Over the past few months, Ireland went into lockdown to slow the spread of Covid 19. Most of my work (as a trainer sharing NVC) was canceled, and what wasn't canceled was moved to Zoom (like everyone else!). I gave myself permission to let go of notions of "productivity" and instead I spent time with myself.
The first month was an unwinding of the anxiety of the busy pace I'd been living since last December, though it was replaced with anxiety about the pandemic, let's be honest. I experienced a reorientiation to what is important to me, and faced some existential questions:
What am I doing with my one glorious life?
Why have I been spending my precious, limited time and energy on things that are not going to bring me the life I dream of?
In the terrifying face of global climate change and biodiversity loss and this internal ticking clock counting down the remaining time we have for collective action, spurring a sense of urgency within me, I have carried the question:
What is my work to do?
What is my contribution to new/old world we so desperately need?
What arose in me, as the weeks passed, was a clarity of purpose. The answer that consistantly came to me was community living. My dream has long been to live in community. I originally came to NVC to support my marriage, and I stayed with NVC, worked towards certification, and committed to the hard work of integrating nonviolence into my life for the rest of my life, because I thought this was the only visible step towards living in community I could grasp.
So, my next question to myself was:
If I am so clear I want to live in community, and so clear I want to bring my delivery of NVC in service to community living, why am I not doing it?
That was a much more painful question to face. Several responses within me arose, my struggle with general disempowerment, lack of hope, intense grief over the state of the world, and a deep refusal to do it "alone". Facing this pain became the next bit of work of my time in lockdown.
I have since experienced a shift. I realize that I don't need to do this alone. I can ask for support. More than that, I can create a team of people to work together.
My dream is to form a team of 4-5 people, local to Ireland, who would like to work with me to support forming and established live-in communities in building nonviolence and NVC into the foundation of their social structures and way of life.
You do not need to be experienced in the above, as we will learn and grow together. What I am looking for is:
Skills I'm looking for:
If this sounds like you, and you are interested in getting involved, I aim to hold a zoom call to answer any questions and support you in deciding to join this group or not. Email me to receive information about when this zoom call will be.
A few weeks ago I hosted a zoom call exploring the connections between Universal Human Needs and the Gift Economy. I so so enjoyed it, it felt vibrant and in alignment with what I believe my purpose to be. I will be offering this call twice a month!
Join us as we explore the connections between Universal Human Needs and the Gift Economy. How can we engage with these two concepts as a foundation for successful living in community? Can these ideas make community living more accessible? What are some practices we can immediately put into place to begin to live in consciously needs-based communities?
We will be increasing our needs-consciousness and language while looking at this specific application of it. We will be practicing self-connection, empathic listening and vulnerable expression.
Would you like to Support these Calls and Recordings?
Join us in exploring the Assumptions Underlying NVC, written by Miki and Inbal Kashtan, to begin grappling with the very different worldview that NVC asks of us. We will explore through conversation and naming practices to integrate the theory into our lived experiences.
These explorations happen weekly on zoom and are recorded to support other's learning.
If you join us for the live zoom session, we'll focus on creating connection and support each other, while also practicing self-connection, empathic listening and vulnerable expression.
Forms of Support We would enjoy Receiving
Hello friends, I’m writing today to share with you that I am feeling called to offer “healing” sessions again. My spirit has been moving me in this direction for a while now, a movement to share what I’ve learned. To offer what support I can.
I’ve learned so much in the past few years of focused, personal growth. I’ve learned actively by exploring NVC both as a trainer and as a personal spiritual and mindfulness practice. I’ve attended workshops, listened to multiple teachers, and I’ve read about trauma and what it means to be human. But mostly, I’ve learned through, well through going through it. You know?
To put it simply, I’ve faced my pain, my deepest, earliest pain, and all its rippling out across my life and daily life.
It’s easy to say in a sentence but not so easy, the going through it.
