Phases of the Moon, the newsletter of the Maine NVC Network
Issue Five: Building the Culture of Peace Within

Our newsletter appears once a month around the time of the new moon. Our purpose is to contribute to the NVC learning of people who have taken at least an NVC Level 1 workshop, and help us stay connected as we endeavor to deepen a culture of peace within ourselves, our families and the world. We believe a Level 1 offers so many new ways of thinking that additional support for learning and integration could be helpful.

We endeavor to make each edition informative, connecting, inspiring and fun. Please let us know how the newsletter might contribute to your NVC well-being.

The theme for this issue is Building the Culture of Peace Within: how to know if we are using NVC to try and get our way or if we have shifted to a place of internal peace where authentic connection grows.



What’s In a Name?

by Peggy Smith, CNVC certified NVC trainer

NVC stands for Nonviolent Communication. People often ask, "Why use the word nonviolent?" Can’t we name what it IS rather than what it is not?

At those times, I enjoy remembering how Mahatma Gandhi defined violence: When I make myself or the other person wrong in my own thinking - that is the seed of violence.

If we want to shift our personal responses and our entire culture to one of peace, the transformation begins in the ways we think. For outer change to be sustainable, inner change is essential. NVC gives specific processes for looking deeply into the ways I judge myself and others, and using NVC I am able to see those judgmental thoughts not as faults (more self blame) but as signals that can lead me to deeply held values.

My judgments have the potential of helping me connect more and more deeply to the universal human needs that flow within me. I use the classical NVC form —Observation, Feelings, Needs, Requests (OFNR)—within my own mind long before I consider using it aloud with another person. That’s why I often say that NVC is 90 percent an "inside" job.

So while we often think of NVC as a different form of communicating, I have found it more effective to conceive of it as a different pattern of thinking. When my thinking patterns change, then my language follows with less effort and more aliveness. I imagine that I also don’t end up sounding to others like a strange alien talking in a stilted way. (Well, I probably do still sound a bit strange much of the time… but that’s another story.)

This internal journey often includes these parts:

Sometimes the shift from unconscious reaction to self-awareness is quick. Other times it can take days of patiently accepting and accompanying my stormy thoughts with kind attention before a sustainable shift happens within me.

Before the shift is complete I find I often have a "clear and firm" sense of "who is at fault," myself or the other person. During this time, I often experience an urgency to express the Observation, Feelings, Needs, Request script that I have rehearsed over and over in my mind. I find that my intention in using OFNR sometimes can be to release unpleasant pressure within myself or to educate the other person about how he or she ought to behave so that I don’t suffer in the future.

When the shift to self-connection has occurred there is a noticeable change in my body. I often drop into "baby" breathing: the breath is deep and expands my back and sides, as well as my lower belly. Taking time to check to see if "baby breathing" is present will provide an indication that a shift has occurred.

Another indication of a completed shift is calmness about expressing. When I have arrived at a place of presence there is no longer an urgency within me to express what is going on inside of me. It’s not that I don’t want to express what is authentically alive in me, what is different is the level of urgency I experience about that expression.

When the urgency is gone and the baby breathing is there, I find speaking (or even emailing) is powerful and peaceful. For me, NVC is a strategy to shift my deep habits of blame and judgmental thinking to needs-based thinking, thereby contributing to the needs of connection, authentic harmony, authenticity, acceptance, community and eventually peace.

Authors gratitude: I want to express my appreciation for all the NVC trainers who have influenced my journey, particularly Marshall Rosenberg, Gina Cenciose, and the NVC Training Institute; also to Dan Miller, the human potential trainer, whose ideas and support have greatly contributed to this article.

Peggy Smith is co-founder of the Maine NVC Network and founder/principle trainer with Open Communication

Have a question about how to apply NVC in your own life?

Ask the Giraffe

Ideas for Practice

  1. Consider taking additional NVC trainings, such as the Level 2 course being offered June 5 & 6 (see upcoming trainings below

  2. Use the Feelings & Needs cards at least twice a week to examine a situation that is bugging you.

  3. Do an internal check for "baby breathing" and a calm urgency-free inner state before making an OFNR statement in a spoken conversation or an email.

  4. Practice baby breathing—breathing so your torso expands 360 degrees with each in-breath (expansion is experienced in the belly, on the sides and the back with each in-breath) for 2 minutes every day for 21 days to anchor awareness of this style of breathing into your body.

  5. Connect with an empathy buddy at least once a week—by phone or in person. Communicate with your empathy buddy even if you "don’t think you have a problem." For ideas about working with an empathy buddy, see our past newsletter on empathy:

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Fully Alive

Dawna Markova

I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance;
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.

Melissa Laser working in a salmon stream in Maine

In memory of Melissa Laser, champion of wild Atlantic salmon

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Crossword Puzzle

This is a fully interactive online puzzle; we will have a new one each month which relates to the issue's theme.

