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Wise Speech Retreat

  • Berkeley, CA - Sacred Streams 2149 Byron Street Berkeley, CA, 94702 United States (map)

Mindful Communication: A Wise Speech Retreat

Non-residential Retreat with Donald Rothberg and Oren Jay Sofer

• Reduce stress and interpersonal conflict
• Strengthen resilience and empathy
• Learn practical tools for effective dialogue

Integrating meditation practice with our speech and communication is one of the main ways to bring deeply-held values into our daily lives and actions in the world. In this retreat, we connect mindfulness and lovingkindness practice, the Buddha's teachings on Right Speech, relational awareness practices, and the contemporary discipline of Nonviolent Communication (NVC). Collectively, these practices form a powerful foundation for cultivating insight, awareness, and empathy; develop our capacity to listen and speak from the heart; and strengthen our ability to stay present and be more skillful in challenging situations.

This retreat will include periods of silent meditation and interactive speech practices. It is designed for those who want to bring more attention to speech as a spiritual practice, for those who have emphasized communication and want further grounding in meditation, and for those who are helping professionals.

This is a non-residential retreat, 9a-5p daily. Please read the disclaimer below before registering. NVC will be taught at a basic level; reading Oren Jay Sofer’s Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication or Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication before the retreat is strongly recommended.

CEs are available for therapists, psychologists, chaplains and certain other helping professions.

important information about this retreat

Please read this information before registering:

  • This is a meditation retreat with interactive components and training; it is NOT a workshop or conference.

  • The first day of the retreat will be spent primarily in silent meditation, with instructions and guidance.

  • Subsequent days will include up to 3.5 hours of silent meditation practice with instructions.

  • Buddhist teachings and practices will be offered during the retreat, though one need not identify as Buddhist or ascribe to any particular belief system to attend and participate.

  • Nonviolent Communication will be taught at a basic level. Those with prior NVC training may benefit from exploring the foundations from a new perspective.

Cost: $350 tuition + donation to teachers
Scholarships: Some scholarships available.
Read more about donations here.

We expect this retreat to fill. Please register early.

About the Teachers

Donald Rothberg, Ph.D., a member of the Teachers Council at Spirit Rock in California, has practiced Insight and Metta Meditation since 1976. He writes and teaches on on meditation, spirituality and psychology, transforming the judgmental mind, working with conflict, speech and communication, and socially engaged spirituality. He is the author of The Engaged Spiritual Life.

Oren Jay Sofer has practiced Buddhist meditation and Nonviolent Communication since 1997, and is a member of the Spirit Rock Teacher's Council. He holds a degree in Comparative Religion from Columbia University, is a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner for healing trauma, and Senior Program Developer at Mindful Schools. He is the author of Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication.

Continuing Education Information:

Health care professionals will be able to incorporate the practices and perspectives offered during this training when working with clients, patients and coworkers. Mindful Communication enhances the quality of relationships and improves the ease and efficiency of information flow in a clinical setting. The skills of this workshop are designed to: develop a supportive environment for patients and clients by strengthening empathy and emotional attunement; improve rapport and reduce clinical errors by refining the clarity of information expressed and received; and reduce interpersonal conflict, workplace stress and burnout with resiliency training.

This course offers Professional Credits for teachers and educators.

This course is also eligible for 25 Continuing Education (CE) credits for psychologists and California licensed MFTs, LCSWs, LEPs, LPCCs, nurses and chaplains. To qualify to receive the certificate of completion, participants must pay an additional fee and attend all six classes in full.

  • CE credits for psychologists are provided by the Spiritual Competency Resource Center (SCRC) which is co-sponsoring this program. The Spiritual Competency Resource Center is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Spiritual Competency Resource Center maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

  • The California Board of Behavioral Sciences accepts CE credits for LCSW, LPCC, LEP, and LMFT license renewal for programs offered by approved sponsors of CE by the American Psychological Association.

  • LCSWs, MFTs, and other mental health professionals from states other than California need to check with their state licensing board as to whether or not they accept programs offered by approved sponsors of CE by the American Psychological Association.

  • SCRC is approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN Provider CEP16887) for licensed nurses in California.

  • CE credit is awarded for instructional time only and does not include extended yoga sessions, extended silent sitting or walking meditation, meals, etc.

  • For questions about receiving your Certificate of Attendance, contact us. For questions about CE, visit or contact David Lukoff, PhD at

Learning Objectives:

At the end of the program, participants will be better able to…

  • List four ethical guidelines of Mindful Communication

  • Describe the three foundations of Mindful Communication and the four components of training attention.

  • List at least three ways of bringing presence to conversations

  • List at least two ways of cultivating inner mindfulness while listening and speaking

  • Demonstrate the clinical skill of pausing

  • Explain the differences between “needs” and “strategies,” and how awareness of human needs supports compassion

  • Describe the difference between empathic and non-empathic forms of communication

  • Demonstrate the ability to offer empathy by linking feelings with underlying needs

  • Explain the difference between observations and evaluations or interpretations

  • Demonstrate the ability to construct observations of behavior and action

  • Revise a judgmental statement in the form of an observation, feeling and need

  • Describe the difference between requests and demands

  • List at least two of one’s habitual ways of reacting to conflict

  • Describe at least two ways of modulating one’s nervous system activation during conflict

  • Describe techniques of developing lovingkindness

  • Apply the method of loving-kindness meditation as an antidote to distress

  • Assess accurately basic emotions from words that imply being judgmental or projecting blame

Earlier Event: August 9
Innate Strength & Wholeness
Later Event: September 19
Insight Meditation Retreat