Praise for Spinning Threads of Radical Aliveness
“Through this volume Miki Kashtan has yielded an inspirational bequest: a moving account of a life’s journey that is simultaneously personal, spiritual, moral, and political. It is remarkable for its depth of revelation, its intelligence, and its honesty. She moves freely from her own intense life experiences to a creative synthesis of insights and practices of Marx, Freud, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King. She makes salient the human needs and emotional dimensions in life and tempers the adoration of the rational throughout human history. She offers principles of thought, feeling, and practice that are simultaneously cosmic and down-to-earth. Readers with spiritual and moral sensitivity will resonate with Kashtan’s compelling life accounts and the therapeutic and social lessons she has woven from them; those with less spiritual and moral sensitivity will gain in them in the reading. Thanks to her for this brave endeavor.”
— Neil J. Smelser, Professor Emeritus, Sociology, UC Berkeley
“Miki Kashtan has written a wonderful book that invites us to change the way we change the world. Spinning Threads of Radical Aliveness is an invitation to put the honoring and meeting of individual and collective human needs at the center of our understanding of life. The brilliance of her mind and the warmth and courage of her heart shine through on every page. It is obvious that she has thought deeply about the issues of human separation and connection for a very long time, and that she has bravely committed herself in thought, word and deed to the overwhelming task of healing separation within the human family and creating a world that works for everyone. I especially enjoyed the way she presents her critical appreciation of the work of Freud and Marx and then asks the questions that they failed to ask, and offers new, inspiring answers to the important questions that they did ask and got wrong. This is a work of profound social theory, with exactly the visionary breadth that we need to help lead humanity from our current path of collective self-defeat, into a future of breath-taking possibility. It is also a most unusual kind of “self-help” book. It demands a great deal more of the reader in terms of inviting new ways of thinking about ourselves, our problems and our possibilities, while at the same time being practical and accessible in its presentation of ways to apply the principles and practices of NVC as a viable means to both personal and social transformation.”
— Victor Lee Lewis, MA, founder/director of the Radical Resilience Institute.
“More than a personal memoir, this book describes one woman’s countercultural journey of self-awareness and interpersonal empowerment. It is replete with gems of insight about her inner process, which she describes with the express intention of helping others toward greater freedom, honesty, and openheartedness. Miki Kashtan presents an urgent challenge to connect personal growth with social justice.”
— Deborah van Deusen Hunsinger, Princeton Theological Seminary
“Miki Kashtan’s work is prophetic, passionate, precisely argued, and original. She is an authentic voice with a great deal to contribute to our urgent contemporary discussion on how to change our world. Read her.”
— Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope: a Guide to Sacred Activism
“When I finished the book, I immediately started reading the book again. It touches me to realize how we long to love and be loved. The book gives me hope for a future in which more needs of more people can be met more often, hope for a society in which there will be less violence and more love. It awakened enthusiasm and power in me to contribute, to explore what is possible with dialogue. I experience the book as deep and powerful with a great potential to transform lives. I appreciate the gift that Miki Kashtan brings into the world with this unique book.”
— Lennie Stappers, a young woman in the Netherlands, confined to bed by chronic illness, who finds NVC both fascinating and highly effective in organizing her care on a budget from the Dutch government and communicating with some 30 people who give her support.
“My work is to support people and organisations who work with communities and people in poverty. Miki’s work, writings and vision are a deep source of inspiration. I am particularly indebted to her understanding of collaborative leadership, power and nonviolence. The depth of her humanity will inspire you too as well as her ability to bridge her vision for a collaborative, nonviolent society with radical choices we can all make in our personal and professional lives.”
— Vérène Nicolas facilitates individual and organizational renewal in Scotland, Papua (indonesia) and South Africa.
“As much as I believe in large, systemic change, I recognize the depth of work necessary to liberate each of us from internalizing the dominant paradigm even as we aim to change it. Because of Miki’s work — summed up in this book — I have transformed aspects of my life and work so that I no longer avoid difficult conversations but have begun to embrace them as growth trying to emerge. I want everyone I know to read this book, not only to find a new path to personal freedom, but also to be inspired to step courageously and powerfully into the role of change agent.”
— Cindy Mercer, Co-Founder Planet Heritage Foundation
“Reading “Spinning Threads” provokes, and challenges me to deeply examine my stories I hold about the world — what it means to be a human living and sharing this world with everyone. After the examination, Miki offers clear, practical guide on how to move forward. Brilliant, heartful, personal, inspirational!”
— Kanya Likanasudh, compassionate communication trainer in Thailand
“Miki continues to teach us to honor our emotions and the universal human needs from which they arise as goal, process, and practice—thus aligning with our inner truth and helping us to live a life of inner freedom and service. As a clinical social worker, I agree with her that going to the ‘edge of emotional discomfort’ is the territory that we must consciously traverse in order to change, and that the ‘magic of empathy’ in community can help. Miki uses extraordinary self-disclosure to point out the signposts and boundaries of this ever-changing landscape, as well as to model for us what a life of core commitments and practices can look like.”
