NVC Conference Back at SBCC

By Steven Libowitz   |   March 28, 2019

Attending this weekend’s Nonviolent Communication Conference at SBCC School of Extended Learning’s Wake Center won’t make you an expert in personal development nor a perfect practitioner of the method of relating designed to create connection instead of conflict. But the immersive three-day conference is chock full of lectures and workshops where participants will have plenty of opportunities to learn and put into practice specific tools for uncovering, identifying, and expressing needs.

Rodger Sorrow, the 20-year NVC veteran who produces, coordinates, and spearheads the annual conference that – following a year’s hiatus due to finicky financing – once again returns to Santa Barbara, where it was founded a dozen years ago, said that NVC fosters growth in what is a core value of human existence.

“NVC is a language and process that supports more connection in ourselves and with others, which is one of the most important things in life – the quality of connection that we have in relationships… It’s the language of the heart, knowing what our values are and then living our lives based on those values, with more authenticity and vulnerability.”

Connection with ourselves leads to a deeper understanding of our values, needs in NVC lingo. There are scores of them, including ones that seem to be common such as community, honesty, inclusion, having meaning and purpose, Sorrow said. “Most of them are universal. All human beings have the same needs for well being, peace, freedom, and happiness.”

Having clarity of our needs means a deeper understanding of our motivations for our behavior and communications, which leads to clearer interpersonal relationships. “When I have more connection to myself, I’m more aware of what’s important to me in the present moment,” Sorrow said.

Sorrow was introduced to NVC by its founder, the late Marshall Rosenberg, who frequently led workshops in town as part of SBCC’s Adult Ed, often employing jackal and giraffe puppets to illustrate communication coming from domination versus connection/cooperation paradigms. Sorrow has taken about 15 international intensive trainings that run 10 days each, including several with Rosenberg, and became a certified trainer with the Center for NVC after a year-long program in the Bay Area. Now he’s an assessor in training, meaning he’ll soon be training the trainers.

After all the training, Sorrow sees NVC as essentially a spiritual practice.

“In my view needs are a form of energy – they’re formless, not tangible. It’s energy moving through us as we seek self-fulfillment. The needs are aspects of that energy that flows through each of us: source energy, which some people call God or the Universe. Connection to self and other as that energy flows through us and them is what creates an alignment represented by ‘namaste.’”

But it takes awareness, tools, and practice. Hence the conference, which begins with a free two-hour “Introduction to NVC” on Friday night before getting down to the nitty-gritty on Saturday and Sunday with six separate breakout sessions that offer everything from basic NVC classes to “The Surprising Purpose of Anger,” “Let’s Talk Sex,” “Healing, Mourning & Reconciliation,” “Requests: The Unsung Hero to Improving Relationships,” “Vortex of Submission,” an improv game called “Empathy? Not Empathy?,” and even an “NVC Sing Along + Dance Along.”

Among this year’s presenters are two husband-and-wife teams who practice what they preach in their own relationships as well as professionally: Jim and Jori Manske are each certified as trainers, mediators and facilitators, as well as in NVC and Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Santa Barbara’s own Drs. David and Bonnie Paul are the co-founders of The Freedom to Choose Project the nonprofit whose mission is transforming the lives of individuals impacted by incarceration through compassionate experiential education.

Other visiting presenters include Mary Mackenzie, a Certified CNVC Trainer, co-founder of the NVC Academy, an online school for learning Nonviolent Communication, and author of Peaceful Living: Daily Meditations for Living with Love, Healing and Compassion; Tera Gardner, CLC, a Life Coach specializing in NVC-based Relationship Communications and “Relationship Addiction” re-patterning; Ariel Wrye, a trainer and facilitator with 17 years of NVC experience whose classes combine critical information about neurobiology, child development, trauma, and resiliency with the tools of Nonviolent Communication; Jared Finkelstein, a former filmmaker and media educator who as a Collaborative Trainer with BayNVC offers professional development training in NVC to Bay Area school teachers and administrators as well as workshops for parent groups and student classrooms.

