Phases of the Moon, the newsletter of the Maine NVC Network
Volume Two, Issue Eleven: Self-Empathy

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 Self-Empathy. Leah Boyd, a needs-based mediator from Maine will share her personal experience and practice.


red and orange autumn leaves on maple tree

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.

The next circle will be
10am-1pm on November 4

at The Start Center, 37 Start Rd, Camden

You are welcome to come when you can.

FMI or to sign up, contact Linda:
Phone 563-6712 / email


The Art of Self-Empathy

by Leah Boyd

In Nonviolent Communication we come to understand empathy as the capacity to be fully present with another, accompanying them as they experience and/or express what is alive for them in a given moment. We learn how to differentiate between empathy and other ways of being with another (such as sympathy, reassurance, advising, educating, etc.) We hone the skill of being a spacious, non-judgmental presence as we listen. We become skilled at hearing the feelings and needs being expressed.

And so how do each of us become the consummate holders of empathy? I believe a way to begin is with Self-Empathy, giving the precious gift of empathy to ourselves. In self- empathy we practice the basic skills of NVC (Observation, Feelings, Needs and Requests) within ourselves silently, becoming more and more skillful at knowing what’s alive in ourselves and being with that. We pay attention to what’s going on within, what thoughts and stories are running in our minds, what bodily sensations we are experiencing, how we are breathing, what we notice ourselves doing and saying.

To begin self-empathy, I suggest some type of brief self-connection practice. For me, it is taking a few slow deep breaths. One friend of mine likes to take a moment to notice how her feet feel contacting the earth, and another friend likes to notice the life energy pulsing in his hands. How you self-connect is an individual thing, but the goal is to do something that helps you tune into your inner state to find out what is alive.

Next, notice what thoughts or stories are running in your mind. This is the OBSERVATION stage. See if you can pay attention to just the essence of what’s repeating in your mind. It can be helpful to write it down. I like to start my sentences with, "I am thinking that. . ." or "The story I am telling myself is. . ." This seems to help me be more objective and less attached to my viewpoint. Also, take note of what you are doing or saying in the world. Just notice.

Now get in touch with your FEELINGS. What physical sensations are you experiencing? What feelings are arising? I find that true feelings tend to have a physical sensation and are located in my body. Often times, several "non-feelings" show up first. Non-feelings (faux-feelings) are words like "attacked" or "abused". They are actually thoughts about how we think we’ve been treated. These non-feelings can be really helpful in getting down to the true feelings so when they appear just ask yourself, "When I tell myself I’m _______________, what do I feel?" Referring to a NVC Feelings list is very helpful.

Now explore NEEDS. What needs are longing to be expressed/experienced/fulfilled? In NVC we’ve been taught that needs are universal life energies flowing through all of us. At any given moment, certain of these energies will be more present for us than others. Our feelings are always pointing to the needs that are wanting expression. As you sit with yourself now, allow your feelings to help you notice what you are longing for. What is present and bubbling in you in the way of needs? This is a place to really spend some time, just allowing what you deeply value to reveal itself. Acknowledge the beauty of these needs, the power and preciousness of these universal energies that you share with everyone alive. Referring to a NVC Needs list is very helpful.

And finally comes the REQUEST stage. Is there anything you would like to request of yourself or another that would make life more wonderful? It’s great to keep requests simple, clear and doable and to remember that there is a difference between a request and a demand. I began to notice in my own practice that I had started avoiding making requests of myself. Getting curious about this and doing some exploring I discovered that I had made a number of requests of myself and did not follow through on them. I realized, much to my surprise, that I had been skipping the part where I had the option to say "no" to my own request! I would just formulate my self-request and then assume agreement by all aspects of my being. Now I am working on formulating requests and waiting for a response that comes from consensus of my whole self. If it’s not a heartfelt yes, then it’s a no. And if there is self-judgment about the no, then it wasn’t a request, it was a demand.

Self-empathy is a tender practice. As we connect deeply with what is alive in ourselves, we can find ourselves faced with aspects that we have formerly judged and in places we’ve previously avoided. Can we be the spacious, non-judgmental presence for whatever we encounter? I find a lovely way to side-step my fear and my inner critic is to tune into curiosity. When I can be very curios about what’s alive, I become much more courageous and willing to drop down into my heart and my belly. Somehow curiosity opens me to acceptance in ways I can’t explain. And acceptance is where it’s at. With acceptance of myself, I am able to be accepting of others. When my empathy cup is full, I have plenty to give.