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Upcoming Trainings

May 22, Belfast, ME
1-Day Intro: This event is a fundraiser for WERU radio, all profits go to the station.
pdf icon details and registration

June 5-6, Augusta, ME
Level 2: Deepening Our Open Communication Resiliency

With Peggy Smith, CNVC certified trainer
This weekend will deepen connection to NVC consciousness for those who have taken a Level 1 or its equivalent. pdf icon details

June 23-27, Alfred, ME
Transformation of Our Core Beliefs

During this intermediate level NVC workshop we will use a variety of interactive group and individual activities to understand our core beliefs that make our lives less than wonderful. We will develop self-awareness, choice and self-empowerment.
pdf icon details

July 7 thru August 4
UM Hutchinson Center, Belfast, ME
PAX 495: Sustainable Communication:
Theory & Practice of Nonviolent Communication: details

Looking for workshops throughout New England?

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Celebration Corner

I thoroughly enjoy learning and practicing NVC; it enriches my life because it gives me an invaluable tool for understanding myself and therefore giving me ways to have more capacity for empathy for others. 95% of NVC is an inside job, and every day I find this to be true, no matter how much I want other people to use it. So everyday I practice with myself and every time I have conflict I look inside and listen to the very important messages being sent by my jackals and give them presence, which in turn gives me the space necessary for processing. I am very glad that I am in an NVC group that meets often enough to fulfill the needs for community, shared reality, and practice. Life is learning; instead of right and wrong there are growth, challenges, and transformation capabilities within every moment and with the help of NVC I am able to know this as truth!
- Lea, Morrill, ME

Book Review:
Being Genuine
by Thomas D’Ansembourg

reviewed by Kristi Kirkham

I picked up this book last fall on the recommendation of an experienced NVC trainer in Seattle. She said that the language he used is much more accessible to folks unfamiliar with NVC than Marshall Rosenberg’s book. As a person who thinks of myself as a fairly nice person, I was also intrigued by the title because I like the idea of being more real. In contrast to the two previous books I have reviewed for this newsletter, this book is long (266 pages) and not by Marshall. I will cover the Preface, Introduction, and Chapter 1 in this review to give you an idea of the flavor and scope of this book. Thomas D’Ansembourg is a certified NVC trainer from Belgium. The book is translated from French.


In the preface, Guy Corneau, author of the Tragedy of Good Boys and Good Girls, describes D’Ansembourg’s personal transformation from a grown man who acted like a nice little boy to a virile and loving husband and father. He changed his career as well from lawyer and financial consultant to an NVC trainer, with the goal of being more faithful to himself and to helping others also become more authentic. Corneau states that we are holding in our hand a true reference manual to the practice of NVC, written by a man who succeeds at speaking his true self with the greatest agility.


In the introduction, D’Ansembourg lays out his thesis and purpose. He cites Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life as his only reference. His desire is to illustrate the NVC process as articulated by Marshall. On page 11 he states his purpose: "How can one be oneself without stopping being with another, and how can one be with another without stopping being oneself?" I don’t know about you but that is a question I wrestle with everyday. By this point Thomas certainly has my attention.

Chapter 1 Why We Are Alienated from Ourselves

This chapter illustrates the Observation, Feelings, Needs, and Request Process with both examples and some wonderful simple stick figure drawings. The stick figure has horizontal double lines symbolizing concrete blocks between the head and the heart, again between the heart and the gut. Thomas provides many examples to illustrate that staying in thoughts and judgments provides a concrete block to feeling and identifying those feelings. In turn there is a cultural prejudice against me identifying and meeting my own needs and values while at the same time, I am also expected to magically guess and meet those of others. The last concrete slab between the gut and the legs prevents us from taking action to meet our own needs and keeps us in the expectation that another person should understand our need and take on the duty of meeting them. Several real-life examples also bring standard OFNR to life.

As a beginning practice group leader, I’m appreciating the extra grounding the material in this book gives me. I hope that by introducing you to this author and his thesis and the methods he employed with this book that you will have a better idea if you might want to read it. If you do, consider ordering it from your local bookstore or you can order it online here.



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July 7 thru August 4, Monday and Wednesday evenings
PAX 495: Sustainable Communication:
Theory & Practice of Nonviolent Communication
UM Hutchinson Center, Belfast, ME

This is a 3 credit course, equivalent to a combined Level 1 & Level 2 workshop; a wonderful opportunity for students, teachers, social workers, health care professionals and other professionals who require credits for re-certification to experience the power and delight of shifting our thinking to needs-based consciousness. This course will also be helpful to parents or business professionals who want to explore how needs-based consciousness will enhance connection and expand creativity. Course taught by Peggy Smith, CNVC certified trainer
For questions about course content please contact Peggy Smith: 789-5299 or email
To register or call 338-8000

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