Author Archives: L'aura

“Embracing Interdependence with Nonviolent Communication”

Yay, an article I’m writing for Lifelong Learning Foundation’s brochure… :-)

Embracing Interdependence with Nonviolent Communication

What does walking a path of Nonviolence actually mean? From my experience, it is so much more than I had ever expected, both in terms of the willingness and commitment it requires from my side, as well as what it offers in return and how much it can enrich my life as a result. It is not new that “No man is an island” – we are interdependent and need each other more than we might want to accept. As humans, we’ve created complex systems, from families and schools to trade and commerce to justice and law enforcement, all of which keep us in a variety of interdependent relationships with each other. Now living Nonviolence may look relatively easy with loved ones or within apparently harmonious systems, where it’s clear that my intentions are to show care and respect and to generally create an atmosphere of mutual benefit. But what about living Nonviolence when my relationships are less than harmonious or even apparently violent and disrespectful? Or what about when I forget our interdependence and think that the other doesn’t really matter, that he or she has no impact on me, that our paths will never cross again, or that he or she doesn’t deserve to be acknowledged?

I find Nonviolent Communication to be an incredibly powerful resource, one that offers a resilient framework within which I can celebrate the relationships that work and honour how they contribute to life, and at the same time embrace and walk safely towards the relationships that appear more challenging.

One fundamental principle that Nonviolent Communication puts forward is that behind all of our actions is an attempt to meet a basic human need. So no matter what someone says or does, we can trust he’s doing his best in the moment, given his resources, to express a need for, say love, safety, belonging, or to be seen. With this understanding, I can learn to develop a genuine curiosity towards others, and instead of allowing myself to be controlled by my own judgements of the person or his behaviour, I can now wonder about why he did what he did. Did he yell those swear words because he was afraid and needed to trust that our friendship still mattered?

This genuine curiosity supports me to slow down and connect to a deeper part of my own being. It allows me to shift from listening to what my head is saying (possible judgements and blame) to what my heart knows is true (we are all so alike and have the same universal feelings and needs, just that they’re activated at different times). I might even be able to see that this person’s behaviour is actually not about me or against me; it is instead just an expression of his own inner state in the moment. In this way, I don’t have to take what he says personally, I don’t have to defend myself or react, because all he’s really doing is just saying, “Please see my need.” If I can learn to separate what’s going on for another from my own reaction to it, I can slowly learn to sit with discomfort, to see our shared humanity and develop compassion. Only in this state can I have genuine care and curiosity for what’s going on for another, especially if it appears like he’s trying to attack me (and therefore possibly putting some of my own needs at risk).

Now it doesn’t mean that I have to like or agree with this person’s particular way of expressing himself. I may actually not appreciate his present choices at all – and the shift happens when I can see that my power lies in how I choose to respond to it. I can do it the old way and just react with my habitual patterns (maybe anger and blame, maybe avoidance and denial), or I can choose to take responsibility for what’s going on in me and develop that same curiosity towards myself. What needs are at stake in this situation, what am I really trying to express behind this anger that’s emerging now? Maybe I too have a need for safety, or to be seen. Maybe I’m fed up and want to trust that we can find a different way of communicating.

Once I have this clarity about what’s going on for me and the curiosity for what’s going on in the other, I can initiate a dialogue based on our feelings and needs, instead of on blame and judgement. Blame and judgement are likely to create more distance, and possibly more violence, between us, making it virtually impossible to fully enjoy the interdependence of our lives. When I shift my focus to our needs, we can start to look at concrete ways of moving forward, focusing on what we do want instead of on what we don’t want. There’s the potential for a whole new world to open up, where there’s an abundance of strategies for getting our needs met and we become less and less dependent on others needing to behave they way we want them to. And often by simply understanding each other on this deeper needs-based level, we are able to feel connection in our shared humanity, and what appeared to previously be a conflict might lessen in intensity.

Although choosing to live Nonviolence invites us to reconsider the way we think and behave and in that light can take us on a deep life journey, it also offers some basic key distinctions and tangible steps to support us as we deepen this practice. So the beginner and advanced practitioner alike can walk through the steps and move from disconnection towards connection, thereby increasing our willingness and ability to co-exist together on this planet.

