Thoughts on Hate and Charlottesville

The practice of nonviolent communication has never seemed more urgent – or relevant, than it does at the present moment in our history. The reason for this seems to be embodied in the peace practice  of the Haudenosaunee , the great Native American federation of tribes.  They recognized two really important concepts that we would be wise to try to remember, that all things are interconnected, that the past present and future coexist and that in our hearts, in our passions, and in our perspective,  we carry seven generations.

Posted on May 8, 2019 .

Reflections on Living Compassion Retreat with Robert Gonzales

cave-water-blue-marble-cave-marble-undermines-393356-e1519052619945.jpg

February 19th, 2018
Janine Harris Degitz

As I was thinking about Robert Gonzales’s upcoming retreat in Columbus, Ohio, in May 2018, I wondered what the best way would be to describe the retreat and the work of living compassion. Over the past 10 years of knowing and studying with Robert, I haven’t experienced him as a teacher, a guru, mystic or spiritual leader, but as a companion on this journey of discovering how to live life more fully activated and free.

“To fully empower our place in life, our engagement in life, we must first find, cultivate and strengthen the center from which we engage with life. The center where our values lie, our heart center, the center of our life force energy as it flows through us. When we act from our center, fueled by love, we start to harness a force that is beyond what we’ve known as possible.”
— Robert Gonzales

An image of a spelunking journey down into a cave came to me, with Robert being one of many that shines his light so that we all can more clearly see our internal and thereby external relationship to the world. His commitment to living compassion and sharing what he has learned along the way has had a significant influence on my life. He continues to bring my attention back to an ongoing inquiry: What is my relationship to life? Where is my attention? How do my habitual patterns of living life show up in my body? Do I tend to live from fear and judgement?

Just as we don’t go caving alone and navigate the myriad of difficulties without support. This work of living compassion requires us to enhance our community-building skills, create a variety of support networks and strengthen our embodiment and consciousness to create a lasting impact on our day to day lives.

I don’t know about you, but my own early training in relationships, community-building, communication and compassion (both for self and others) was limited. In fact, our education in North America is steeped with messages of independence, self-consciousness, blame and shame, and right/wrong thinking. We are trained to analyze, label and diagnose, and we are conditioned to disengage from our body’s energy and rely on our thinking brain to solve all of our problems. All of these habits, behaviors and thinking take us away from “what is” in this moment and distract us from feeling the truth of our experiences and seeing our shared common humanity.

Things happen in life, and my experience has been no different than many others. The serious illness of my 5-year-old daughter, the traumatic brain injury of another, my own health crisis. This work of living compassion is the recognition that no matter what is happening in our inner life – whether it be fear, joy, anger, or grief – it is an aliveness that is pointing to something that matters to us in relationship to life itself. As Robert mentions, the illusion of a separate inner and outer life is quite strong in our culture – we are always in relationship to life. There can be no separation.

If you have been wondering if there is another way of engaging in the world during this time of social and political divisiveness that is empowering instead of reactive, this retreat will inspire new skills and consciousness. Robert will offer a variety of exercises on how to recognize when you are stuck in fear, protection and judgement and restore your capacity to choose to engage from a grounded, value-centered place. There will be opportunity to explore and co-create with a community of learners, to strengthen the very muscles we all need to live life more fully activated and free.

Give yourself this time to explore your relationship and engagement in your life through attending the upcoming week-long retreat with Robert Gonzales in May 2018. This retreat will be filled with opportunities to work in dyads, group opening and closing circles, journaling, art expression, movement and silent integration in the natural world.

For more information about the retreat and registration, click here:  Compassionate Communication Center of Ohio.

 

This article was originally published on restorativeliving.org. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author:

Janine Harris Degitz. Janine has been studying Nonviolent Communication (NVC) since 2005 with a focus on Robert Gonzales’s work of Living Compassion. In addition to NVC Janine has been studying conflict resolution, community building, mediation and restorative justice practices for the past 20 + years. She earned a Master’s degree in Restorative Practices from the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Embodiment as her guide, Janine has been deeply influenced and is a facilitator of the work of Philip Shepherd – The Embodied Present Process (TEPP), Marcia Miller – Urban Zen Integrative Therapy (UZIT) and Gunther Hauk – Spikenard Honey Bee Sanctuary. You can find more information about Janine at her website: www.restorativeliving.org

Posted on March 13, 2019 .

Erase the Space: An initiative to get kids talking across difference

unnamed-1.jpg

May 28, 2018

I experienced an amazing event today at the Columbus College of Art Design (CCAD), the hosts of an Erase the Space event. Erase the Space is a civil program that brings high school students together from different communities and schools in the Columbus area to talk about common challenges students have, through the lens of civil discourse.

Amelia and Derek, teachers from South High School and Liberty High School came up with this innovative idea through their Master’s degree fellowship at the Bread Loaf School of English. Little did they know that the idea they conceived would draw the attention and support of the Columbus Foundation, teachers from across Columbus and the faculty and graduate students from CCAD.

When Derek first reached out to Compassionate Communication Center of Ohio (CCCO) a few months ago, he shared that he was deeply inspired by the work of Compassionate Nonviolent Communication (NVC). He had been reading and watching videos about the work online. He told me he wanted the principles and practices of NVC to be a central part of supporting students in having conversations across social, economic and cultural differences. He imagined NVC could offer much-needed core competencies on empathic listening, a method of listening in which the other person feels heard, understood and confident to speak honestly from a compassionate stance.

It was interesting to see the commonalities of activities from the structural design teams at CCAD and NVC. The core of both practices is focusing on getting to the heart of the needs. The focus of the morning exercises were diving a little deeper into understanding the other students’ challenges while focusing on needs that motivate their behavior. The afternoon was spent immersed in collaborating and co-creating projects that will increase connections by advocating for equity and inclusion within central Ohio area.

Seeing 50 teens working together toward solutions for social justice issues from many social, economic and diverse backgrounds gives me hope for a world that can work for everyone.

A couple of the projects that really stood out for me were: “A Day in Your Shoes” where students would swap places for a day, following each other’s school schedules; and another is a series of cross-cultural gatherings at Columbus Parks and Recreation, where families can come together for job fairs and offer ideas for business ventures while their kids play at the park. There was a pulse of optimism and hopefulness present as we witnessed the teens from very diverse backgrounds immersed in creative ways of bringing neighbors and communities together.

This Erase the Space event is the grand finale of a year of establishing connections and commonalities, breaking down cultural barriers and diving deeper into challenging issues such as diversity, racism and access to resources that they face regularly and how they can make a difference by being stronger together rather than isolated into one way of thinking.

If you’d like to know more about Erase the Space please view their website at erasethespace.org.

BY:
Susanna Warren, Outreach and Program Director
Compassionate Communication Center of Ohio
Certified trainer with the International Center for Nonviolent Communication

Posted on March 13, 2019 .