Reflections on Living Compassion Retreat with Robert Gonzales


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 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:

Posted on March 13, 2019 .