in maximizing the general public misery. ” ~ E. K. Hunt

 “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
~ Epictetus

Giraffes facing extinction after devastating decline – The Guardian

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3/17 ~ More on our Learning Curves (Rounding Edges w/ Strengths)

What’s Up Next?

March 2017 ~ More on our Learning Curves
(Rounding Edges w/ Strengths)

(Bookbinding via Simon A. Eugster)


What are your strengths and/or (learning/growing) edges?  Have you identified which NVC skills, currently under your belt, might buttress those yet beyond your grasp (e.g. using “presence” to fortify “feelings-awareness” etc.)?

Handout for Sunday’s tele-practice group:  Strength/Edge_Worksheet


We’ll experiment with differing strength/edge skill pairings during the dialogue lab (w/ iGiraffe) portion of our call:

Alternate_iGiraffe (remote_control)

(Wikimedia Commons Figure Skating Edges courtesy of Hergilei)

Strength or Edge?  e.g. Try divvying up (into the two columns beneath) which of these handful of Matrix skills you consider to be either a strength &/or edge:  Presence;  Observing;  Feelings-Awareness;  Needs-Consciousness;  Request-Consciousness & Making Requests;  Honest Self-Expression;  Empathy;  Patience;  Reconnecting-to-Self & Recovering-from-Reactivity

Strength      |           Edge    



Recovering from Reactivity

Presence  Observing  Feelings-Awareness  Needs-Consciousness  Requests
Honest Self-Expression  Empathy   Patience Recovering from Reactivity  Self-Acceptance  

What’s an edge that you would like to build upon?
(Pick a complementary strength that might support you in developing this skill.)

Pathways to Liberation – Matrix

Listen to a (free) recording of one way to use the Matrix here.


Pathways to Liberation Self Assessment Matrix v1 2.pdf
Pathways to Liberation Self Assessment Matrix v1 2 large.pdf

Three Necessities for Integrating NVC

An individually crafted practice
to support integrating NVC in your life.

1. Identify an edge
2. Identify a strength

(Consider, how can you use your strength to support your edge?)

Skills to consider:

Feelings -Awareness
Recovering from Reactivity
Making Requests Empathy
Honest Self-Expression

Strength/Edge practice originated with Jim & Jori Manske via 1) Radical Compassion – Matrix & 2) Taste of Compassionate Leadership Free Teleclass – NVC Academy – see last slide of their handout here – [PDF].

Here is the link to the audio recording of their (free) 2/25/17 call.

Per Newsletter:  This is a taste of what the NVC Academy library offers.  Click here to explore the library more fully.  To support NVC Academy’s mission of making NVC available to everyone who wants it, please donate here.  The Manskes will be teaching a free class on the 4th Saturday of March (March 25th) to explore “Recovering From Reactivity” (register here).

The Flight Simulator – Mediate Your Life

(WikiMedia Commons: United States Air Force – Master Sgt. Jeffrey Allen)

Lastly, try identifying a practice (e.g. Three-Layers-of-Empathy) that may support you in utilizing a strength [e.g. needs-consciousness] to fortify an edge [e.g. recovering from reactivity] in this instance, towards ‘taking it down a notch’ — from a warmer to cooler hue:

Red, Yellow, Green


Fleshing out the concept of ‘needs-consciousness’ (via Robert Gonzales)

Transforming the Pain of Unmet Needs to the Beauty of Needs

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” 


Robert Gonzales on the Beauty Of Needs

The Essential Living Energy of Needs

There is only one life energy, one life force. Everything in existence has the same life energy flowing through us. Needs are qualitative, an expression of our life energy. All needs are forms of life itself.

See the person’s longing, their need, whenever you are interacting with another person. We can learn to have compassion for ourselves – we invite and listen to the pain. At the heart of the pain is that part of us which wants to be seen and heard and invited. Compassionately accept whatever arises in yourself. So you can compassionately accept whatever arises in the other person.

Needs are an aspect or an expression of the energy of life. We experience the beauty of a need when we are in contact with the quality of its energy.

