Phases of the Moon, the newsletter of the Maine NVC Network
Volume Three, Issue Six: Starting and Maintaining an NVC Practice Group

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 Starting and Maintaining an NVC Practice Group.



Starting and Maintaining an NVC Practice Group

by Peggy Smith, CNVC certified NVC trainer

"How do I start a practice group?"

"Do I know enough to run a practice group?"

"How do I keep NVC alive in me?"

So many people leave NVC trainings with enthusiasm and strong desire to keep deepening NVC within them. When we think of building new neural pathways that will react as easily as the ones we have, well-grooved from a lifetime of practicing blame & judgment, we can see that having regular supported practice could be a big help.

When my friend, Olive Pierce, and I came back from our first weekend with Marshall Rosenberg, we decided to start a practice group. She invited thirteen people to her cozy living room and we met twice a month. By the end of four months there were seven of us left, and we continued to work together for several years.

Over the years I have come to distinguish two types of groups. A study group meets to read a basic NVC text and do some practice to support that learning. My first group read Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, and worked through Lucy Leu’s NVC Companion Workbook. We thought we would do one chapter & exercises each meeting. What we found was that it took us three meetings to cover a chapter and its accompanying exercises in a way that felt complete to us.

A practice group came to mean a group of people who had either gone to enough workshops or read the text enough times that they had the basics and wanted to keep practicing together for support. Often this involves some combination of empathy time and working through core practices to harvest the learnings of past interactions or preparing for future ones from an NVC perspective. Whether your intention is to set up a study group or a practice group, let’s explore some ways of starting and maintaining the group. Each group is unique. Here are some questions to consider.

Once you have your structure set up, it’s time to move forward.

If you are in Maine, you may want to list your group on the Maine NVC Network Practice Group page so that others know you are there: email. This helps build a sense of community within Maine and you may pick up some new members.

Here are some resources that can support your group. I recommend any of the four books listed below as helpful guides with a modest cost — with the one caution that they write about needs as "met" or "unmet," which is not how I teach about needs (read more about this understanding of needs here. pdf icon

I recommend you begin each session with a check in, giving each person a certain amount of time (e.g. 5 minutes) to let the group know what is up in their lives. An addition is to have the next person begin by reflecting what they heard. This helps everyone experience the need "to be heard" at the beginning of every session.

Then the facilitator for that session will present the focus of that day. It may be an exercise from one of the listed resources or it may be an empathy session.

If you choose an empathy session it is important to review the blocks to empathy (listed here in pdf format for easy printing). I suggest you divide the available time equally among the people present. Each person in turn receives everyone else’s presence for the entire allotted time, whether they choose to speak or not. In the last few minutes of a person’s time one or two other participants can reflect back a feeling & need that they heard. This is not a time for dialogue back and forth. It is a time for an empathic offering for the speaker to consider. (You can read more about empathy circles here.)

I find it helpful to end a practice or study group session with a round in which people express one thing they are taking from that session. This helps solidify learning.

Practice groups are a wonderful strategy for building community and support for building NVC skills. If you don’t have one now, please create one. It is a precious gift to yourself and the community.

Peggy Smith is co-founder of the Maine NVC Network and founder/principal trainer with Open Communication.
Contact Open Communication for a presentation on NVC for your organization or business.


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Suggestions for Further Practice

  1. Talk to friends and find a few people interested in learning more about NVC. Or contact people from your last NVC workshop who live in your area.

  2. Call Peggy for support in setting up or maintaining a practice group: 207-789-5299

  3. Participate in the 2012-2013 Maine NVC Integration Program: details below

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.

July 27-28, Ellsworth, ME
Connecting Across Differences: the journey of Nonviolent Communication

offered by Peggy Smith, Certified NVC Trainer
pdf icon details and registration


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


Sept. 29-30, Ellsworth, ME
BePeace Practice: Creating Peace in Yourself
Presented by Paula Guarnaccia,
Certified BePeace Teacher & HeartMath Educator

pdf icon details


Oct. 27-28, Norway, ME
Connecting Across Differences: the NVC journey

Offered by Peggy Smith / email for details


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8 Months of Deepening NVC Consciousness:
the Maine NVC Integration Program
Opening My Heart—Opening Communication
An Intermediate NVC Experience

Five Themed Retreats spread over an 8 month period,
September 2012 to May 2013

11 days of direct instruction with Certified NVC Trainer Peggy Smith and NVC Mediation Program graduate Leah Boyd

Between retreats learning community includes:

Move NVC from a concept to practical integration while staying close to home.

details and registration

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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.


Call for Volunteers

Facebook Friendly NVC supporter wanted! Volunteer needed to keep Maine NVC Network's Facebook page up to date and vibrant. Your help is greatly needed to bring us into the Social Media world. Please contact Peggy.

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.



Hello NVC friends,

Earlier this year I sent a message asking if you were interested in facilitating on our daily Occupy NVC support line. I'm back again asking if you're interested in something more short term and potentially very interesting. The occupy movement is having a national gathering in Philadelphia June 30th – July 4th. A group of people from around the US have been creating this event for several months and they expect a large turnout. ** See note below

I have been involved with a group called Occupycafe for most of this year. Although Occupycafe is normally a virtual cafe, they will be setting up physical space at the occupy national gathering. Ben Roberts, one of the stewards of the cafe, is keenly interested in NVC and wants to include some NVC training, practice, and empathy calls on his Maestro Conference line during the national gathering. We would be connecting with people on the ground at the national gathering as we have been doing these last seven months with people at occupy encampments. Some of you have experienced how fascinating it is to interact with the occupiers. I really appreciate their passion and determination.

At this time, the on-the-ground Occupycafe is scheduled to be open on the following schedule:

  • Saturday, June 30: 10-4:30
  • Sunday, July 1: 1-4:30
  • Monday, July 2: 10-9
  • Tuesday, July 3: 10-5

This is a great opportunity to spread the word about NVC and to help people experience it as a powerful way to connect with one another, and stay connected long enough to hear everyone's needs. Once I hear back from you all, I'll set up a doodle schedule and answer any questions about how and when.

Please email me as soon as possible if you're interesting in joining us on some of these calls. And, please pass this info along to anyone you think might be interested in receiving it.

** Also, please email me if you might have some interest in traveling to Philadelphia for this event and helping with NVC on the ground training/empathy and/or with situations that could use some mediation.

Suzanne Jones

blue sky with a few wispy clouds

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The Sun Never Says

All this time
The sun never says to the earth,

"You owe

What happens
With a love like that,
It lights the

- poem attributed to Hafiz in Daniel Ladinsky's book The Gift

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