~ by L’aura Joy
CNVC Certified Trainer

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Telling our RC Stories…

super exciting!

live feedback / sharing about our most real RC yet…

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what hat am i wearing…?


if i walk around so much in my own world, with my own reality, my own concerns, my own inner state or self-connection as being the most “important” thing right now, then how can i be open to receiving another… and the life they may be wanting to express…?

had an interesting realization – maybe nothing new, but just a sweet reminder, a sweet “hey l’aura, which way do you want to show up here…?”

was out for lunch with mom, sharing about our own stuff – her plans to go for an ayurvedic retreat, our RC work at creativity, my training in kerala next week, my community challenges at joy, etc… basically, in my own world – me and my life and some of her and her life…

as we were packing up, someone approached our table and attempted to make a request to interrupt for a few minutes… not too skilled, and then several long long long minutes of pain… unmet needs…

hmm… what do i do here…? i wasn’t particularly wanting to listen, i “thought” i wasn’t really given a choice, i didn’t really engage nor disengage, i wondered about what mom would/would not do, caught her eyes drifting a few times, the stories and pain got more complex… “oh, she’s just complaining… oh, what does she want from us…? oh, she’s not clear about her request…”

i made a few gestures to stay engaged… “are you just really looking for support…? i guess you feel helpless…?”

i noticed a vague question playing in my mind – “which hat am i wearing…? how am i choosing to show up in this public space, yet on a private lunch date…?” am i just wanting to be invisible, be myself, have a moment with mom and not be sought after, not be interrupted, not be asked anything by others…? or am i open and willing to put aside that “on personal time” hat when and if the moment emerges…? am i willing to take my “empathic, open and authentic” hat out of my pocket…?

i noticed slowly softening… didn’t really want to listen to all the complaining right then and there (would have appreciated more awareness and choice and a clearer request for space/empathy/support/time/advice – but then again, that’s my “on my personal time” hat speaking)… but at the same time, i could connect to the human heart in pain and in need of support and hope… obviously she came knocking at our door… she’s desperate and i guess a tiny part wants to believe there’s a small chance of finding something if she talks to me (even though i’ve said ‘no’ to her plea before)… yes, of course i can listen. of course i can relate. of course she’s just like me… i mean, holy shit, am i not going through similar issues – conflict among community members?! :-) i even caught myself having the judgement “girl, you say you offer healing for others – why don’t you heal yourself first?!” wow, ouchy! and what about you, l’aura?! how about you heal yourself too?! mmm, that’s when the real softening came, i think… but not full-blown… not love, not total commitment to compassion, generosity and walking-you-through-the-fire… but willingess – willingness with honesty… i can’t guarantee anything… it’s not fit for RC, not my ideal situation, but willingness to consider…

so, which hat do i want to be wearing…? am i aware i have different hats…? am i able to carry several spare ones in my pocket and pick them out if they’re needed and/or if i have the spaciousness for them…? no have-to, but i’d like to have more awareness of my choices (otherwise i can catch myself bitching about someone’s bitching…!) :-)


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divine tests…

opened mother’s agenda, somehow trusting that no matter which page i landed upon, it’d be the right one… after a few entries, i get to this:

November 12, 1957

The integral yoga is made up of an uninterrupted series of tests that you must pass through without any advance notice, thereby forcing you to be always vigilant and attentive.

Three groups of examiners conduct these tests. Apparently they have nothing in common and their methods are so different, at times even so seemingly contradictory, that they do not appear to work towards the same goal, and yet they complete one another, they work together for a common aim and each is indispensable for the integral result.

These three categories of tests are: those conducted by the forces of Nature, those conducted by the spiritual and divine forces, and those conducted by the hostile forces. This latter category is the most deceptive in its appearance, and a constant state of vigilance, sincerity and humility is required so as not to be caught by surprise or unprepared.

The most commonplace circumstances, people, the everyday events of life, the most seemingly insignificant things, all belong to one or another of these three categories of examiners. In this considerably complex organization of tests, those events generally considered the most important in life are really the easiest of all examinations to pass, for they find you prepared and on guard. One stumbles more easily over the little pebbles on the path, for they attract no attention.

The qualities more particularly required for the tests of physical Nature are endurance and plasticity, cheerfulness and fearlessness.

For the spiritual tests: aspiration, confidence, idealism, enthusiasm and generosity of self-giving.

For the tests stemming from the hostile forces: vigilance, sincerity and humility.

But do not imagine that those who are tested are on one side and those who test on the other; depending upon the times and circumstances, we are both examiners and examined, and it may even happen that simultaneously, at the very same moment, we are the examined and the examiner. And whatever benefits we derive depend, in both quality and quantity, upon the intensity of our aspiration and the alertness of our consciousness.