Developing the ability to focus our attention on and intention to connect to the life energy within needs is one of the most important abilities we develop within NVC. This practice is the embodied spirituality of NVC: in touch with our essence, we follow the longing, the yearning to experience this quality of the ecstatic flow of life. When we do this, we are in touch with the need in an embodied way, we experience its qualities, its essence, how it feels when that need is met and how we experience this “met-ness” in our body, emotions, and in our very being.

(Via Notes from a Workshop with Robert Gonzales – courtesy of Diane Emerson)

Learn to value Beauty/Living-Energy-of-Needs (Aliveness) more than:

  • being right
  • getting what you want in the moment
  • Learn that no one can take ALIVENESS from you


Past Experience

Physical Awareness

Emotional Awareness



Being at the center of one’s own life
(Plato’s idea of perception courtesy of RobinHEnglish Wikibooks)

Needs vs. Strategies


If you have any one of the above five (more temporal, tangible) qualities, than what you are focused on is most likely a strategy — rather than a need.

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2/17 ~ Our Corners-n-Edges

What’s Up Next?


February 2017 ~ Our Corners & Edges

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” 


What are your conversational street signs (e.g. OFNRRed/Green/Yellow)?  Rules of the road (e.g. [NVC] Communication Flow Chart)?  How do you stay in your own lane (e.g. Self-Connection Process)?


Tools for this week’s practice group:

Jean Béraud (Walters Art Museum)

Institute for Mindfulness:

Image result for nvc focuses on two questions

Giraffe Fighting:

Reflect on moments of tensions that you’ve experienced…

  • Write down an observation/stimulus (or several) from such exchanges.
  • Track what were the specific moments, or corners, when these interactions shifted in tone (through the Red, Green, Yellow light spectrum — see Chapman’s “Mindful Communication” beneath)?
  • How did your responses attend to ‘what’s alive’ (your own needs/values)?  How not?
  • How did your responses attend to what the other may have been valuing?  How not?
  • Going forward, identify your ‘strategic discomfort zones’ (growing edges), noting how you might more fully attend to ‘what’s alive’ both in yourself and others (i.e. with greater presence to all of the universal-human-needs on the table).
  • Can you envision what might have ‘made life more wonderful’ (strategies that might have served both sets of needs)?

“The course of conflict isn’t determined by the person who initiates but by the person who responds.” ~ Mozart In The Jungle

(Photo above courtesy of Wiki Commons via Arriva436)

(Accepting Limitations While Simultaneously Stretching) — About 5 minutes in… Being mindful of our ‘strategic discomfort’ (our growing edges)

Wanting Fully Without Attachment – Tikkun Magazine

National Archives and Records Administration

In her book on The Five Keys to Mindful CommunicationSusan Gillis Chapman writes about communication that is closed (red light), open (green light), or somewhere-in-between (yellow light).  Initially, Chapman suggest, it’s useful to cultivate an awareness of the more obvious states: green/open & red/closed.  The yellow light is a more nuanced state, often imperceptible (unless mindful), however it may also hold greater potential for increasing our communicative efficacy.


The Five Keys To Mindful Communication (book’s study guidelines)

Delineating Susan Chapman’s five essential elements of mindful communication:

• Mindful Presence (awake body, tender heart, open mind)
• Mindful Listening (encouragement)
• Mindful Speech (gentleness)
• Mindful Relationships (unconditional friendliness)
• Mindful Responses (playfulness)

See also:  The Five Keys to Mindful Communication


Triune Brain – Interpersonal Neurobiology

(Image courtesy of Wiki Commons – ManosHacker)

“First, I realized how I distort my view of other people when I’m reacting defensively. I also saw that when I can open up and see another person in a fresh way, my own self-image transforms. On the surface, these two insights might not seem to be that a big deal. Not as exciting as a dog and a hungry bear rolling in play.* But learning how to switch out of defensiveness into a more humorous, receptive state of mind is a big deal – it is the key to happy, harmonious relationships and communities.”  (Chapman’s “The Five Keys to Mindful Communication”, p. 3)

