Phases of the Moon, the newsletter of the Maine NVC Network
Volume Three, Issue Three: What's Natural and What's Habitual

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.

This month's theme is What's Natural and What's Habitual?


What’s Natural — What’s Habitual

by Burt Haggett of Bar Harbor, ME

We were watching Marshall Rosenberg’s DVDs, "The Basics of Nonviolent Communication," and he said that we must be careful not to confuse what’s habitual with what’s natural. For example, if I say to myself, "It’s natural to get angry when someone cuts in front of me in their car." Or, "It’s only natural for me to want my own way, it’s my nature." Are these natural or are they habits that I’ve developed to try to meet my needs? Marshall was inviting us to look at how we actually think, speak and act. Are you interested in exploring? Do you want more clarity about how you "operate"?

So what is natural anyway? The first chapter of Marshall’s book is entitled "Giving from the Heart" and provides ways to connect with what’s natural in us. Reading this chapter would be a meaningful place to start. Then, NVC offers so many practices to support that exploration and each of us will find the practices that work for us. The point of all NVC practices is to remind us, help us remember, who we have always meant to be, how we were always meant to express ourselves and listen to others, in a sense to come home to our natural selves.

Here are some practices that have been most helpful for me.

Preparation: I like reminding myself daily of some of the principles behind NVC:

More than just reminding myself, more than simply believing these statements, do I know these principles to be so in my own experience?

PAUSE before acting or speaking and SELF CONNECT. Pausing interrupts the tendency to just do the same old thing and self-connecting provides the chance to touch what we really value in any situation.

How to self-connect? In the space the pause allows, we can do an "inquiry practice."


A part of the self-connection that Robert emphasizes is checking bodily sensations. So, if you’re feeling some tension or constriction, there’s some story or judgment in your mind. When the thoughts in your head are in charge, it makes connecting with the needs and values calling from your heart much more difficult to hear. But the simple act of NOTICING can create a basis for self-empathy, self-connection. On the other hand, if noticing triggers self-judging, simply notice that, feel what it feels like in your body, and inquire: "Are these self-judging thoughts supporting me in my desire to live my life in harmony with my deepest longings?"

So, now what? I’ve paused, connected with what’s "going on in me," and now, having my awareness focused on feelings and especially needs, I find myself in a powerful position to connect, really connect, with others, as Marshall says, "in a way that makes life more wonderful."

For me, the first form the connection takes is an internal one, with two elements. First, suppose you sense some "disconnection" in you; there’s disappointment, anger, frustration, despair or any such emotion in your experience. Stay with the "rawness" of that experience for a while without any stories about it, just the emotion and how it feels in your body.

If you find yourself with self-talk such as, "This feeling is so awful," or starting to think about the story that triggered the feeling, simply notice that and come back to feeling the feeling.

Then recognize: "THIS is what everyone feels when these emotions arise. THIS is what everyone feels when they’re caught up in the stories." Stay with your recognition of your kinship with everyone in experiencing these difficult emotions.

Second, when you are connected with your deepest values, name them for yourself. For example:

When these needs are in your awareness, what feelings are present? Warmth? Relaxation? Joy? How do these emotions feel in your body? Stay with these feelings for a while and then recognize: "THIS is what everyone feels when their awareness focuses on their deepest needs." Know this and recognize everyone’s potential to be connected within themselves in this way. Without deep knowing and appreciation of these emotions in ourselves, any attempt at empathic connection (with others or ourselves) will be conceptual, coming from the head and not the heart.

The second form of connection, expressing from the heart and listening fully in the "outer" world with others, is simply the result of developing the capacity to rest in the open space of feelings and needs instead of in the confining space of thoughts, judgments, or opinions.

Staying connected internally with your living experience provides a stable basis for speaking and acting from the heart.

Burt Haggett has been practicing NVC since 2002. He has been a steady member of the Bar Harbor practice group for many years. He has a Ph.D. in Psychology. This is the second year he is the on-site coordinator for Robert Gonzales’ Bar Harbor NVC workshop.