It’s sobering to look at while, yes, this is an early trauma (and subsequent traumas at later and later ages), I now have the power of choice and yet I wield that choice in fear-based reactions, which, unconsciously, perpetuate the repetition of that original pain. Like a self-fulfilling prophecy. All my attempts in protecting myself from experiencing the pain of loss and separation and something like what my mind calls abandonment, have resulted in me experiencing it. Pain cannot be avoided. Triggers cannot be avoided. Reality cannot be avoided.
Attempting to avoid pain and the reality before us is a trauma response. Dissociation is a trauma response. Frozen, numb, avoidance are trauma responses. It is a coping mechanism for those times when we are powerless to take ourselves out of the traumatic situation. But I am not powerless anymore, so why was I continuing to respond in those ways? What can I do differently, now, to experience some measure of true joy and peace?
I started working with NVC as a communication system because I wanted (needed!) help to communicate in my marriage. I stayed with NVC, dedicated myself to it, because I found it to be the most effective way to interrupt my habituated trauma response. Practicing NVC in my inner world supported me in facing the pain within me and resulted in my experiencing such joy. It’s not that I never experienced joy before I starting practicing NVC, but that I’ve never felt joy so regularly.
I fully believe that this system supports us in facing trauma, in dealing with those big explosive moments when we are triggered. AND this system codifies recovery from trauma. It helps us to form new habits, new neural pathways, new connections to our body, ourselves, and our relationships. In more ways then I could list here in this space. (Just to name a few: how to ask for support, permission to feel, deprograming our minds, understanding structures/systems of power and privilege, how to dream and how to reach for that dream.)
So, I dove deeper and deeper into this system. I took a break (a sabatical?) from energy work. (For those of you who didn’t know me before, I used to do ALOT of energy work). And what do you think I found there? The deeper I dove into the personal practice of NVC the more and more it started to look like energy work. The more and more resonated with the work I used to do with the vibration of Compassion, guided by Quan Yin. At one point, I was in a workshop focused on anger and depression and I had this almost out of body experience, where everything slowed down, and I looked around myself, looked around my body, and I thought… this is exactly what I was doing before. Another time, as we were practicing what my teacher Yoram Mozenson calls “empathy in the body”, I had that same slightly slow motion realization, this is literally, exactly what I was doing when practicing energy work for myself or others.
The primary difference between what I used to do and what I was “learning” to do here is that it was completely devoid of interpretation. The mechanism of healing was exactly the same, but the layers of “spiritual” interpretation were completely absent (and unnecessary!). It felt so clean to me. I used to think that energy work felt clean, devoid of those Puritanical layers of judgemental ick. Now I can see that I still carried so many judgments about right and wrong, what I have to do to be a “good person”. Rather than interpreting or analyzing or evaluating our experience and the images that came to our minds, we simply welcomed them. We allowed them. We experienced them. And the same “healing” happened. It was such a relief for me, to just be with what is without needing to label it, explain it, pick it apart or interpret it.
I believe our bodies are designed to heal themselves. It is our job to support our bodies in doing what they are there to do. I want to learn how to get out of my own way. This is why I say “healing” in “quotation marks”. This word healing is what is commonly used, but in my mind it implies brokenness, something to be fixed. There is nothing wrong with any of us! We are all having natural human reactions to a situation rife with chronically unmet needs. I much prefer to use words like “shift” or “grow” or, my favorite, “nourish”.
This is what I love about working with NVC as a healing practice. It provides a framework for our understanding of what it means to be human. And it supports us in experiencing and enjoying our humanness in the present moment.
Which brings me back to my wish to offer sessions again. At this point in time, we on Earth are faced with an unprecedented, urgent need to come together to change at a broadly sweeping scale. Our ability to communicate our ideas and our needs is critical. Emotional resilience is now a necessity. Functional nonjudgement is a necessity if we are going to work together across differences. Releasing our trauma responses is necessary if we are going to be effective at all.
I am feeling called to offer these sessions as a way to support this great work we are doing. In addition to workshops and practice groups, I’d like to offer these profoundly shifting moments of human presence, so that you can resource yourself to go out and do the work we all need you to do.
I am giving away several free sessions!
Selene Aswell is a coach, facilitator and community living consultant.