FYI ~ Polar Bear Plays with Sled Dogs : snopes.com

*The photos circulating around the Internet were of a polar bear and a dog playing together.  I first saw them in a National Geographic magazine many years ago and was captivated by the story.  A dog named Churchill was tied up to a stake in the ice.  His owner spotted a starving bear, just out of hibernation, through the window of his cabin.  He watched in horror as the bear approached his dog.  Feeling powerless to protect his pet from certain death, he grabbed his camera and snapped pictures of the scene unfolding before his eyes.  But to his amazement, what he ended up witnessing was how Churchill saved his own life.  As the bear lumbered toward him, Churchill crouched down and wagged his tail.  In spite of his ravenous hunger, the bear responded to the signal and switched from predator to playmate.  One of the photos shows Churchill and the bear embraced in an affectionate hug as they tumbled and rolled around on the ice.  Then the huge polar bear turned and ambled away.  Over the next few days, the bear returned to the site several times to play with his new friend.  The National Geographic photo essay came into my life at the right moment.  I had been preparing to teach a series of workshops on mindful communication, where students would learn practical skills in bringing awareness, insight, compassion, and choice to their communication…”
~ Susan Gillis Chapman

Bull and bear in front of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (Photo courtesy of Eva K.)

 Continuum (& related exercise) beneath via

NYCNVC – The New York Center for Nonviolent Communication

The Exercise – Shifting Toward Compassion

Even though this is an online exercise, you still need a pen or pencil and a piece of paper with a blank side. I created this exercise so people can have what I call a “Shift”. By that I mean experience a “shift” in what you are thinking about and a shift in how you feel. Read More …


The Connection Continuum:
<<< You and I (always moving back and forth) >>>


rage, disconnection and violence                                 connection, compassion, peace

Note parallel between Mindful Communication’s “Green Light” (above)
the NVC’s “Zero Step” (below)


Taste of Compassionate Leadership Free Teleclass – NVC Academy


Characteristics of the Zero Step:

• Warmth toward self and other
• Care for the vitality of both yourself and other(s)
• Wonder/Interest
• Vulnerability/Empathy
• Which leads directly to Connection Requests
• Openness to Outcome

More notes on “Zero Step” here.  (Recording of Zero Step presentation by Manskes, January 2017:  Download Recording)

Four Steps of NVC

“In the field of observation, chance favors the prepared mind.”
Louis Pasteur

NVC Model

empathetically listening:





honestly expressing:







What is Mindful Communication?

Additional videos:  Green Zone Communication (videos)

Three green-light faculties as the basis for mindfulness practice:

• Awake body, the ability to pay attention
• Tender heart, the ability to empathize with others
• Open mind, the ability to be honest, curious, and insightful.


Red Light

Notice when you’ve become defensive and closed off. Be careful. Communicating in this zone can lead to difficult and painful reactions.

Yellow Light

Pay attention to the limbo between open and closed. Relax with the uncertainty. Pause, reflect, linger there, and let possibilities emerge.

Green Light

When your state of mind is open, feel free to explore your connection with others. Share. Learn. Change. Expand.

Susan Chapman – Mindful Communication poster

The Three Lights

In my mindful-communication workshops, the metaphor we use to notice whether communication is closed, open, or somewhere in-between, is the changing traffic light. When the channel of communication closes down, we imagine the light has turned red. When communications feels open again, we say the light has turned green. When communication feels in between, or on the verge of closing down, we say the light has turned yellow. Participants find that the changing-traffic-light imagery helps them identify their various styles of communication, and to recognize the consequences of each.

We use the green and red lights to highlight open and closed patterns because this isn’t something we normally track. Once those are clear, we zero in on the in-between stage of the yellow light. Following is a brief overview of what the lights mean. The red light indicates that communication has shut down… (continues)

Mindful Communication – Which of Our Emotions are Accurate?


