April 18, 2010

Nonviolent Communication (NVC): The Heart Sutra and Paul Shippee

Heart Sutra chanting “Have you ever wondered if there was a way all people could live in peace?……  Have you ever longed to reach a point of understanding with someone you care about when you find yourselves divided by disagreements or differences? Maybe you’ve longed to express what you really feel or what is important to you? Or, have you ever wanted to foster agreement with a group of people who was unable to agree with another group—especially when the disagreement became life-threatening?”

If you are asking yourself these questions, or if these questions have asked themselves to you, you might be ready for the answers. As an old adage says: “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”

Paul Shippee student of Suzuki roshi since 1967, student of the Vidyadhara since 1971, founding teacher at Naropa University 1974 & 1975, cofounder Boulder/Denver Buddhist Peace Fellowship mid 80’s, graduate studies in Psychology (Regis University), published poet, graduate studies in English Literature (San Francisco State University), Contemplative Studies teacher at Boulder Graduate School, Ngeton School –contemplative studies (first graduating class), taught many basic Buddhism classes at Boulder Shambhala Center, Vajrayana Seminary, Aug.-Sept. 1975, Kalapa Assemply 1982, Yoga student of Richard Freeman  4 years,Tai Chi student of  Yang Shu -3 years, Chi Qong student of Richard Reoch -2 years, Sensory Awareness study with Terry Ray, student of Charlotte Selver, Dathun Meditation Instructor, SMC winter 2008 w/Sakyong, Dathun Meditation Instructor, SMC winter 2007, Integrative Body Psychotherapy  2-year program,Touching Enlightenment With The Body study with Reggie Ray, Nonviolent Communication Workshop  at Naropa U. with founder Marshall Rosenberg March 9-12, 2007, 9-day International Intensive Training (IIT) in March 2008 in Albuquerque with Marshall Rosenberg and several other Trainers (this training qualifies him as Candidate for NVC Certification –which process is in suspension at
this time for remodeling), NVC & Spirituality workshop with Robert Gonzales, Sept 27-28, 2008, Boulder, Energy meditation training at ashram in Bali, February 2009, NVC practice skills group facilitator,  2007 – present, continuing graduate studies at Regis Univ. toward MA in Psychology (with special Certificate in Nonviolent Communication)
Seriously, wouldn’t it be fair to say that anybody can learn a thing or two  from a person with such curriculum?

For those of you who are in Spain, you will have the opportunity to learn the answers to these questions soon. In a few weeks Paul will be teaching a 3-day workshop in Madrid, Spain on Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and have been requested to introduce the HEART SUTRA as well as meditation. If these topics do not mean anything to you, there is your reason to take the workshop. The workshop will happen from May 7th to May 9th at Colegio Montessori Calle Henares 13 (metro República Argentina) You can e-mail [email protected]

Since many of us won’t be in Spain by then, I asked Paul to talk a little about the topic and about himself so our Elephants get familiar with his teaching.

* What is NVC?

Paul: Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is a method for learning how to have compassionate communication with anyone, including yourself. It is based on awakening a natural intention to connect with humanity, with people, and to value everyone’s needs equally. Mindfulness of language is used as a main tool along with techniques that encourage a change of consciousness. All roads in NVC lead to empathy.

What are the methods used in NVC?

Paul: The main method in NVC is to become aware of one’s own feelings and needs, to develop a literacy of feelings and needs that cuts through story lines and other old habitual defense mechanisms. The technique that is practiced until it becomes natural is to honestly express one’s feelings and needs in a skillful manner, being soft and vulnerable, and then shine the light of consciousness on the feelings and needs of others that you learn to receive empathically. The main learning in NVC is where to put your attention personally and interpersonally. For many this is a radical change from ‘normal’ (conditioned) consciousness.

*What have you experienced as NVC positive effects in the people that embrace it?

Paul: The main positive effect of NVC practice is to increase your chances of getting a compassionate response from others. I have found that NVC has an amazing result of disarming others’ as well as your own deeply embedded, habitual and mostly unconscious defenses that often bring up afflictive emotions and painful conflicts. I have found that learning to really own your feelings, and hauling back your projections from the world brings, at first, a strange and unfamiliar peace. But you get used to it!
*About linking the Heart Sutra with NVC?

Paul: I view these topics as naturally linked for American Buddhists. The Heart Sutra presents the wisdom or egoless aspect of Buddhism quite succinctly, while the interpersonal, personal, and subjective side of existence seems to be where much suffering arises in our culture. The Heart Sutra, when studied carefully, clearly reveals a path to freedom and deeper meaning while NVC skillfully exposes hidden levels of our personal and cultural conditioning that cause unnecessary suffering. Thus absolute and relative truths are intertwined to great effect.

Nonviolent Communication (NVC) takes up the relative side of  interpersonal communication to point out and heal cultural obstacles and personal conditioning. NVC presents skillful “tools for conventional reality” that help our communication in relationships –by developing mindfulness of language, careful intention, empathic presence, and emotional awareness. According to feedback from previous workshops, the results lead to happiness, joy, conflict resolution, and inner peace.

* Who are You?

Paul: I am someone who has practiced meditation under the direction of Suzuki Roshi then Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and learned from that how to experience spaciousness and nonduality. But it wasn’t until I discovered and practiced the NVC tools that I began to uncover long-buried feelings and needs, to bring them up into the flowing river of consciousness. For example, discovering the pain-blame syndrome is a gift that I now enjoy helping others learn how to recognize. I especially like to teach meditators how to uncover and express genuine feelings and needs that flow into and out of the meditative mind. Really, it’s working with the First Noble Truth of Suffering that the Buddha taught, and learning what to do with that suffering directly. It’s an American cultural shift.

* If you had only one phrase to tell the world, what would it be?

Paul: If you want to wake up and dissolve judgment, criticism, make-wrong behavior, and the litany of complaining and other self-limiting junk, then examine the link inside yourself between pain and blame. It’s simple but it ain’t easy.

Thank you Paul!

with metta,


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