Support also comes from Santa Barbarans James Kwako, a longtime Adult Ed teacher; Craig Chalquist, PhD, associate provost of Pacifica Graduate Institute; and Lalli Dana Drobny, the former Executive Assistant to Jack Canfield at Chicken Soup for the Soul, who co-creates NVC-inspired “collaborative labs.”

As for Sorrow, despite his decades of training, he still thinks of studying NVC as a lifelong practice. “Lots of times I’m able to implement the skills without even thinking about them, even in stressful situations. But I’m still a pilgrim on the path.” 

(The 12th Annual NVC Conference takes place March 29-31 at the Wake Campus, 300 North Turnpike Road. Tuition is $100 for the full weekend. Visit http://chooseconnection. com/nvc-conference for details and a registration link.) 

Cuddle Connection Comes Back

Amber York’s Meetup in which members learn the nuances of navigating the realms of consensual, non-sexual touch is returning to town after a six-month hiatus. The Platonic Touch Therapist leads participants in giving and receiving nurturing touch – which has been documented as a basic human need – outside the confines of a sexual relationship. With clear consent, attendees will have the opportunity (and always the opportunity to decline) mutually acceptable physical exchanges in a variety of methods. The first hour features a welcome circle followed by guidelines and relaxing exercises to set the container for the deepening of connection that can come from the ensuing “cuddle flows.” Activities might include sitting or laying side-by-side with or without touch, massage, eye gazing, hugs or spooning, giving, and sharing weight, stroking or playing with hair, and other options.

Cuddle Connection takes place 7-10 pm on Saturday, March 30, at Santa Barbara Body Therapy Institute, 516 North Quarantina Street, and costs $20 at the door. Get more info or RSVP (optional) at www.meetup.com/Cuddle-and-Connection-Santa-Barbara, or text (don’t call) York at (805) 450-2907. 

Himalayan Psoas Breathing Workshop

HH Swami Vidyadhishananda of the Self Enquiry Life Fellowship, a yogi-monk who hails from lineages of meditation adepts that are from a combined heritage of rishi sages and nath yogis, offers a day of instruction and practice in the Himalayan siddha breathing techniques. Participants will learn correct ujjāyī breathing utilizing the myofascial psoas, a deep-seated band of muscle that connects the diaphragm, spine, and pelvis, a technique that allows for a three-dimensional cylindrical breathing. Calmness is experienced during the breaths and during the pauses in between; the gentle guided movement of the spine and the sternum brings about emotional release. Practice of this correct breathwork is highly conducive for meditation, vitality, and wellness.

The workshop takes place on Saturday, March 30, at Hansavedas Meditation Centre, 1807 East Cabrillo Boulevard, and concludes on Sunday with a two-hour Q&A session with Swami Vidyadhishananda about meditation and spiritual values. Admission is $135-$150. Visit https://hansavedas.org/event/psoas-breathing-workshop-2019.

From Grief to Gratitude

Alexis Slutzky hosts the next in a series of periodic Community Grief Rituals this Saturday, March 30, at the Arroyo Hondo Preserve near Refugio Canyon. The event offers an opportunity for people to come together ritually to honor and metabolize grief as a way to stay current and connected, and to honor and give expression to tears, rage, mourning, sadness, numbness, and pain as well as joy, wonder, and gratitude in a field of community support. Movement, singing, writing, sharing stories of loss, experiencing nature, and practicing community rituals are part of the experience. Admission is by sliding scale of $50-$150. Visit www.wildbelonging.com/events. 

Spring Community Potluck & Boutique

The new season brings a new gathering at the Thomson Sanctuary, a stunning private venue high in the hills here in Montecito. Ragan Thomson hosts the heart-centered afternoon filled with fun and community building. Bring a dish to share and mingle, shop and support local vendors at the event that also features a brief introduction and info on Ragan Thomson’s upcoming events and offerings. Visit https://raganthomson.com/spring-community-potluck-boutique, email info@raganthomson.com or call Charlyn at (818) 456-7767 for more details or to RSVP and receive the exact address and timing.


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