Oct 202016

“Ahimsa” (nonviolence) is the state of “having no enemy in our heart”.  I used to think “I don’t have enemies, this is not for me!”.   Most of us probably walk our lives without a real sense of having enemies.

And yet, – oftentimes* – behind each frustration, disappointment, hurt, we hold a story of what this person did “wrong” (or worse, what “I did wrong”) that is subtly , or not so subtly, playing its power of disconnect between us and this person/people.

For this post, I want to focus on these relationships with people we actually long to connect with, especially maybe long-time partners, or that special family member, or maybe even that child of ours. On these relationships where we retreat, withdraw, start not sharing what’s truly on our hearts, or where we experience continued frustration and anger, maybe a deep desire to see a change in that person’s behavior. These relationships where we can feel some disconnect.

What’s been interesting to me in my learning and practicing Nonviolent Communication over the years, is the truth process of hearing my own thoughts and distinguishing them from reality.

enemy-image-chess-pieceWhat I feel is real. But what I think is often not true.

What is most interesting in deciphering our thoughts and our stories, often about who’s right and wrong, is this second layer of “who’s fault is it?”.  Who is responsible for the pain, frustration, disappointment that we feel?  And have you experienced true lasting feelings of inner peace even when you “know” where the fault lies and who’s to blame for it?

I haven’t. We can sometimes experience temporary relief but I actually have come to experience now that this passation of fault, even when it feels really “right”, doesn’t offer the actual relief and healing/freedom from that situation or that person (even, and maybe more so with people we may have cut ties with).

This is what Marshall Rosenberg used to call “the Blame Game” in which there is winner.  It’s a lose-lose situation.

So how do we come back to a sense of inner peace and, from there, desire to relate to someone we either tell ourselves are ‘wrong’ or who we blame for our hurt?

Well, many practices can lead to this, but one of them is what Francois Beausoleil brings to DC in a two-day retreat on his Living Blame Free process and a specific focus on “Breaking Through High-Level Intensity Enemy Images”.

We will walk a discovery path of what are some of the meanings, labels and covers we apply onto someone else’s behaviors, words and actions – and ours. It will be the process of untangling the knots that cut our connections, dissipate the fog that keeps us far away, clear the lenses that we have created over our own eyes (and thanks to a what often feels a gazillion “proofs”!), and help us clear up the space between us.

The huge benefits of this clearing is, as Francois say, more than the Sum of the Two of Us.  Not only does it offer the clarity of what is truly being felt and needed for You and for this person alike. It offers actually the unique chance to come to synergy and develop a  brand-new and stronger way of relating that actually offers the chance to increase the well-being for the two of you.

Let’s go recover the actual joy of relating as the first day you met this person. Thriving together is possible.

This is the ‘Coeu’rageous journey I invite you to join us in taking.

Mali Parke
PS: *I write “oftentimes” because I want to note that there is more than just the stories we tell ourselves that play a role in why we would want to get closer or further away from someone. I am focusing here on the relationships that we actually engage in on a regular basis, the ones we want to heal or improve, and those where we will assume there is no true sense of danger. If you find yourself in a real sense of non-safety, please contact your support people for you to address what boundaries you need to put into place to help your system breathe and feel hopeful again.



Join us in DC Nov 5-6 for a two-day retreat! Space is limited to 15.

Early Bird ends Friday Oct 21.

Partial scholarships available. Discounts for 2 or 3 people signing up together. Do not let money be an obstacle.

Contact Mali with any questions.
Register Here


Jan 252016

Couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to attend the Blame Free State Intensive that Francois Beausoleil, a CNVC-Certified trainer I invited to come to DC. As I reflect back on all that I explored that weekend, I am grateful to have taken this time and got the support offered to keep digging in areas in my life where I hold Blame – whether onto myself, someone else or situations (or “Life”).

The retreat invited us to find where we had any ‘enemy images’ and work with the empathic support of a buddy to explore all that we want, all that it would do for us, what are the feelings and needs present both for ourselves and others and uncover what stops us from letting go of the Blame as well as powerfully rewrite the story.

I have shifted so much blame in my last few years, liberating myself from a weight and source of drain on my own energy. And yet this is a constant journey…

As situations arise and as relationships form, stretch or end at times, our mechanisms are strong to ‘protect’ and surround ourselves behind the walls of Blame, keeping ourselves ‘safe’ and attempting not to hurt in the face of the struggle.

Some cost of it is that we either numb ourselves to the hurt that is present (in ourselves or others), disconnect from others (or life energy), keep parts of ourselves small inside or even invisible. And it’s so draining… isn’t it?

In the years since I have learned about Nonviolent Communication, I now see the practice of shifting blame as a regular ‘relationship hygiene’ routine – as well as deep self-care and “patching the colander holes’ and ‘filling my cup’ strategy.