Leah Boyd offers professional mediation, conflict coaching and group facilitation based in NVC consciousness through her business Peaceful Purpose. In addition she currently mediates for Volunteers of America, Youth Alternatives Ingraham and Small Claims Court. In December she will complete the Yearlong NVC Mediation Immersion Program with Ike Lasatar and John Kinyon.
Contact Leah: 1-877-833-1372 or email

Further Practice

  1. For the next month take 30 minutes each week to go through the process described in the feature.

  2. For the next month, each week ask a friend to listen quietly to you talk about an issue for 10 minutes and then ask them to respond ONLY with some of the feelings & needs they heard you express. Download the Feelings & Needs cards so your friend can have them to choose from.

  3. Read this new book on empathy to develop an awareness of using empathy as a valuable energy in the workplace:
    The Empathy Factor: Your Competitive Advantage for Personal, Team and Business Success, by Marie Miyashiro FMI

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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.


Sept. thru Dec., Belfast and Falmouth, ME
Intermediate Immersion Group with Peggy Smith, certified NVC trainer

Pre-requisite a minimum of 4 days of NVC training with a certified NVC trainer.
3rd Saturday of each month in Falmouth: details / pdf icon REGISTRATION
3rd Sunday of each month in Belfast: details / pdf icon REGISTRATION
9:00 – 1:00 each session
Taught by Peggy Smith, certified NVC trainer


Oct. 29 & 30, Norway, ME, 9am-4pm each day

Deepening Open Communication
Sat., Oct. 29: Transforming Power Dynamics in Relationships
Sun., Oct. 30: The Art of NVC Dialogue
You may register for either or both of these days. Together they constitute a Level 2 training.
Taught by Peggy Smith, certified NVC trainer
pdf icon details and registration


December 2, 2011, South Portland, ME
Fundraising Event for Women, Work & Community

This 1-day overview of NVC will give people an insight into the power that NVC offers.
Facilitated by Peggy Smith, certified NVC trainer
pdf icon details and registration


December 10-11, 2011, Falmouth, ME
Foundations of Open Communication:
An Introduction to the Basics of Nonviolent Communication

A Level 1 workshop with Peggy Smith, certified NVC trainer
pdf icon details and registration


January 14, 2012, Falmouth, ME
Everyday Empathy

Spend a day embracing the joys of Empathy, bringing it alive for yourself.
Facilitated by Peggy Smith, certified NVC trainer
pdf icon details and registration


January 20–22, 2012, Winslow, ME
Bringing Mindful Speech To Life

A residential weekend of mindfulness meditation and NVC,
facilitated by Peggy Smith and Theodate Lawlor,
NVC practitioners and lay members of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Tiep Hien Order
pdf icon details / registration: pdf icon pdf format / word document



Increase Your Need

The mouse-soul is nothing but a nibbler.
To the mouse is given a mind
proportionate to its need,
for without need, the All-Powerful doesn't give anything to anyone.

Need, then, is the net for all things that exist:
A person has tools in proportion to his need.
So quickly, increase your need, needy one,
that the sea of abundance
may surge up in loving-kindness.

- Rumi, Mathnavi II, 3279-80, 3292
translated by Coleman Barks



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waves crashing on a rocky coast

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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.



Celebrations Corner

Before my first encounter with NVC, life was a constant cycle of judgment and pain. Like many stereotypical Americans, I was lost and misunderstood. NVC has leaded me to think otherwise. After my first week of NVC classes, I had found harmony with myself and the world around me.

After my week of NVC classes I found inner peace in my life. How so? Well, answer these questions. Have you ever found yourself lost in translation? Have you ever read a page in a book and realized you weren't paying any attention? If you have or have not answered yes, it's okay. In NVC there is no judgment. NVC put into perspective the power of understanding what those around me were feeling and more importantly how I was feeling. NVC is new and relevant because it is so conventional. No matter who you are or where you came from, NVC works if you are open for understanding. If you are open for understanding you are welcome to see every beautiful need in every violent act. I hope you pursue NVC because of its ability to connect our hearts with our minds.

- Mia, aged 17, participant in University of Maine summer NVC course: "Sustainable Communication”, resident of Bangor, ME.


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