Article by Taylor A. Wolf
As NVC continues to develop from the beautiful seeds that Marshall Rosenberg planted, it has moved in a number of directions. The work of Miki Kashtan has taken the nonviolent consciousness of NVC directly into processes with systems and groups. Some practitioners meld Nonviolent Communication with approaches like focusing for deep self-connection and self-discovery. And the branch that Susan Skye and Sarah Peyton have spent years nurturing right here in Oregon, the integration of Nonviolent Communication with relational neuroscience, with a particular eye to addressing emotional trauma, has come to flower this month with the publication of Peyton's book, Your Resonant Self: Guided Meditations and Exercises to Engage Your Brain's Capacity for Healing. This book is the first published by a major publisher, W.W.Norton & Co., to have NVC as a major element, and the author hopes that it will bring many more people to the study of Nonviolent Communication.
Relational neuroscience is one of the newest branches of brain research, made possible by fMRI research that lets scientists look at the brains of people while they are thinking about each other. This research shows that warm understanding creates resilience, while neutrality shortens our lifespans, and contempt negatively impacts our immune systems and harms our neural connections. Much of the work that has been done in this area is so new that it is still buried in research papers. Peyton's book takes the latest research into how our brains affect one another and makes it clear, accessible and usable.
Speaking about the book, Sarah says:
"The way we use language with each other shows how much we value the relationship, how much we respect the other person, and how closely we are listening to each other. Our language will also reveal our contempt, our impatience, and how little energy we have for connection."
She adds, "The way we talk to ourselves has an effect, too. Just as contempt from others makes people get more colds and flus, and makes it harder to heal wounds, self-contempt tears away at our health and shortens our lives."
By integrating learning about our relational brains, meditations that listen to the body, and warm resonant language, Your Resonant Self guides readers through a process of developing a relationship with our resonating self-witness. NVC teacher and empathy coach Katherine Revoir describes this relationship, saying, "When my resonant self is online, I am organically empathic, which creates a container of attunement for my client, whose nervous system can relax because two of their most important needs are being met: feeling safe, and knowing that they matter. These needs are so important to our nervous system that our brain is scanning for them 40 times per second."
Revoir continues, "The entire field of relational neuroscience, with Your Resonant Self being a beautiful introduction to it all, shows us how to literally rewire our brain so that we experience more of what psychologists, attachment researchers, neuroscientists, and mindfulness teachers describe as qualities of a life well lived: empathy, adaptability, a sense of internal balance, the ability to see the whole picture, calmness, clear thinking, sound decision making, and regulated emotions, including taming our self-critical voice. This describes a regulated brain, and the information and meditations in Your Resonant Self helps us to get there."
Sharing about the book, certified NVC trainer Peggy Smith commented, "I have known for many years that NVC works. Sarah's work has given me the skills to share more than how NVC works; it helps me communicate why it works. The brain science is of great interest to many of my students, expanding the circle of people who embrace NVC."
Your Resonant Self carries the message of hope that our brains are neuroplastic; they can grow and change. And as we start to speak to ourselves with warm and understanding language, we help heal our brains and our immune systems and our sense of meaning. Your Resonant Self helps us heal our words, so we can begin to heal our lives.