To conclude, a final recommendation: never pose as an examiner. For while it is good to remember constantly that perhaps one is passing a very important test, it is, on the other hand, extremely dangerous to imagine oneself entrusted with applying tests to others, for that is an open door to the most absurd and harmful vanities. It is not an ignorant human will that decides these things but the Supreme Wisdom.

Each time a progress is to be made, there is a test to pass.

phew… a mouth-(hand-)full to type!

but exactly… i know i’m being tested all the time, that i’m given loads of opportunities every day to put my practice to the test, to really live the complexities of my values, sometimes seemingly paradoxical…

this morning was no exception… at around 6am, as i was coming down to make some tea, i heard “chop chop” in the background. wondering what it was, and a weensy bit suspicious… found that old amma cutting down branches and leaves for her goats… i yelled out asking what she was doing and why she was back here, that i had already told her before not to come into a private property and take without permission. wow… i could see myself getting all worked up… i think i allowed her denial of her “wrongness” to really get me going and i got so righteous… as she started to pick up the branches off the ground and make a bundle to carry off, i told her to leave them there and leave. she said she was leaving, but refused to drop the branches. i eventually grabbed her kathi (on a long stick), threatening to not give it back until she left the branches… oh my gosh, embarrassing… and i was even embarrassed then, imagining that by this time we had surely woken up the 2 girls in “peace.” embarrassed that they might have judgements about my behaviour, that they might be nvc-judging me, that they might tell irma upon their return – blah blah blah… it was like i so wanted to win, but i just couldn’t. she grabbed hold of her stick, tried to tear my hand off (with not much strength at all), and was swearing up and down to never return, that her goats needed food, etc. i was pissed off, had no way of trusting that my message was getting across, that i could trust her word, that she understood some of my values, etc… but gosh, what a fool i made of myself…

i also wondered about what i was trying to prove… i walked away wondering at how easily i allowed myself to get caught up, to react, to enter straight into an ego-battle where no exit was possible…

and possessiveness, getting stuck in form – my trees, my property, you took without asking… phew…

i also noticed fear, and that was probably when i let go… i wondered about the possible repercussions of me being too strong with her – that the whole village could come “get me…” also, as we both held her kathi, i had an image of her pulling it backwards with a hard jolt and hurting my hand…

what a heavy start to the day… and beautiful test, i guess! :-)

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mmm, cool… a chance to look at this word a little…

lately, nvc participants have been asking about ego – ya, but aren’t we just giving the ego some gratification when we talk about our/someone else’s feelings and needs…? what do we do when we can see that it’s an ego need, and maybe not what the person really needs…?

HUH?! the first few times i felt surprised, struck and even jolted by the “absurdity” of the question (in the context of my inner/outer world). what?! ego?! where the f… are we coming from?! just another spiritual label and judgement. my jackals: gosh, instead of coming to more freedom, we read s*%t like Mother and Sri Aurobindo (and thousands of others) and then we think that we have to abolish ego and that every action that we can’t make sense of is ego, that everything we don’t like in ourselves and others is ego… ego ego ego…

i wondered where this concept came from… it just seemed SO odd to me. it just didn’t fit into my paradigm of reality, based on what NVC (and more lately IFS) offers me. i guess ego is something we’re labeling, but i don’t think that ‘something’ is always the same thing… i guess i might have parts (maybe exiled ones or firefighters) who might sometimes behave in ways that other parts of mine don’t appreciate. they get triggered (scared?) and start to judge the other one, maybe sometimes labeling it as ego. but then i’d just say that the part who ‘acted out’ was (obviously!) trying to meet a need, but that very likely the strategy was not 100% flaw-proof and so maybe some other needs weren’t met at the same time. so then come the judgements, “you’re so selfish, egoistic; all you think about is yourself; you just wanted the other to lose, etc…”

the reason this is all so alive right now is because i had an interesting moment this morning, and i suddenly thought, “oh, is that what they mean by ego?!” i was out running and was about to pass an old amma picking up goat leaves. i’ve seen her before, alone, but this time she had 3 young boys with her. one boy looked back, saw me approaching and then started (in my judgement) mocking me, pretending to be running alongside his friends. i noticed some mild irritation arise in me – mild because i’ve seen such behaviour before and so therefore it’s always a bit expected; irritation because a part of me is so bored with being seen/treated as a weird outsider… anyway, when i passed the boy, i tapped him lightly on the head (his height was perfect – his head came up to my chest) and said, “dhai ‘monkey,’ yen ande merri wodaran…?” meaning, “hey monkey, how come you’re running that way…?” i passed them and they giggled after me.