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Suggestions for Further Practice

  1. Participate in the Robert Gonzales workshop in Bar Harbor May 4-7

  2. For the next 3 days make the following request of yourself. "Am I willing to use a self-inquiry invitation at least 3 times a day for the next 3 days?" Refer to the feature article for an example of a self-inquiry invitation. Pick one and work with it for the 3 days. Then choose a different one and work with that for three days. Try out as many as you want. Find which one speaks to you at this time of your life.

  3. Re-read Marshall Rosenberg's foundational book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. Try reading it with new eyes and see what is refreshing within it for you, no matter how long you have practiced NVC.


Upcoming Trainings

Trainings listed here are in the Maine region. If you wish to list an event, please follow our guidelines for submission. Please note that both certified and non-certified trainers, (who are willing to follow certain requirements of the Center for Nonviolent Communication), may be leading the posted trainings. Listing here does not imply endorsement by the Maine NVC Network of the trainer or the event.

April 23, South Portland, ME
Evening presentation: Bringing Mindfulness Alive in Every Conversation

offered by Peggy Smith, certified NVC trainer
pdf icon details


May 4-7, Bar Harbor, ME
Living Compassion: Building Practices & Processes
An NVC workshop with Robert Gonzales

Because the workshop content will be determined by the skill level and experience of the participants,
we request that applicants have a minimum of 20 hours experience with an NVC trainer,
or have been a part of an NVC practice group for a year, or are in an NVC practice group currently.
pdf icondetails and registration
Last year this event sold out.


May 26-27, South Portland, ME
Building Bridges of Connection:
NVC as a practical tool to bring Mindful Speech to all relationships (Level 1)

offered by Peggy Smith / pdf icon details and registration


June 2-3, Bangor, ME
Expanding Open Communication

Sat., June 2: Transforming Power Dynamics in Relationships
Sun., June 3: The Art of NVC Dialogue
You may register for either or both of these days. Together they constitute a Level 2 training.
offered by Peggy Smith / pdf icon details and registration
Please note that the dates for this workshop have been changed, from April to June.


August 6–10, Belfast, ME
Sustainable Communication: The Theory & Practice of Nonviolent Communication

3 credit course through the Peace & Reconciliation Department of the University of Maine.
taught by Peggy Smith / pdf icon details


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NVC Fun Day & Gathering of Community

Saturday, April 7th, 9-3
Meadow Wind Center for Holistic Living
100 Gray Rd., West Falmouth, ME

The Maine NVC Network will celebrate Spring with a Fun Day and Gathering of Community.  Come for all or part of the day! Spend time connecting with fellow NVC practitioners in an uplifting, fun, relaxed day of shared food, empathetic listening, visioning, song and laughter.

The Maine NVC Network’s structure includes a Steering Committee which aims to build and strengthen NVC presence in Maine. During our Fun Day the Committee will use the Gathering of Community time to share what the Network has been doing AND receive any & all feedback, suggestions, appreciations and opinions from those gathered. Your energy, creativity and presence is requested as we continue with our mission to create an even stronger, vibrant NVC presence in Maine. Please join us!

Plan for the day:

FMI:(207)798-5618 or (207)TRY-SONG
Facebook page
The Steering Committee is always open to receiving feedback and suggestions from the NVC community: email

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Invitation to a
Monthly Empathy Circle

You are invited to participate in a monthly empathy circle. We will gather the first Friday of each month
at The Start Center, 37 Start Rd, Camden

You are welcome to come when you can.

FMI contact Linda:
Phone 563-6712 / email



Do you want to receive emails about upcoming NVC trainings and other NVC events in and near Maine?

Join the Maine NVC Network
Yahoo Group

The group is moderated and is only used for announcements of regional workshops and other Maine NVC Network events. Inclusion in list serve announcements does not imply endorsement by the Network.

naked birch branches against a blue sky

Call for Volunteers

The health of the Network depends on the joyful efforts of all who yearn to bring nonviolent consciousness to our region.
To learn more, email our volunteer coordinator.




HOPE Festival
April 21, Orono, ME

HOPE Festival is presented annually by the Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine.
See you at the NVC booth!! FMI pdf icon


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