Earth-Rooted NVC Tree of Life

by Jaime L. Prieto, Jr.

· NVC,Wild Heart

This essay demonstrates how Nonviolent Communication (NVC) can be deepened through nature-based depth psychology of Wild Mind by extending the classic metaphor of the NVC Tree of Life by NVC Trainer Inbal Kashtan. The original NVC Tree of Life is a useful summary of the practice of NVC; I have removed the detailed instructions from the original in order to extend the concepts into new realms.

Originated by Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D., NVC is a way of focusing our attention to facilitate self-compassion, along with compassionate giving and receiving.

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  • Self-Empathy is an inner curiosity and acceptance of the thinking, judgments, an observation of what’s happening, identification of feelings and associated needs, and generating requests for oneself
  • Empathy is a respectful listening to the experience of another being, particularly focusing on identifying feelings and associated needs
  • Self-Expression starts with a willingness to reveal ones authentic inner experience compassionately to others, ending with a clear and doable request of the other

The NVC Tree of Life also represents a consciousness, a set of resources and skills that may be cultivated through training, study, conscious awakening and practice bringing to life those who practice it.

This essay introduces the “Earth-Rooted NVC Tree of Life”, which extends Kashtan’s tree by mirroring it underground to represent the unconscious — more succinctly predicted by the ancient refrain from Hermetic philosophy:

“As above, so below,

As within, so without,

As the universe, so the soul.”

— attributed to Hermes Trismegistus


Earth-Rooted NVC Tree of Life

Here are some new characteristics of the extended metaphor of Earth-Rooted NVC Tree of Life shown above:

  • The crown of the tree represents Personal Consciousness, whereas the canopy of the forest, along with the canopies of other forests, and the atmosphere that binds them represents Collective Consciousness.
  • The dotted “heart-line” through the middle of the tree goes through the heart center of the Earth-Rooted NVC Tree of Life. Above the line, the focus of attention is on others, whereas below the line the focus is internally on oneself.
  • On the left side of the trunk, just above the roots, there’s a point at which the tree comes out of the ground representing the unique place of the tree, a metaphor for the ecological niche that it is occupying — a place that Plotkin calls “Soul"
  • On the right side of the trunk, there’s an arrow originating on the heart-line pointing toward the unique place of the tree representing “Inscendence.” Another arrow originating at the same point on the heart-line, but pointing away from the unique place (orthogonally) toward the center of the canopy of the forest representing “Transcendence.”
  • The line that separates the earth from the sky represents Conscious Awareness above the line, and the Unconscious below the line. One might imagine Plotkin’s circular Wild Mind map of the four facets of the Self along this earth-sky line, the circle of wholeness delineated by the shadow cast by the tree at noon on the summer solstice. As wholeness is cultivated, the tree becomes healthier, and fuller of more branches, more leaves and the potential for more fruit.
  • The roots of the tree represent the Personal Unconscious, whereas the earth around it represents the Collective Unconscious out of which arise archetypes of the human experience.
  • There are three main roots representing the intention of NVC consciousness extending underground to support connecting conversations with unconscious elements (aka. fragments, parts or subpersonalities) as if they were different live versions of us through each of the three modes: Self-empathy, Empathy and Self-Expression -- to be demonstrated in future essays.


The NVC Tree of Life by Inbal Kashtan was extended into the Earth-Rooted NVC Tree of Life, which metaphorically brings the branches of psychology derived from Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, James Hillman and Bill Plotkin together with the humanistic psychology branch derived from Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers and Marshall Rosenberg, resulting in a more integrated whole, providing more options for healing, self-healing, wholeness, collaborative discovery, while facilitating a journey toward self-actualization, and for some a journey of soul initiation.

Future posts will detail examples of how it all comes together.


© 2024 Jaime L. Prieto, Jr.,, All Rights Reserved.