Empathy Circles – What’s Alive For You in This Moment?

Empathy Circles follow the principles of deep listening and nonviolent communication (NVC) to connect in a meaningful way and share what’s alive in the moment of meeting.  The basic foundation is empathic or deep listening. Authors of the program, Ongo: Everyday Nonviolence, Catherine Cadden and Jesse Chu, write, ‘Empathy has five components… curiosity, mindful presence, intention to connect, focus on universal needs and confirmation.  There is more information below about Deep Listening. Click here for a free booklet: A Guide to the Empathy Circle.  There is no need to have done the Ongo program or any NVC training although an understanding and willingness to follow the guidelines offered will ensure everyone’s sense of safety and trust is upheld. At this time, Wendy is not facilitating Empathy Circles online. 

Read More About the Deep Listening Process

More information about the Empathy Circle, Deep Listening and Nonviolent Communication – NVC.

Speaking, deep listening, holding space and offering your presence.

When it’s your turn to speak, take a breath or two and just let yourself relax into what wants to be voiced in this moment.  What’s Alive For You? Speak from your heart. Talk from your experience of any situation rather than about others. You might want to ask yourself, what’s alive for me in this moment when I think of that situation?  Where do I feel this in my body? What am I telling myself about this situation, these people?

When it’s your turn to listen – listen with curiosity and in silence, cultivate mindful presence, and hold a sense of our shared humanity and universal needs and foster an intention to connect with the person speaking. If sadness, fear or joy arises for you; or you notice your mind wander to what you will say or other thoughts about what is being said – simply notice and bring your attention back to the person speaking. Refrain from asking questions, analysing,  fixing, advising, interpreting, commiserating, changing the topic or any other impulse that might stop the flow for the person speaking or push the person to go ‘deeper’ or further the process. If you feel uncomfortable feel the support of the earth beneath you. Take a breath or two. Ask for help from the group guide if needed.

As the speaker, you will be offered a few options of how you would like confirmation of what has been spoken. These options will be explained by the group guide at the beginning of the session. By choosing one of these requests, you can ensure you feel heard and seen in the way you would most appreciate and feel safe with.

For more information you can download A Guide to the Empathy Circle by Wendy Haynes. Freely offered.


Brief overview of NVC

Bigger picture of NVC

More NVC resources at the bottom of the page.

ONGO: Everyday Nonviolence (12 week program written by Catherine Cadden and Jesse Wiens Chu)

Nonviolent Communication, Mindfulness, Somatic Practices, Indigenous Wisdom and more…

Life is precious and yet, at times, the way we talk to ourselves or others, especially those close to us, can leave stir feelings of disappointment, frustration and disconnection. How can you have the  difficult conversations without the drama? How can everyone get their needs understood and met? What does it take to get off the ’roundabout’ of destructive patterns?

Using nonviolent communication, mindfulness, somatic practices and teachings from indigenous practices, Ongo, helps you to find peace, wisdom and compassion in everyday situations. It’s time for us ‘to be the change we want to see’ and it starts in those personal intimate relationships – with the way we talk to ourselves and others. It’s about doing the work at home, with loved ones, with those you most care about.

Do you want to:

  • relate to others in a more collaborative way that brings connection even when you feel stimulated?
  • be able to listen and speak more effectively and with kindness for oneself and others?
  • know what’s most important in your life and be able to live by those values?
  • live with an authentic quality of presence even when things get tough?
  • foster a greater capacity to meet the challenges and resolve emotional and rational conflict?
  • make some wonderful friends?

Time for a change

Ongo will support you to increase your capacity to make choices in the moment.

Firstly, you will learn specific mindfulness practices to bring a deeper quality of presence to the moment.

Secondly, you learn a safe, foundational practice of empathy for yourself and others.  Because, even though you may created some ‘space’ you may still ‘take the bait’ and before you know it, you can be sliding down the slippery slope of a pattern of a painful interaction.

When this happens, you may have no clear map of how to break free from your familial storylines, social conditioning and other internal and external factors. Furthermore, this can stimulate you into patterns of disconnection, frustration, anger – stirring feelings of wanting to be right, of superiority or feeling you are wrong and totally inadequate. Past trauma’s can resurface that may lead you to behaviours that you feel stuck in. How to stop the cycle and be free?

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. 

I’ll meet you there.  


This program will help you to know how to connect with yourself, others, set boundaries, make requests and so much more. You are most welcome to join our online group to practice this kind of everyday nonviolent communication

Ongo: Everyday Nonviolence

We are a group of ordinary people wanting to develop our ability to be nonviolence because we care about our own wellbeing, the people around us and the wider community. We will be learning practices like mindfulness meditation, Nonviolent Communication (NVC), gratitude, forgiveness, and more.

This work is grounded in secular practices and embraces people from all walks of life and beliefs. We will meet once a week, for twelve weeks, to study and practice. The program is based upon the guidance offered in The Ongo Book: Everyday Nonviolence, which contains a comprehensive course of training.

You can find mindfulness practices here.   To register your interest in the next Ongo online program please email wendy@wendyhaynes.com

Feelings Chart

Universal Needs

NVC Needs Chart


Click here to download A Guide to the Empathy Circle which has the feelings and needs chart included on a white background for printing.

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