Do you relate?  If you are finding yourself ready for unloading or unblocking some Blame in your life, I invite you to “dare greatly” – as author and Blame Researcher Brené Brown says it – and get yourself the support and empathic holding of another to gently explore these protective layers and uncover the gems of that you are holding inside as well as what you are holding precious that stops you from letting go of the Blame. There is a way to hold both sets of needs equally valued within ourselves and our relationships.  We just sometimes need a little gentle care to go there.

Watch Brené’s talk on Blame through this animated video:

And I am delighted that Francois is planning to come back and offer his Blame Free State Intensive again Oct 6-8, 2016 as well as three other deepening days on Breaking Through Intense Enemy Images and private sessions with him. Registration will be posted and open soon.

And I’m always a phone call or visit away to give you my empathic presence and empowering coaching support as I have learned to receive it myself from so many supportive people in my life.

Mali Parke
Book a Call or Coaching Session Now!



Apr 012015

Are you feeling deep energies shifting within you these days?

Do you sense new potential, new dreams re-energized, maybe some discomfort with projects or relationships that are not where you want them to be?

Do you have connections you are wishing greater ease or stronger agreements with and are resolved to put your attention to?

Spring has a way of reminding us of our own cyclic rhythm of death (letting go) and rebirth (creation) that we go through over and over in life.  

In Spring, it’s often the time to clean up our gardens from the leftover dead leaves that protected the soil, seeds, bulbs under their protective layers. It’s a time to open our windows wide and let that first soft breeze come and purify, detoxify our indoor spaces.  It’s a time we often do deep window cleaning too, let that glass be as clear as it can to give us the view on the outside world.

Can we follow this analogy in our own internal reality?

It’s a perfect time for questions such as “What can be composted from the learnings and experiences of my Winter? What can be let go of, transitioned, digested?” or What is here that needs my attention, dedication, voice to regain deeper clarity, spaciousness, energy?”

  • Write down a checklist of “what is it that I most long for? … What are some goals that have been dormant for a while?” Run over an overview of your contribution to life (work, purpose, volunteering .. what are the goals that you have to make ‘life more wonderful?”) , relationships (family, loved ones, friends, colleagues, ‘community’ … ), self-care (mind, heart, body .. how do you value and honor yourself?), re-creation (“how do I support my sense of aliveness, spirit, inspiration, creativity?”)


  • What are some of my deeper needs and values that I want to live more of this Spring?” Make a list of 3-5 “top” ones that you can’t live without.


  • Envision all that you would need to live them. It looks like the “what, when, where, how, with whom, etc..”. Check out what you need to bring within yourself, and what you need to request of another. Frame it in a positive language (envision what you want, not what you don’t want)


  • Start naming the smallest request you can make of yourself – or to another – that you can do this week. Something that you know the probability to say ‘no’ to is sufficient small that you predict is to be do-able, easy.


  • Any obstacle or hurdle on the horizon? Check what value of YOURS you are actually holding dear and would lose if you were not to do or say what this obstacle/hurdle is bringing you.  Tricky question. Call me if you stumble here.  Check that value/needs and see, if anything, what is really holding you today in it, what needs to be put under a shining light, what needs extra support or care to grow and transition to also hold these other goals and vision that you have for yourself.


  • If you got this far, check back in within: “Knowing both what I value/honor (even by default) in what is my obstacle (old habit or ‘what’s in the way’), and what I value in how I want to show up in life, what is my truth now in what needs to be done or said (to myself or to another)?”.

I hope this practice is supporting your inner Spring cleaning and brings you new spaciousness to see what new buds will grow this year!

300268_10152671486850431_1712138693_nIf you are seeking further clarity, understanding, hope, and movement forward with all that is stirring in you, contact me for a solo Pay-What-You-Can 30-Min coaching session (new clients) and bring the new buddings of your Life into full bloom! 

In joyful service,
Mali Parke, CPC
More about Coaching Here

Jan 152015

Robert GonzalesI remember vividly my first encounter in 2011 with Robert Gonzales, a certified trainer with the Center from Nonviolent Communication, when – within the first morning of a three-day retreat – he uttered:

“Living from a protected heart is an undoable contract with ourselves” (… or so I remember it)

At the time, I was going through the hugely dizzying roller coaster and unraveling of a relationship that I was considering more than “difficult” or even (warning: label ahead…) “abusive.” No relationship counseling or even the communication skills I was learning at the time were helpful to bridge the widening gap that was in front of us.

My new skills of finding out more clearly about my needs and holding them dear (something I wasn’t used to doing consciously then) actually fueled more of the fire and anger of this untenable disequilibrium in our relationship. (This could be the subject of a whole new series of posts – and is so dear to my heart when I now have the honor of teaching these same skills to new people and women in particular).

I truly thought I needed to “protect” myself – and was even judging myself to be “too weak” or “soft” and telling myself that I needed to build my protective walls up even more.

So you can imagine how I found Robert’s invitation to live from an undefended heart quite not in touch with my “reality”!