Excerpted from Chapman’s The Five Keys to Mindful Communication: Using Deep Listening and Mindful Speech to Strengthen Relationships, Heal Conflicts, and Accomplish Your Goals:

“The yellow light describes the period in between the green and red light, the gap of groundlessness that occurs just before communication shuts down. We’ve been caught off guard and we feel embarrassed, irritated, or disappointed by an unexpected event. Below the surface of these reactions, deeper fears and self-doubts are exposed. If we can meet these fears with gentle insight, using mindfulness practice, we can intercept our red-light triggers…” (continues)

Susan Chapman – online class, “working with fear”


Susan Chapman on how “green zones” help us to identify our projections

Open/Closed emotions & how to reconnect to the “Natural Communication System”

Susan Chapman is a marriage and family therapist and author who presents training programs applying mindfulness to conversations, relationships and communities.

Resources:  Green Zone Conversations – Green Light Institute

Click to hear interviews with Susan Chapman

See too:  What is Mindful Communication


In a World in Crisis – Mindful Communication Matters

“Our survival as a species depends on our ability to recognize that our well-being and the well-being of others are in fact one and the same.”
~ Marshall Rosenberg

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1/17 ~ Reflection & Renewal

What’s Up Next?

January 2017 ~ Reflection & Renewal

François Barraud – La Tailleuse de Soupe


Do you have any New Year’s dialogic intentions?  Such as a quality of NVC consciousness that you are drawn to, perhaps wanting to cultivate and more skillfully integrate (by this time, next year)?  How might you go about this (what ritual might support you as a practitioner)?


Try reviewing the Self-Assessment Matrix
(see more, below) to see if any one skill jumps out at you.

(e.g.  ‘Presence’)

For simplicity’s sake:

Matrix co-creators Jim & Jori Manske have suggested these five skills  as “easy ways to integrate NVC, anywhere/everywhere”:

  • Presence

  • Observing

  • Feelings Awareness

  • Needs-Consciousness

  • Gratitude

Notice how each of the skills above can also be complementary in our capacity for growth with another skill — e.g. distinguishing between observation and interpretation can lend itself to cultivating presence (wanting-fully-without-attachment) or sensing into our ‘feelings awareness’ can naturally flow into a heightened state of ‘needs-consciousness’ etc.

These skills are further delineated by clicking on the chart beneath:

Four Competencies of NVC (Consciousness) ~
Unskilled, Awakening, Capable & Integrated:

Self-Assessment Matrix

Listen to a (free) recording of one way to use the Matrix here.

Matrix small

Via CNVC.org:  This document comes in two sizes, they contain the same information.
The large version is on eight pages and the other version is on four pages.

Pathways to Liberation Self Assessment Matrix v1 2.pdf
Pathways to Liberation Self Assessment Matrix v1 2 large.pdf

I’ve structured much of the tele-conference to reinforce some of the rituals that I use to buttress my NVC practice (& capacity for ‘presence’).  For example, the four stations of Joanna Macy’s spiral (which serves as an outline for the call’s format) closely parallels the Mediate Your Life Practice honed by Ike Lasater and John Kinyon of Mourn, Celebrate, and Learn (MCL) (an NVC mediation process).  Similarly, I’ve adapted their Self-Connection Process: Breath/Body/Need which then routinely gets employed, on our call, in both an abbreviated and a more lengthy form.

One way that I’ve also found it useful to lean into a growing edge is to begin with something simpler, such as Mourn/Celebrate/Learn or Breath/Body/Need (or Inquiry) and then once that practice is under one’s proverbial belt, to expand upon it.  So, for example, one could tack on a repair action-step (along the lines suggested by IPNB guidelines for secure attachment/trust), or even the option of brainstorming possible repairs, at the conclusion of an MCL process.  Similarly, to deepen the process of Breath/Body/Need, one could intermingle some of the skills of Focusing, such as getting a ‘felt sense’ (and/or handle).  Or of utilizing Inner Relationship Focusing’s (IRF) ‘presence language’…

Here’s an example of an intention (read, ritual) that I’m currently engaged with — at least making the attempt to ingrain it a bit more consciously in the coming year (as fodder for thought for your own exploration/integration).  As with any mindfulness practice, it’s a practice of bringing one’s awareness back into focus (so-to-speak) once you’ve noticed that it’s wandered…

NVC & Inner Relationship Focusing

Free Resources For Powerful Change, Focusing Resources Free Library

Chardin, Jean-Siméon – Vegetables for the Soup

Inner Relationship Focusing [PDF] – “Presence Language”

Identified Language vs. Presence Language

Identified Language:

“I am angry.”
“I am terrified.”
“I feel so frustrated by what she did.”

