Back to All Events

Couples Weekend Workshop on Mindful Compassionate Dialogue starting September 6, 2019 (Portland, OR)

  • Dharma Rain Zen Center 8500 Northeast Siskiyou Street Portland, OR, 97220 United States (map)

Is this for you?

You love your partner and are committed. When things are going well, you really enjoy each other and have a great partnership in many ways. But when things get difficult, you sometimes get lost and don’t recognize yourself or the person you fell in love with.

You feel sad and frustrated seeing the disconnect between you, because you care so much for each other. Or, things are going well now and you would like to keep it that way.  You are ready to learn sound relationship principles and concrete skills for living these principles.

I can categorically say that our marriage is stronger after having taken your classes.
— Student (Portland, Oregon)

How it works:

There is nothing like intimate relationship to bring up every unresolved issue you have. While this can make being in relationship exceptionally challenging, it also offers a unique opportunity for healing and growth. This does not mean being each other's therapist, coach, or self-improvement director. It's about creating a safe and conscious space in which old stuff can be named for what it is, and you both can respond in a loving way.

You have likely already been working hard to create such a space. Maybe you've agreed to avoid certain topics and adopt a positive attitude hoping things will change. Maybe you have planned weekend get-aways to bring you together. Or perhaps you have sought out counseling or self-help books. What has been missing is a way to fully integrate basic principles of relationship and the associated skills. When principles and skills are integrated as a part of your natural way of being, you can access a new way of relating in the most difficult moments. Full integration means engaging compassionate awareness of your body, heart and mind as you learn. Mindfulness not only helps integrate your understanding in a lasting way, but also makes it easier to be the real you with your partner.

The basic principles we will focus on are not complex, but, for most, they require engagement at unfamiliar levels of honesty and vulnerability.  The first principle is that all human beings share the same basic universal needs and that everything we do and say is an attempt to meet or be in harmony with these needs.  

The second principle is that when we are conscious about the universal needs present for ourselves and others, we can communicate about them and thereby create shared honor and connection directly and efficiently.  

This brings us to the third principle, which is that when we establish a quality of connection in which there is mutual honor, a natural giving from the heart arises and we are able to find ways in which all needs can be met. In other words, a needs-based consciousness leads to flexible and creative strategies for meeting those needs.

These principles promote prioritizing attention on creating a quality of connection and trusting that equitable strategies to meet needs will arise from that connection.  This is the inverse of what most of us have learned. Most of us grew up with relationship modeling that implicitly gave messages like this:

  • If you prove your view is right, your needs will be valid.

  • If you gain more power, your needs will be met.

  • If you focus on problem solving and analysis, your needs will be met and you will feel connected.

  • If only you can figure out whose fault it is, you will feel better.

  • If you understand something intellectually, you won’t feel difficult feelings.

  • If the other person would just quit making you react, things would be better.

The exercises you will engage in with your partner will challenge all of these beliefs, this is the hard part...letting go of what you have relied on to try something new in a moment when it really matters.

What you will do:

In this workshop you will engage with your partner in a variety of experiential learning exercises. You will be guided in mindfulness to acquire a subtle and potent understanding of how your body and beliefs influence your ability to engage in relationship from the three principles listed above.

You will learn to express and sustain connection through practicing the skills of Mindful Compassionate Dialogue This includes listening with empathy, understanding your needs, making requests, catching reactivity before it takes over, and expressing appreciation.

You will work through specific issues for which you and your partner would like resolution.  At the end of each exercise there will be time for questions and debrief. You can share about your experience of the exercise with the whole group, but you won’t be asked to share any details of your relationship. I ask that you not share about your partner's experience or details without their expressed in the moment permission.

You will do a couple of warm-up or icebreaker exercises in the whole group to build group safety and comfort, but otherwise you will only work with your partner.

What you won’t have to do:

You won’t have to share about your relationship with other couples.  You won’t have to discuss private issues with me or with the group. You won't have to do any exercise that doesn't feel right for you.  We can always help you modify an exercise to better meet your needs.

What you will get:

You will get skills to name and interrupt reactivity before it takes over. This means catching things like blame, criticism, and anger and finding a way to get yourself grounded in the moment.

You will learn how to name what you need - being heard, respect, love, intimacy, harmony, honesty, etc. - and make clear requests of yourself and others to meet those needs.

You will understand how to listen to your partner in a way that they really feel heard.

You will awaken to an ability to stay connected to yourself and your partner in the most difficult of moments.

You will have practice working through dialogue and negotiating agreements.

You will have the opportunity to enjoy 14 acres of natural areas and gardens.

CANCELLATION POLICY:  to meet needs for inclusion, security, and predictability refunds are only given if requested 72 hours before the start of the course, so please discern carefully.


  • Trainer: LaShelle Lowe-Chardé

  • Assistants: Phyllis Brzozowska

  • Prerequisites: None

  • When: Sept. 6-8, 2019. Friday 6:30-9pm, Saturday 10-6, Sunday 10-3

  • Where: Dharma Rain Zen Center (Uji East)

    8500 NE Siskiyou St, Portland, OR, 97220

  • Cost: $495 per couple (Couples can opt to pay a $99 deposit to register, and pay the remaining balance on or before the first day of the workshop.)



Want to stay up to date with our offerings? Subscribe to our Connection Gem.