i noticed a small part of me that had an impulse to turn around – and do what, i don’t know… but something that – exactly – ego! something that was so-called hurt or ‘dishonoured’ and needed to protect itself, needed to stand up for itself, needed to win ‘the fight,’ couldn’t let those stupid kids win. wow… l’aura… look at yourself… making a big deal, getting all wound up… you know you couldn’t win anyway… we always have our freedom… no matter how scary you might appear, those kids could still laugh at you once you’re gone… haha…! pathetic! now, this all happened so quickly and with so much lightness that i’m actually celebrating! i’m celebrating my chilled-out-ness and celebrating my observer-mode, and celebrating the learning and clarity at the same time (i guess learning and clarity are harder to come by when i’m caught up in pain…)!

then i thought, huh, okay… how would it not be ego – without judging and suppressing my own reactions…? how could i still have that reaction, that feeling of being made fun of (and therefore excluded, not respected), that longing to be seen and accepted for who i am…? of course, i just have to have an authentic dialogue – hey kid, when you do that, i get the sense you’re making fun of me. you know, i’ve lived here my whole life and i’d like to feel like one family with you… but i guess it’s weird, huh, seeing these westerners running around for no reason…? like we take ourselves so seriously…? and i guess you were just playing with me, that you didn’t really mean anything to hurt me…? is that it…?

this way, my so-called ego (or i’d prefer: wounded part) gets to be heard and received, and my other part (the one that could have been judging that part for being ego in the first place) also gets to have its values lived out – care, curiosity, openness for and trust in that little village kid and his intentions… awesome!

so, you see, no need for EGO labels… it’s all just parts being activated at different times, and feelings and needs… yay!

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my Tree of Life (à la sandyra)

cool… sandyra offered this as a personal exercise to do during one of our Board meetings – in support of getting more self-connected, i guess, as well as coming to greater clarity about what my guiding force is, where my journey is wanting to lead me, what elements are already a support for that and where change and transformation are wanting of attention…

i started with the trunk – my pillar, my guiding force, what keeps me upright and focused… SPIRIT (or spirituality) seems like my main principle in life… my spirituality; my connection to the Divine; my trust in the Universe; my ultimate purpose; presence and being in the moment…

then the roots – what supports me and this life path, what sustains, nourishes, replenishes, allows for this existence…? what emerged was having a safe home, with lots of freedom and room to explore; the experiment of Auroville, which provides a platform within which to explore, as well as a lif-!-(v)elihood; my unconventional “job,” the fact that i work from home and have a lot of freedom in how i structure my day, that i get to do what i like (meaning my so-called “jobs” are connected to meaning and purpose), that my work and spirit are one!; NVC as a practice, which provides so much inspiration, meaning, support, depth, clarity, etc, etc, etc; my body work, like running and dancing; my meditation practice…

some things that i thought might be missing at this roots-level are: a strong support system, such as regular deep empathy, a strong community, and an active and functional Board; having financial sustainability and freedom (the fact that this “stupid” (jackaling) place is dependent on the guest house’s income – it’s just not sustainable and makes the relationship between me or the LLC and the GH a very dependent one and maybe not something that’s fully choiceful and celebratory…); and finally a lack of clarity around my personal vision and mission…

then comes the branches and leaves – life! what do i offer, how do i show up, what’s my contribution, how do i choose to express myself…? NVC (and RC) were the clear first ones: hold space for transformation; receive with depth and openness; share and train… then community: explore living it!; and provide an opportunity for others… and last the guest house (with a big red question mark!): acts as a bridge between guests and AV (provides accommodation and a home away from home); has the possibility and potential for community exploration; playing with unique workers’ relations – and its potential for something more (with another big question mark!)… then it suddenly dawned on me – these 3 branches all make up the LLC! :-) <3 next an LLC tree of life and then seeing where it leads me and spirit…

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Matrimandir trip…

Hello every one..

So you guys are here again to see what I have to say well here it is.. We are trying to bring “joy” back into Joy Guest house..We planned to raise funds for our upcoming Taj trip and thanks to some really close friends and family members we have raised now just enough to take all of our workers and 5 of us to Taj Mahal. We leave on May 3rd and will arrive back on 8th May Kind of short trip but we are hoping to have tons of fun on the way..

