In May 2019, Miki Kashtan, our teacher in Nonviolent Communication, visited Provision for 5 days.
Miki writes about it on her blog (click hear to read), and Robyn writes about it here:
Some months before I would come up for certification as a Nonviolent Communication (NVC) trainer, I received a proposal for a possible visit from one of the trainers whom I had chosen as teacher from within the global community of certified trainers in NVC. Miki Kashtan is well-known within the NVC community and also in the larger community of those working with and within models of Nonviolence all over our planet. And she did create some time in her schedule to come out to our village homestead in Transylvania, Provision, while she was between a trip to Israel, during which she held a retreat with a group of Palestinian women who are living and organising under Israeli occupation, and a trip to Poland where a yearly meeting of the Nonviolent Global Liberation (NGL) community would take place with over 70 participants from around the world.
NGL currently consists of a growing number of people who are devoting significant portions of their life-energy and/or resources toward furthering Miki’s life work and who carry as stated purpose:
“To nurture a group of practitioners and leaders as active co-learners committed to nonviolent global liberation (which means nonviolence, the liberation of all life, and collaborative leadership), who are ready to engage with a body of work about it that includes a framework, applications, and related readings and to carry it into the world through living it, modelling it, collaboratively refining and adding to it, applying it in organizational settings, training, facilitation, mediation, and in other ways.”
During Miki’s visit to Provision, we: Lars, Carsten, Miki and I, spent 5 days together. Looking at those five days now, some weeks later, they feel like early gestation of an embryonic bonding in togetherness, which is perhaps just another way of saying that we found ways to live into the nonviolence, liberation and collaboration that NGL’s purpose sets forth…
It was springtime, and the outside world had become very, very wet. In this region there is a saying that “Rain in May is Farmers’ Gold.” Indeed, one month later we began harvesting that wealth in the form of nutrition-rich hay for the animals’ winter enjoyment…. But, at that moment, the rain kept us mostly indoors. And the village and our community of city-dwelling friends were also staying tucked away in their own realms. Therefore, these wet conditions were not so conducive for having a community gathering, nor were they ideal for getting our hands into the soil – weeding or planting – as I had imagined we might when Miki stated her intention for this visit being:
I now want to also learn about your community.
I also am in a process of learning about me and physicality, both my body and the earth.
It seems to me that the visit was less tangibly about any of these things than both of us imagined. Luckily, both Miki and I showed adeptness in this situation by letting go of any expectations we might have had and showing up fully to the mystery of what is. And what this particular 5 days did offer us was a space to be together, the 4 of us, as members of the human family. And there was also something more that happened: we entered into a state of being together in such a way that respect, trust and safety, though never broken between us, felt like they were being restored within and through our being together. It felt to me like Peace, on a Gaian level, was present.
An example of this may become available through NGL’s library of resources in the form of a feedback audio recording. Knowing that I was in the process of NVC certification, Miki wrote to my assessor Deborah Bellamy some thoughts about me. This is standard procedure for NVC certification to allow the process to be open and transparent and also accessible for all – especially within the community, but also outside of it. At the same time that she wrote to Deborah, Miki also wrote to me and asked me if I would like to have feedback from her. It took me no time at all to respond affirmatively 1) because receiving feedback from those trained in NVC is something that I experience like a kind of “nutritional supplement” that is useful for my learning and continued evolution both as a human being and as an NVC trainer and 2) because I am part of the Feedback Loops Team of NGL, so have spent extra time and energy to delve into the mechanics and what I think is the essence of feedback in the last 6-8 months.
And now I want to take a little turn into Buddhist philosophy, but I will come back around fairly quickly to the topic of feedback and also say something about my experience of receiving feedback from Miki as someone who has an extraordinary depth and breadth of offering it. A student of Thich Nhat Hahn, Sister Dang Nghiem has written in her book “Mindfulness as Medicine” about the “Emptiness of Transmission” which states that there is something shared by “Transmitter,” “Receiver” and “Object of Transmission.” She writes that they are simultaneously in each other and that they are each other.
As example she uses Lover, Beloved and Love. As anyone who has known love will recognise, these three can and do tend to merge into one, though they can also be perceived as distinct. And I am wondering about the teaching of the Emptiness of Transmission and how it might apply to feedback. How is the one giving feedback and the one receiving feedback in one another? How is feedback itself the same as either of them?
Well, now I can say what I have to say about my experience of sitting on my couch facing Miki on that rainy afternoon during our feedback session. I can tell you something about the moment when she asked me what I wanted from her feedback and I responded that I wanted her to shine that part of her self on me that she uses to see into the depths of another and say with total freedom what was reflected there for her to offer. And I can say that it seems to me now that we both experienced something during that moment of how we are with and in each other, and even how we could find ourselves sharing something that was more than just we two. I have learned to place connection at the center of feedback (and not to engage in it when I can not easily feel a sense of being connected to the other person). Perhaps because this feedback happened on day 4 of our visit and our feeling of mutual connection was, by then, fully present. Or perhaps it happened for an entirely different reason. In any case, what I noticed was a peaceful togetherness traveling easily between us; perhaps precisely what is meant by the Emptiness of Transmission…
And this experience of peaceful togetherness, is that not fitting the purpose of NVC? (from the CNVC website: connecting with ourselves and others from the heart… seeing the humanity in all of us…recognizing our commonalities and differences and finding ways to make life wonderful for all of us) And is this experience not also central to the purpose of NGL- essentially care, freedom and shared purpose? I do think so, and so I am looking forward to finding out how these two communities that overlap in values and purpose co-exist, co-create and collaborate within me.
Thank you dear Miki for choosing to come to Provision and be with us during those “dark days of spring:” in the moments before the fresh salads and berries we are now enjoying; in the leftover winter sentiment when Carsten and I were still more inside than outside. I wish that you could see us all now as we are bringing in the golden-green hay together. And how we are eating dinner around 10pm after all the work is done! Your visit brought us treasured food for the soul which, for me, means nourishment to sustain beautiful* connections.
* when I asked Lars and Carsten to describe their connection with you, Carsten immediately said “beautiful,” and Lars and I both agree.