Nonviolent Communication and the Benefit of Meditation
“NVC gives us tools and understanding to create a more peaceful state of mind.”
What is the relationship between Nonviolent Communication and the benefits of meditation?
Let’s begin by answering some basic questions like, “what is Nonviolent Communication (NVC)?” and “what is meditation?”
What is Nonviolent Communication (NVC)?
In short: NVC is a process for creating the quality of connection out of which people naturally enjoy contributing to one another’s well-being.
What is meditation?
Meditation is not one thing! It is an umbrella term that covers multiple sets of concepts and practices — many of them widely misunderstood. One misconception about meditation is that it is about being self-centered by only focusing on yourself.
To be clear, we are not talking about the phrase “to meditate on it” when referring to thinking or reflecting on something.
There are many kinds of meditation. Each tradition, modality or technique works differently from the others. Each does different things, and they have different goals or aims.
However, one shared goal or aim of most kinds of meditation practices is knowing yourself better, becoming less reactive, and becoming more consciously aware in day to day life. One common benefit is a reduction in stress, along with a correlated reduction in the physiological symptoms of stress such as hypertension and digestive issues, among others.
These are tremendous benefits from meditation that align with your NVC practice: approaching situations with less emotional charge, and being able to respond rather than react.
NVC will benefit your meditation. Meditation will improve your NVC. We expand on these ideas and possibilities below.
How to Begin Meditating and Guided Meditations
How do you begin meditating? Are guided meditations useful?
One of the best ways to begin meditating is to find an approach that is highly recommended by someone you trust.
Because there are so many kinds of meditation, and because they work in different ways and toward similar but different ends — and because not all types of meditation resonate equally with all people — you will find it helpful to spend some time exploring what’s out there.
In fact, you may need to practice a particular modality, tradition, or technique for a few years before you know whether or not it’s for you.
Guided meditations are in some ways different than traditional meditation techniques. They use words to guide your awareness — they point your attention to things that the person who created the meditation thinks would be beneficial to you.
Guided meditations can be very useful and helpful. They can remind us of things that are important to us, open up new awareness, or help us put our attention somewhere more life-serving than where it has been.
Within traditional meditation techniques — and outside of guided meditations — there are some techniques that use mantras and others that use no verbalization at all. There are many schools and traditions of meditation that use mantras — and they use them in different ways and toward different ends.
Among the traditions that use no verbalization or mantra, there is still great variability. These can range from simple mindfulness (in which we try to be aware and awake in every moment); to pure witnessing (in which you notice that there is a part of you that is noticing that you are noticing, and you keep “resting in the Witness” of that part of you which is aware of the perceiver); to Theravadan Vipassana in which you are working with the breath and sensations in the body to increase awareness and equanimity (non-reactivity).
One interesting thing to note is that a great many of the meditation traditions work with the breath.
Breathing is perhaps the only bodily function that happens both consciously (intentionally) and unconsciously — independently of intention or effort. As such, your breath provides a bridge between the conscious and subconscious. For example, when you feel agitated, afraid, or angry your breathing pattern shifts. Becoming aware of this can be one of the first steps toward slowing a reaction and becoming conscious of your feelings and needs.
At PuddleDancer Press we encourage you to deepen your being, your awareness — to up-level your consciousness. We think meditation is extremely useful and valuable. We are not here to recommend a specific meditation practice or technique. And we do encourage you to ask your trusted friends and advisors, do some research, and start meditating — for its own benefits and also for the ways it can enhance or deepen your NVC practice (more on this below).
How Nonviolent Communication Can Enhance Your Existing Meditation Practice
How can NVC enhance your existing meditation practice?
Meditators still have life-disconnected, judgmental thoughts. They are not immune from cultural conditioning around rigid concepts of rightness/wrongness, good/bad — all of which NVC helps you to understand and reframe in a deeper way that leads to compassion for yourself and others. In this way NVC aligns with — and can even speed up — some of the benefits meditation provides.
Meditators — regardless of their spiritual attainments — still have interpersonal relationships and need to use communication to conduct the necessary information exchange in order to co-exist peacefully and solve problems with others. There is no modality quite like NVC that allows us to understand ourselves and others in a way that can lead to co-created action in the service of life.
NVC and meditation complement each other. (It is beyond the scope of this article to evaluate every kind of meditation with regard to its alignment with NVC. However, generally speaking, we do see a synergy between NVC & meditation.)
Whatever meditation technique you use, NVC contributes to reducing internal friction. This helps you get back to meditating as well as to the other things that are important in your life.
With NVC’s self-empathy skills you can understand your deeper motivations more clearly and reframe any self-judgmental thinking in light of these. This is one of the ways NVC can help reduce interior tension for meditators.
Another common cause of stress is interpersonal strife.
There is a subtle trap meditators can sometimes fall prey to: thinking they can solve relationship issues by meditating them away. On occasion this is partially true: through meditating you might have an insight about the role you played — self-responsibility! — which can increase the speed and the intention with which you choose to make amends or have an important conversation. The missing piece in all this is exceptional interpersonal skills, which NVC provides.
When you have relationships that are more harmonious your mind and heart are less burdened — and your meditation can often go deeper when you have less stress and strife in your life.
These are some of the ways NVC can enhance your existing meditation practice.
Here are some additional resources in case you want to dive deeper:
Marshall Rosenberg on How Meditation Can Improve Your Nonviolent Communication Skills
Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, who established NVC, traveled the world for several decades mediating conflicts and training people in NVC.
Some of his students studied directly with him for years, and some even traveled with him, following his busy schedule.
After many years of attending workshops and observing the results, one of Dr. Rosenberg’s students asked him about something this student found both confusing and intriguing. “Why is it that some people only take a few workshops and they take to NVC like fish to water, seeming to progress very quickly in their NVC consciousness and skills?… and why is that other people take workshop after workshop — for years! — and seem to progress very little, and with difficulty?”
Dr. Rosenberg reflected on it for a moment and replied, “I don’t know. But I have seen that people who have some sort of awareness-based personal practice do seem to progress faster in NVC than those who do not.”
Puddledancer Press Books for Meditation
PuddleDancer Press is the foremost proponent and publisher of books on Nonviolent Communication and meditation.
NVC has shown time and again that human beings are capable of improving their sense of harmony within themselves as well as with others.
Because of the way NVC stimulates you to know yourself and develop interior clarity, using NVC and meditation together will speed up your progress in both!
Our books on NVC and meditation can help you:
- Create exceptional personal and professional relationships,
- Offer compassionate understanding to others,
- Know when and how to ask for that same understanding for yourself,
- Prevent and resolve misunderstandings and conflicts,
- Speak your truth in a clear, powerful way more likely to lead to harmony than conflict,
- Create mutual understanding without coercion.
Whether you are a long-time student — or are brand new to NVC — PuddleDancer Press has the educational resources, including the books on meditation, to help you grow your emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills, and communication prowess.
Check out our catalog of books on meditation… and give yourself the gift of Compassionate Communication!
More information on Books about Meditation
NVC Meditation Web Resources
Click here for Marshall Rosenberg Meditation Articles
Click here for Marshall Rosenberg Meditation Videos
Click here for Nonviolent Communication Meditation Articles
Click here for Nonviolent Communication Meditation Videos
There is a wealth of information on Nonviolent Communication – in articles and videos. Of course we endorse all of Marshall’s sharing’s, however, there are many transcripts and videos created by others. Due to limited resources we do not verify the full accuracy of any particular video or articles created by others, even though there is plenty of wonderful and educational information on the web.