Karl Steyaert

Language of Report: 
Year of Report: 
Share My Report With: 
General Public (Including Certified Trainers and Certification Candidates)
A. Approximately how many training days did you have this year?: 
B. Briefly list the groups and organizations you worked with this year as a trainer.: 
Living Routes (India), Joy Living & Learning Center (India)
C. Approximately how many people did you offer NVC training to this year?: 
D. What are you celebrating about your training experiences this year? What was significant for you? What touched your heart?: 
I am particularly celebrating that 2008 involved my sharing NVC in India for the first time, and having the opportunity to co-create a 3-week NVC Camp with fellow NVC enthusiasts from around the globe. It inspired me greatly to have a sense of deep companionship and shared vision with trainers from other countries, to practice living the process in a residential intentional community setting where people are attempting to live this path in an ongoing way year-round, and to experience the boundaries between “certified trainer” and “learner” joyfully blurred. Also, I enjoyed co-creating a new practice of “Zen-pathy” with a friend, which involved us interspersing periods of silent sitting meditation with periods of authentic expression and empathic reflection.
E. Would you share some difficult experiences you had while training this year and how you handled them?: 
At a 3 week NVC Camp with multiple concurrent Open Sessions, I offered a session entitled “Freestyle NVC.” At the beginning of the session I explained that unlike other sessions, at this session I would not be the “facilitator” so much as a co-participant and co-facilitator along with everyone else present. I did my best to express that I was inviting each person to connect in the moment with what was alive for them, what they were longing for, and what they might offer or request to meet their needs. I had imagined that the people who would attend this session would have a certain basis in NVC, and therefore some ability to self-connect and make requests. As it happened, for three of the participants who were present, 1) they had only just begun exploring NVC a week before, 2) English was their second language, and 3) the day before they had just experienced me offering a much more traditionally “taught” NVC introduction (and therefore may have expected more of the same). Five minutes into the session, after having tried to explain further the format of the session, I realized that these three participants were quite confused, and I also realized that some of the other people present did not appear as ready as I had hoped to self-organize themselves into meaningful engaged activity. At a certain moment, one person with a few years NVC experience expressed frustration with what was happening. I tried to connect with her concern, but I was not very successful, as my attention was now being pulled to the 3 who were quite new to NVC, and whose well-being was becoming my primary concern. Fortunately there were others in the session who connected with the participant who had expressed frustration, while I connected with the 3 participants and helped get them started with a basic NVC learning exercise based on the needs they were expressing. In the end, I had some mess to “clean up” through dialogue with those who had experienced frustration and confusion during the session, and I also had great clarity about how I would like to create a clearer description for such a session so that those who show up have a clear understanding of what the format will be and what this may ask of them. Furthermore, I learned a great deal about how to connect and communicate more clearly and effectively in the midst of a chaotic group experience.
F. How do you teach the spiritual basis of Nonviolent Communication in your workshops and training programs? : 
As they are the means that I most trust, I primarily share the spiritual basis of NVC through demonstration/embodiment and creating experiential learning. Through my words, actions, and attitude, I try to embody values such as: empathic presence, compassion, authenticity, respect for the sacredness of all life, transparency, celebration of life, joyful service, power-sharing, and non-attachment to outcome. To offer some examples, my practices include offering people authentic appreciations as they arise, expressing my vulnerability when I sense it will serve connection and learning to do so, making collaborative decisions through open dialogue, and offering trainings as a gift. I also strive to create learning experiences that illuminate these values, as well as offering people a first hand experience of various understandings, including the transformational effect of empathic presence, the universality of human needs, the freedom offered by non-attachment to strategy, etc. In addition, I often reinforce this experiential learning through shared reflection, allowing underlying concepts to be made clear.
