Born and grown up in Estonia, I now live and serve with my beloved husband in Sweden, Northern Europe. I’m a mother of two and a grandmother of eight children. In 2002, I came across the Nonviolent Communication (NVC) process, developed by Marshall B. Rosenberg, and since then, learning, practicing, and sharing NVC has been my life and soul. I was trained by Marshall Rosenberg and other Center for Nonviolent Communication (CNVC) Certified Trainers.
In 2006, I became Certified Trainer, and since then I have earned my livelihood by sharing NVC in Estonia and number of other countries. These days my main focus is sharing NVC within the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) devotee community as Empathic Communication. Connecting on the heart level and creating meaningful, loving relationships between Krishna’s devotees is exceptionally dear to me.
It was the year 1965 when my mum and dad named me Merike. About forty years later, I got the spiritual name Madhuri Radhika devi dasi from my eternal father — my spiritual master, who initiated me to the most sublime process of Bhakti Yoga.
Between those aforementioned events, my destiny brought me in contact with Marshall Rosenberg and his inspiring co-trainers of Nonviolent Communication.
Love at First Sight
I fell in love with NVC during my very first 3-day training. Experiencing the trainers genuinely living their teaching touched the deepest core of my heart. I couldn’t believe what I experienced; therefore, I was “spying” on them during the breaks, mealtimes, and after sessions, wondering, “Are they really living also outside of the training what they teach?” I wasn’t disappointed. Since then, NVC has become my love, my passion, immense joy, inspiration, and my life.
NVC “Career” Begins
In about a month after my first training, I started sharing NVC. To my great satisfaction, I got encouraging and inspiring feedback. That was the beginning of my NVC “career.” I decided to embark on a journey of becoming a Certified Trainer with the Center for Nonviolent Communication (CNVC).
Within about half a year I noticed my NVC consciousness beginning to fade. Since I hungered for more, I started organizing NVC trainings in my native country, Estonia. That was a great source of learning, inspiration, and growth for me and the beginning of long-term friendship and cooperation with the trainers who inspired me and are my dear friends and role models to this today.
Meanwhile, I also deepened my NVC skills and consciousness in several trainings abroad, in the U.S., India, and Europe. Amongst these were two International Intensive Trainings (IITs) with Marshall Rosenberg and his trainer crews at Rinkesta, Sweden, and in Budapest, Hungary, and a one-year North American NVC leadership training in California.
Juicy Fruits: Two Real-Life Examples
All these efforts began to give the juicy fruits of living what I was teaching, and I love to share with you, Dear Reader, one powerful example from the place where I worked then.
I was promoted to a middle-manager position and got a new supervisor. The way this person managed his subordinates, including me, did not meet my needs for integrity, honesty, and meaning, amongst a few other needs, and I decided to speak up. Yet, I did not want to do it out of fear of authority. I didn’t want to create more violence in the world by rebelling or protesting against his way of dealing with us.
So, I chose to do my inner work on enemy images of him. It took about three to four months to reach a tremendous internal connection with my core needs. Only then did I approach him, expressing my needs. This triggered a “thunderstorm.” The man became furious and spitted fire like an angry dragon. Yet, to my great surprise and satisfaction, I could stay completely calm, grounded, and compassionate throughout this exchange. The next day this person approached me most respectfully, which was highly unusual in his case.
Maybe our encounter was the first time in his life to experience different way to communicate besides the fight-or-flight response? Perhaps this was the first time for him to experience a heart-level connection with another human being?
Dear Reader, I would like to share one more work story, and I hope you bear with me.
Once, I chose to express appreciation to my crew, consisting of male persons, except me, in an “NVC way.” My desire to live NVC and be sincere was so strong that I was no longer satisfied with less. So, in our weekly crew meeting, I began to share with each person what he had done that enriched my life within our work relationships. The men became exceptionally quiet, and I could sense that they took it in. They allowed their hearts to be touched. This happened more than twenty years ago, yet some of them still share their appreciation for our time together.
