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Eco Village Intensive, Day Two

Passionfruit grows over the wooden verandah in Australia near Byron Bay retreat centre

What a fine venue for a vegan lunch during a retreat #Australia #retreatcentre #ecovillage #over50 #wellbeing @boneAndsilver

If you’ve missed what’s going on, please read about Day One here. After a huge day of study, I’m a bit exhausted as I blog this. But, I have had an Empathy Bath! Do you know what that is? Well, I’ll tell you later…

First, we have to do the 9am Check in. So we all arrive, to sit in our wooden chair circle, then rather than ask how we’re feeling, the facilitator sends us out into the bush to find a plant that embodies how we’re doing today.

Fine. I was awake till 1.30, and so was ’17’; we have no idea why we couldn’t sleep (an overstimulating dahl and rice?). The cat also escaped, so wanted to come in at 5am (by the way, there’s a No Pets policy at the proposed Eco Village, so I’ll be happily bringing that up with him real soon). We overslept, then the tradesman arrived at 8.15 as we were cranking up for that final 10-minute frenzy before actually leaving home…

A crazy stick sums up how I feel about myself today

Feeling frazzled? Not enough sleep will do that to you #over50 #wellbeing #selfcare #selfimage #Australia #native @boneAndsilver

Anyway, everyone returned to the sacred circle with pretty flowers, heart-shaped leaves and rocks, even a passionfruit. Lovely. When it was my turn, I just held this out like a large bride’s bouquet, and didn’t speak.

It was perfect. Everyone got me.

We moved onto the main presentation about Non-Violent Communication (NVC), or Compassionate Communication, started by Marshall Rosenberg in the US [where is he now when we really need him]. It’s about language, and intention, with a focus on Needs:

‘My needs are met in consideration of yours. Your needs are met in consideration of mine.’

[Tell that to the errant feline, and reluctant houseworker ’17’].

But I digress. There are four steps to the process, which we practised:

  1. Observations (trying to remain non-judgemental about what’s happening, and really just look at the observable facts, not your ‘story’)
  2. Feelings (being clear that no one can ‘make you feel anything’, and that Feelings are caused by Needs, Met or Unmet)
  3. Needs (are Universal, yet are different to the Strategies we use to get them met e.g “money” is not actually a Need, it’s a Strategy to gain shelter/food/travel etc)
  4. Requests (effective ones are Present, Positive, and Do-Able; they replace Demands e.g ‘Don’t mow on Sundays!’ is replaced by ‘Can we have a protocol about machinery use on Sundays?’)

There’s an awful lot of detail I’m not sharing, to keep this post reasonable in length, but we did do a great exercises to practise Empathy (getting our skills up for the Bath). For example: Person A vents for 2 mins about a conflict that’s bugging them (not too heavy- I chose ’17’s fairly consistent avoidance of wiping up/cleaning up the kitchen- do I hear an Amen from all the Mums out there). Person B reflects back what they heard you say for 2 mins. Then Person B uses a list of Feeling words and Needs to create a real sense of Empathy for Person A for 1 min. I definitely felt seen and heard.

A list of Universal Needs from Compassionate Communication #Australia #NVC #over50blogger #wellbeing #selfcare

A list of Universal Needs from Compassionate Communication #Australia #NVC #over50blogger #wellbeing #selfcare @boneAndsilver

But not as good as the Empathy Bath:

  • Split into groups of 5. Each take 10 cards with different Needs written on them
  • One person talks uninterrupted for 5 minutes about a deeper conflict
  • The other 4 listen deeply for one minute, then begin to reflect on what needs they can hear being expressed that aren’t being met- they pick out the cards naming that need, and place them in front of the speaker. That person reflects on them, or rejects them if they’re not right, but keeps expressing about the conflict.
  • In the last minute, the speaker picks the 3 cards that particularly resonated, and closes with them.
The four elements come together in the centre of the sacred circle

Our altar at the Eco Village Intensive #Australia #altar #over50 #wellbeing @boneAndsilver

What’s this got to do with an Eco Village? Well, everything. Some of the first responses to my two recent posts were about the conflicts of community living; the intention behind running these intensives is that we all gain a common language, and a relationship with experts in various fields that we can call on in times of trouble.

But right now, my intention is for a good night’s sleep. So I’m outta here, with a final image of our altar, and wishes for a peaceful day for everyone reading this.

In gratitude for new ways of thinking, even when I’m tired like a dried branch, G xO 


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