Presence Language:

“I’m sensing something in me is angry.”
“I’m sensing something in me is terrified.”
“I’m sensing something in me feels so frustrated by what she did.”

If you’ve ever encountered the modality of [Inner Relationship] Focusing and wondered how it might complement self-connection/self-empathy, here is link to another video clip of Gina Censiose on Embodying Our Needs (Embodying Our Needs (rather than needs as a ‘story-we’re-telling-ourselves’).

Here’s an appetizer:

“I’m going in with a full quality of presence to myself and saying to whatever is there, ‘yes, I want to hear you’. Whether my mind thinks it’s garbage, it’s worthless, other people won’t like it. I will treasure it, in the moment, right now… And that I think allows for that space to unfold. There is a kind of inner relaxing where things will come up because they’re not being judged as bad or this isn’t acceptable. Doesn’t mean I have to share it with other people. But it means that when I am with other people I will be aware of these parts of myself and holding them lovingly and not projecting them either unconsciously onto other people by saying a sweet OFNR that is not at all true or that I’m trying to be nice by using OFNR — and that is obviously a beautiful learning curve in NVC — at the beginning you try OFNR and you see it doesn’t work (people do a two day intro and say, ‘hey, it didn’t work’) …Well, if the intention or reorientation of your heart hasn’t changed, it’s not changing your language that will change anything in life…It’s not the phrasing, it’s never the phrasing, it’s your intention.” ~ Gina Censoise

For the excerpt above in its fuller/video context, click here: http://www.nvctraining.com/media/GC/TP-key-diffs-200812

DOROTHEUMGiuseppe Costantini Die wärmende Suppe

“If you want to know what the soup smells like,
it’s better not to stick your head in it.”
– Eugene Gendlin

Relatively recently, Shulamit Day Berlevtov gave a presentation in which she recalled a quote from Focusing’s originator, Eugene Gendlin (see above).

It struck a rather idiosyncratic chord in me (this time around, despite having heard it before), serving as a reminder of the value of cultivating presence-of-mind towards a greater capacity for discernment; and how by employing a ritual utilization of presence language, I may have a bit more perspective from time to time (thus not becoming as easily mired in the slippery slope of interpersonal dynamics gone awry).  I see it as holding potential in my quest to ‘mediate-our-lives’ by potentially cultivating what in IRF circles is referred to as ‘self-in-presence’ in order to better mediate our internal conflicts which would then prepare us to engage more constructively with those external conflicts as well.

Self-in-presence: an experiential introduction

by  | Jul 6, 2014 |

A friend has asked me to write about “self-in-presence in plain English.” Self-in-presence is a concept from Inner Relationship Focusing. It refers to a skill or capacity, as well as an experience, that creates the conditions for physically felt inner data-wisdom-information to come into a person’s awareness.

Einstein is quoted as saying, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Whether or not he actually said it, the idea is significant. Inner data can play an imporant role in taking us beyond what we already know and toward new, present-moment information that can be applied to day-to-day living. This enables us to make choices and take actions in life that are more self-connected, rather than following along with what is already known–either from socialized habits and ideas, or from our own thinking about issues and situations.

Because self-in-presence is a pre-requisite for access to this inner data or wisdom, much of the early learning in Inner Relationship Focusing attends to cultivating self-in-presence and its related inner attitudes. In this post, I’ll outline an exercise that will provide an experience of self-in-presence… (continues)


viejos_comiendo_sopaViejos comiendo sopa

FYI ~ Shula has offered access to a free e-book which guides how to incorporate the ‘presence language’ of Inner Relationship Focusing into one’s self-connection process:  Click here to receive a free e-book

Step-by-step guide to transforming stress with kindness

Shulamit Ber Levtov

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Institute for Mindfulness

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Street Giraffes – Contact Info.

(Via Wiki: Roland H. The endangered West African giraffe)

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