Jumping Into Unknown
In 2005, I quit my eight-to-five job. This was a huge jump into the unknown because my workplace fully maintained me — besides the salary, I was also provided with living space and all kinds of other bonuses. I weighed between my needs and finally chose to take this leap of faith. NVC had grounded me in a deep conviction that if I serve life, life will serve me, and I followed my calling with a joyful heart. I became a freelancer with a single goal to learn, live, and share NVC.
And life was serving me — I got a soft landing into my freelance life through a two-year E.U. project called “Reducing Violence in Estonian Orphanages.” This meant doing basic NVC training for orphanages’ personnel all over the country. That gave me a decent income for the first two years and meant constant traveling to several orphanages throughout Estonia. Sharing NVC with the people in orphanages was great fun, and I formed many long-term connections and friendships. I felt free, full of the joy of sharing my passion, and living the meaningful life of my dream.
2006 was another milestone year in my NVC adventure. Under the care and guidance of my lovely assessor, I became a Certified NVC Trainer with CNVC. I was then, and I still am, the first and only CNVC Certified Trainer in Estonia, but fortunately there is hope that very soon another trainer will become certified with CNVC.
Reflecting on my NVC adventures, there have been primarily sweet responses to the trainings and I want to share and celebrate a few delightful surprises with you, Dear Reader.
We once did a series of NVC sessions with a friend and an NVC practitioner for male prisoners. After the last meeting, I found a heartfelt gratitude letter hidden in my Jackal-puppet from one of the participants. That was nourishing and heart-touching, and it startled me because I couldn’t recall even a moment when my puppets were unattended during the training.
Another sweet and meaningful memory is from my one-year NVC training for parents. Since families with children used to be on the lower end of the income scale in Estonia, I gave this them as a gift and asked only my small travel costs be covered by the participants.
I thoroughly enjoyed sharing NVC with these eager and attentive parents who, from the core of their hearts, were desiring to learn and apply a new, healthier paradigm in bringing up their children.
After a few years, when my resources were close to zero, a surprise contribution landed in my bank account as a token of appreciation from one of the couples participating in these trainings.
It was another powerful reminder of “if you serve life, life serves you.”
A “Total Failure”
I can also recall one incident I labeled “a total failure.” It was an open NVC training where a participant “crushed” me entirely with his feedback and walked away. I burst into tears. Then, I connected with my pain and sadness and mourned missing the opportunity to convey the beauty and potency of something so meaningful to me. When I shared this openly with the remaining participants, one of them responded: “This was the best part of the training.”
Another memory surfaces that I would love to share. In 2007, I was invited to share NVC in a European eco-community. While there, I was asked to mediate between the community and a firehouse man. He was an unkempt homeless person from a street to whom the community had given shelter and service, keeping a fire in a heating house. On the day of mediation, when I wanted to hand a sheet with feelings and needs to the firehouse man, he screamed at me and threw the sheet back to my face. By Krishna’s grace, I was able to connect with his needs for respect and dignity, and mediation took place. I do not remember anything remarkable from the rest of the process, but I met a fine gentleman in the community courtyard the next day. I greeted him and was about to pass when it struck me, wait a moment — this is the firehouse man! He was shaved, combed, clean, and neat. Something must have happened during the mediation that (re)transformed him overnight.
New Horizons Opening
Around 2008, I began practicing Bhakti Yoga, and in 2012, I moved to Sweden to join a Hare Krishna village community. I had the great joy of regularly sharing NVC with local Hare Krishna devotees there. Some tangible results included one participant saving her children’s marriages, another getting a life-changing impulse to follow her heart’s calling, and another overcoming depression, anxiety, and loneliness.
Since then, I have mainly focused on sharing NVC within the worldwide Hare Krishna movement — ISKCON. Although I consider myself a beginner, it brings me great joy and satisfaction to try to serve Krishna’s devotees by sharing the gifts of Nonviolent Communication, known by Hare Krishnas as Empathic Communication.
Thank you, Dear Reader, for your attention, and I am eagerly looking forward to serving you!
“Learn to be quiet enough to hear the genuine in yourself, so that you can hear it in others.”