Shanti Left for USA on 19th of April and will return in July 1st week. Her sister sent an email letting us know that she reached safely and is enjoying the company.

Julien arrived on 22nd of April and will be now with us for a whole year..Yay!!

Today on April 25th all of us L’aura, Myself, Julien, Yirumalai, Morga, Saundri, Ichima, and Ruba went to Matri Mandir and to Ganesh Bakery afterwards kinda like pre celebration to our Taj trip two of the missing one’s were Jason, and Sasha.

It was long overdue.. the trip to Matri Mandir and it was a joy to see all of them laughing and celebrating together.. :)

That’s all for now…

Hugs to all.

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gratitude for cyclone support

from: L’aura Joy via
date: Mon, Apr 23, 2012 at 12:58 AM
subject: CNVC: gratitude for cyclone support (India)

Dear Community,

Although delayed, I want to express my deepest gratitude to those of you who supported me and my NVC space in India after cylone Thane hit on Dec 29/11. I feel relieved that this email is emerging now, as I was caught up in my own overwhelm, burn out and depression during and after the cyclone,
I had a hard time typing and sending these words…

Although I feel a little awkward sending this to the whole list (generating more mail in your inboxes than necessary), I want to be able to acknowledge all of you who supported me, financially and with love. I received financial donations in cash and via paypal, which I can track, but the donations via bank transfer were all without name or country. So I’m hoping those of you who sent money this way will also have a chance to read this…

For transparency, I received about €1500 in total. Because of a confusion with paypal (my account is now blocked, as they didn’t see the donations as donations, but rather as unregistered business transactions!), I haven’t spent the money yet (except for Liv and Kay’s on-the-spot donation which went straight to buying a new back-up battery system, so that we could have an energy supply.) In the meantime, I took out a €2900 loan to re-thatch all of our roofs. I have a Board meeting this week, and I trust we’ll come to a final decision about where the money will go, and I imagine most people will vote to repay the loan. We also have a large meeting hall that was built during our 2008-09 Camp that needs a full new roof, but I don’t see this as an absolute priority right now.

If anyone would enjoy to know or read more than this, please let me know and I’d be happy to share on a deeper level…

with love and gratitude,

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What does NVC mean to you…?

Workshop participants’ brainstorming responses to “What does NVC mean to you…?”

– deeper understanding and connection before the trigger even arises
– is it too mental, analyzed?
– self-behaviour has to change first
– provides ability to embrace other people’s judgements and not take personally
– listen and understand self and others
– balance
– not about communication
– I stop reacting (vicious circle)
– clear, simple way to be present, not judge, feel myself
– treating my child with respect, as a human being
– spiritual practice: practical practice to live a higher consciousness
– presence, so that I can identify my feelings and not project them on others
– vulnerability
– integrating into my everyday environment
– embracing what is
– breathing before talking
– true intentions, transparency, authenticity
– patience with myself
– putting (e)motions in positive change
– being aware (getting rid) of labels
– mindful communication
– letting go of judgements

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Hello all My name is Meenakshi and I will try to keep this blog updated with stuff.. so you all know that we are still alive and happening.

I am a volunteer at Joy Guest House and I came to Joy for the first time in end of November 2011 Nahid was still there taking care of the guest house back then.. She was still here when i returned back with my family in February. I was charmed by her beauty as well and taken for a ride by her she stole money from my locker as well but i did not know it back then. So In Feb when this happened again and with several guest all in the joy community figured out it was an inside job and later they proved it. Nahid kept on denying the fact and kept on lying. After they discovered who it was they asked her to leave av and not be back here. She left for some time but now she is back again.. in Pondy .

Regardless to say L’aura and rest of the community had real rough time since the cyclone and since this episode with Nahid.

However for the past few weeks things have started to look up again, we had our first weekend workshop in many months and with the contributions we collected 7000 Rs. which are going to go towards our upcoming Taj Trip for the workers (In May we are taking our worker’s to Taj Mahal).

We will soon have our best chef from France back Julian joins us for a whole year and he is arriving on 21st.

Also we have a little Raksal (Rascal) running around in the community now singing and doing all sort of mischief making it real live place to be living in.. and if you have had fun reading this blog stay tuned for the next one.. because I am gonna take the challenge L’aura has given me and keep you posted. Till next time take care of your inner self and of all those who depend on you.. hugs. M

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