Over the following three days of the retreat, I listened and got to witness him over and over in deep supportive empathic listening and connection with people just like you and me who opened their hearts so deeply, vulnerably, and courageously to him.  I slowly began to recognize, feel, and more profoundly, befriend this armor of protection that my inner “guard” had built around my heart.

I was able to become more conscious and aware of its presence, of its vigilance, and – beyond my initial self-judgment that it shouldn’t be there – to just start by paying it a visit, be in companionship with it – as uncomfortable as it could be.

Slowly, slowly, I got to be curious about all that it was holding dear and precious, that it was “protecting,” so I could support it, with gratitude, in letting go of the grip and firm hold it had on my heart and uncover what is true, beautiful, and also vital to my aliveness. I discovered brand new and “core” needs in me such as “curiosity” (toward me, you, life), “trust” (in myself mainly, in our innocence, in our pure essence as human beings as we were gifted at birth), and a deeper realization that someone else’s needs were never really in competition with mine.

Living from a protected heart was keeping me more in a “survival” mode than a “living” one.  

It was keeping me in a win-lose dynamic that continued the cycle of pain and hurt, just as having one’s needs met over another person’s never quite brings the peace or joy or satisfaction one is looking for.

Today, although my guard is still here, and sometimes wakes up in sensing “danger,” we have this continuously growing friendship that allows me to engage with it, thank it again, and let it know that I’m OK, that I take into great care and consideration all that it’s wanting me to know and to hold at all costs, and that I can handle it from there. My heart remembers now what it feels like to trust and feel safe from within.

From that place, I can now experience with greater ease curiosity towards what is precious in someone else’s heart and hold “our needs” altogether and respond from a place of open -, sometimes broken-open-, hearted essence.

I’ll be transparent: It’s not easy to hold it all every day, and as I often say, “Life is a journey, not a destination…”. But today I have greater trust in my capacity to come back to an undefended and open heart and act from a place of deep compassion – and fierce love – toward myself and “the other.”

So what happened to this relationship?

Based on what continued to unfold in actions and words that really did not work for me, and with my new ability to hold my needs for safety and trust as my responsibility to honor (because expecting it from another just wasn’t happening and wasn’t effective on top of giving my own power away), I did choose separation and ended our relationship agreement as it was.

What was – and still is – different for me, though, from the years of anguish and despair in trying to salvage what we had, was the strong and peaceful love that I felt toward myself – and toward this person even – and the understanding that this would be the best solution to honor each other in the future.

Today, I don’t hold anger or resentment toward this person – or myself – for the end of our relating. I even experience greater compassion and love for us all who are trying to live life to the fullest, seeking happiness – or relief from pain – in places that will not fully satisfy us. I recognize that everyone is on their “perfectly imperfect” journey, myself included. Above all, I hold my needs for safety and deep trust as core pillars in my relating to anyone more than ever before.

So, from my heart to yours, if you find yourself in a place of “needing protection,”* I offer the following practices to support your holding of safety and trust (and maybe some other unmet core needs of yours):

  1. Journal or listen with greater curiosity to your thoughts about needing protection “from”. Uncover what stories you may hold about yourself, the other person, or life in general.
  2. Pay an internal visit to your sensations. How are you feeling? Where is that feeling lived in your body?  This part may be the most uncomfortable one, but I found it crucial in increasing awareness of how often I may feel the tightening or fear living in my body.
  3. Get support or learn several somatic ways to relax your nervous system. I was once asked, “What did you enjoy as a baby to be soothed?” A simple rubbing of your wrists on each other, a tapping of key meridian points with techniques like Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), muscle-testing, or even a simple weekly massage can help your body remember what it truly feels like to “be safe”.
  4. Consciously focus on the needs that are crucially missing for you. Bring up a memory of what it feels to “be safe” or again bring up the thought/memory of a friend or anyone in your life with whom you have experienced deep trust. Stay in this memory. “Take a bath init.” Track how it feels in your body. It helps your body to remember what this memory feels like, so it can access it faster and faster each time.
  5. When you feel this relaxation and feeling of deep safety and trust, from this place of open-heart, think about: What do you need to ask of yourself, or of another, to experience more safety or trust in your life right now?


Need more clarity or practice? You’re in for a treat! Robert Gonzales is coming near DC, visiting Philadelphia Feb 13-16**. Early bird discount is available until Feb 1st. I hope you will consider treating yourself to this gift that keeps on giving.


If you are longing for more companionship on this journey to reclaim your sense of undefended self, I offer deep empathic and restorative one-on-one or partners coaching sessions using the models and practices taught by Robert Gonzales and many other teachers. Also see the upcoming “Reclaiming Ourselves” Women’s Program, which will launch in March, in Washington DC.

*If you are in a relationship under which you are feeling in any way afraid for your physical, mental, or emotional safety and more, do call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE(7233) or go to your nearest Domestic Violence Center. 

** This event is offered by Heart To Heart, a Philly organization focused on providing transformative education in jails, prisons, and communities. I invite you to find out more about them and how to support their mission.