If awareness and liberation are high on the scale of what you value, you might appreciate learning the skills of NonViolent Communication (NVC). Speaking of liberation…what’s your response when I say “Mother’s Day”? Let me tell you about mine; I’ll put it in NVC terms.


Happy Birthday, Mom!

It’s not just Mother’s Day this time of May; it’s also my mom’s birthday, and this year she’s turning 82. My mom to me is like the towering, gorgeous Empress tree in my front yard. I named the tree after her, Fosca, and it is in bloom every year at the time of her birthday: big, bright, far-reaching, beautiful, and messy with blossoms.

As I am appreciating the blooms on the tree, this thought crosses my head: “It sucks that my mom is not here to enjoy this with me.”

If I just leave the statement as is, I’m pretty much stuck inside of my head. What are my options? Here’s where NVC comes in; let me walk you through how it works.

First, I notice the contraction in my body, and I pause. I take a breath and I say to myself, “That’s an evaluation.” An evaluation is an interpretive thought. I restate this as an observation, “I live in Seattle and my mother lives in Milan, and her birthday and mother’s day are near. And apparently I’m having some feelings about it.”

I begin to engage with curiosity around those feelings. Am I feeling sad? I listen to my body–my yoga practice is the key way I know how to do this. I follow my breath and the felt sense of this initial sadness into my body. Is it melancholy here around my diaphragm that I’m feeling? As I continue to listen, I realize that this fluttering feeling around the diaphragm is actually anxiety. A sort of concern (fear?), that our time together is shortening as she gets older.

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Naming the feelings in the body at a Communication of Yoga workshop

As I keep feeling into my belly, what is it that I’m longing for? I’m longing for connection with her, I’m longing to know her deeply, and be known deeply. As I become more connected with the preciousness of this longing I’m feeling a sort of inner fullness, a softening in my shoulders actually, and I can sense a smile beginning to form on my face. Now I am feeling appreciative of the quality of relationship that I share with my mom, which is rooted in the quality of the relationship with myself. I now sense more freedom in the choices that I have ahead: Do I want to call her now? Write her a card? Or just sit in the sweetness of how precious she is to me? I feel much more alive than when I first thought of Mother’s Day.

If you want to navigate this terrain, begin to name your feelings as you find them alive in your body, then I encourage you to join me and my esteemed colleague Kathleen Macferran at The Communication of Yoga: Compassion On & Off the Mat, our current teaching that explores the skills of NonViolent Communication and the practice of yoga.


Aditi Yoga | May 22 | 12:30-4:30 p.m.

8 Limbs Phinney | June 12 |12-4 p.m.


Feathered Pipe Ranch | August 22-28
Immerse yourself in this practice at a week-long retreat in Montana. You won’t find more inspiring and beautiful setting to dive in and embrace this transformative work. Please note: Feathered Pipe Ranch requests registrations as soon as possible!

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