G. Please describe your social change goals...: 
I am excited about catalyzing cultural shifts and co-creating transformational communities within which people experience interdependence with all life, and support for their full aliveness, authenticity, and development. This passion takes many forms, including: co-creating intentional communities informed by NVC, Restorative Circles, Dynamic Governance (Sociocracy/Holacracy), and other forms of life-serving consciousness and tools; supporting existing communities and other organizations to integrate life-serving values, and the above-listed forms of consciousness and tools if they so choose; offering multi-day trainings that explicitly invite a high degree of co-creation, typically using an Open Space Technology format; offering all trainings and other services that I organize personally on a gift economy basis; supporting communities to create Restorative Systems and facilitating Restorative Circles, which integrate NVC consciousness and skills; and mentoring people to find their path of passionate contribution in the world. My long-range dream is of a world of interdependent human communities that are ecologically and socially sustainable, interwoven with thriving non-human communities of life. Specifically, I envision a world where: all people receive modeling of, and formal and informal education in, living “interdependence,” through embodied training is approaches such as NVC and Restorative Circles, as well as other forms of emotional intelligence, group process, and conflict transformation; people know their neighbors; the majority of food and goods are produced locally and organically; and energy is clean and renewable. Furthermore, in this world, local communities support all people in meeting their needs for health, nourishment, and shelter; education consists of people receiving support as they explore the gifts they are most passionate about; children are “raised by” the community; people walk or bicycle easily to work; non-human life forms thrive in protected wilderness areas; products are designed to be highly durable, non-toxic and reusable; creativity and play are woven into all life paths and forms of livelihood; mind, body and spirit are all valued as an integrated whole; and a nested holarchy of double-linked governing circles from local to global politics make consent-based decisions about ecological, political, and economic policy. As I review the vision, mission and aim of CNVC, I see the practices and vision I describe above as directly mirroring the larger purpose of CNVC, and I am grateful to have such companionship on this path!
J. Please describe your efforts to create, or join, an NVC circle or organization.: 
In 2008 I was living in California and then India. In both locations I had strong connection to NVC community. In the San Francisco Bay Area I was a trainer with Bay Area NVC, as well as having an extensive circle of connection, shared support, and friendship with NVC trainers, supporters, and learners, both in California and world-wide. I co-led NVC trainings with Francois Beausoleil, and regularly exchanged empathic listening with many NVC friends. In addition, I was a participant in the lively and deep learning community of Robert Gonzales’ 2007 LIFE program, as well as serving as an assistant for Robert’s 2008 LIFE program. When in India, I participated in the Auroville NVC community, most significantly by offering training sessions at the three-week NVC Camp at the Joy Living & Learning Center.
K. Summarize participants’ evaluations, and how their feedback resulted in new learning or growth for you this past year.: 
Participants’ evaluations typically described celebration of learning and inspiration, and particularly emphasized appreciation for two things: 1) walking the talk by embodying compassion and empathy; and 2) playful, experiential learning opportunities. As I mentioned above, my most clearly challenging feedback came from a session I offered, entitled “Freestyle NVC”, which left some participants confused or frustrated. I have reflected extensively on this experience and how I might have: 1) communicated more clearly before and at the beginning of the session to insure that those present had a full understanding of and willingness to participate in the more emergent, co-created experience; 2) remained more self-connected in the moment such that I might have been more present to the pain and confusion of participants, and then supported them in identifying needs and making requests; 3) communicated and collaborated more effectively and openly with the people in the session. I recognize that one of the biggest learning opportunities for me was realizing that I was quite mentally and emotionally exhausted from 4 months of full time teaching when I offered the session, and that planning for more rest and integration time would have greatly supported my presence in the session.
L. What are your current growing edges or challenges as a trainer that you will be working on in the future?: 
I see my main growing edge is to stay more fully present and self-connected during the course of a training. When “challenge” arises, I would like to be more fully able to connect with any distress that may be arising for me, while also attending to the needs present for others in the group. In addition to having this general intention, two of the practices that I see as supporting me are: 1) to transform self-limiting beliefs such as “I need to have everything under control when I’m facilitating a group” or “It’s my fault if people get upset during a training and I have to cure them of their upset as quickly possible”; and 2) planning for self-care, self-connection, and external empathic support (if needed) prior to a training, to insure that I am well internally resourced and supported during the training itself.
M. If you found opportunities to work with other trainers this year, please share the most meaningful experiences for you.: 
When in India, I had the opportunity to offer trainings alongside NVC trainers Karsten Schacht-Petersen and Shantigarbha at the NVC Camp in Auroville. I particularly remember lively and rich explorations with Karsten about how to live and teach in congruence with the principles and spirit of NVC. I so appreciated how passionately Karsten held to his values, while also extending understanding to where I was coming from on the topic. Thanks, Karsten!
N. Is there anything else you would enjoy sharing with the CNVC network?: 
Thank you for your shared commitment to creating a world that works for all!

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