— Marlene Carlos Laurendeau, LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker), Maine, USA
“For me, Miki Kashtan is a hero in the journey of cultivating the depths of our human potential for love and peace. There are few people I’ve encountered whose hunger for understanding and commitment to love are so deliciously intertwined as in her. I have more hope for the future of our species and planet now that her clear vision, tenacious curiosity, and heart-felt investigation into the nature of humanity have been laid into these pages.
In my eyes, “Spinning Threads of Radical Aliveness” is about what we need to do in order to pass a more peaceful world on to our grandchildren’s children. It’s about what it would take to live a life that honors the full extent of possibility that lives inside us. It’s about the uncompromising reclamation of our own radical aliveness.
In the face of hundreds or thousands of years of cultural programming that human nature is to be mistrusted and guarded against, Miki offers a radical vision; that the path towards peace requires us to stretch, not in opposition to our humanity, but ever more deeply into it.
Peace and blessings on your journey through this book. May it feed the fire of your heart as it has mine.”
— Talli Jackson, dancer, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company
“I wish I could take you on a tour of the highlights of this book, but there are too many. i hope you choose to take your own tour in this land of nonviolence, activism, living from the heart, visions of the future and hard-headed action and choice, so you can help yourself and all of us to live there.”
— Ray Taylor, UK nonviolence trainer, works on Nonviolent Communication in the Middle East, Europe and Asia
“Miki Kashtan is one of our most precious teachers, with a message sorely needed for healing, survival, and deeply meaningful living. Reading her new book Spinning Threads of Radical Aliveness, I felt warmly and passionately invited into a totally new way of seeing myself and what life could be. Her gift is a rare gem of possibility.
From compelling theory to profound caring to life-opening daily practices, Miki takes us on a journey of meaning and personal wholeness that ends up being visionary despite – or perhaps because of – its humble beginnings in her own experience made extraordinary by how she deals with it. She insists that this mindful, empathic mode of life is one we can all live into, individually and together.
Miki leads us into a level of consciousness and integrity about ourselves and our relationships based on a gentle but fierce insistence on the right and possibility of everyone meeting their true needs in a context where everyone else’s true needs are also being met. She shares rigorously heartful practices through which we can grow from exactly where we are to however far we are inspired to go along the remarkable path she describes.
Miki Kashtan is one of those cherished writers who seem to deeply know us while being totally honest and open about themselves. Reading her is like having a conversation with a very, very wise friend who so thoroughly believes in us that we can’t help but begin to believe in ourselves along with her. The awesome thing we begin to realize is that if we all believed in ourselves and each other with as much empathy and depth as Miki Kashtan does, our world would start healing and transforming itself in short order.”
— Tom Attlee, founder, The Co-Intelligence Institute, author, The Tao of Democracy.
“Miki Kashtan’s analyses of people and society have had a large impact on the way I view the world. Through stories of her own and others’ lives, she gave me the notion that I was taking a journey with her to discover the causes of separation within and between individuals. This book provides information that could lead to a more whole self and society, and I recommend it to anyone who desires to create change in the world.”
— Leo Proechel, student at Warren Wilson College, North Carolina.
“Kashtan describes with passion her radical vision of a world in which all persons and all needs truly matter. She combines wisdom based upon her lived experience and a deep understanding of history, social science and communication with an elegant and lean writing style as she explains why such a vision is not only achievable but essential. This is a book that inspires hope about what is possible and provides a set of tools and concrete ideas that individuals can use to make that possibility a reality. Read it – you will not be untouched.”
— Jane Marantz Connor, Associate Professor Emerita of Human Development, State University of New York at Binghamton
“A wonderful book suggesting that there is still something to do both individually and socially for a better world and explaining the steps to be taken in a clear way. It is full of sound, down-to-earth, and brilliant ideas and suggestions to make this world a better place to live. As a product of decades of experience and knowledge, this book is a huge source about the nonviolence both in ourselves and in the world. It questions and challenges the commonly accepted assumptions about human nature. It explains very well that everything starts with the change in ourselves. If you believe in and want to put into action Gandhi’s understanding about being the example of the change you want to see in this world, this book is a wonderful guide to start.”
— Mrs. Ozgur Gelbal, psychologist, Turkey
“This book challenges us to re-examine everything we have been conditioned to believe. It challenges us to dare to understand how the world works, how to transform ourselves and how we can play a part in shaping the world we want to live in. It gives us the blueprints to living a nonviolent life.”
— Eddie Zacapa, Domestic Violence Facilitator/Program Coordinator, The Center for Violence-Free Relationships, Placerville, CA
“Miki Kashtan’s Spinning the Threads of Radical Aliveness is a critical addition to the sewing kit of every person who longs to be part of reweaving our frayed social fabric. So many of us have managed to preserve some hope–however feeble–that another way of living is possible, that we can create a world that works much better for all living beings. Miki has not only preserved that hope; she has thought long and hard about how our social ties have come to be severed and what needs to happen to reverse the process. Now she has packaged all that insight into a book that is at once profoundly personal and sweeping in its scope. Grounded in a deep personal and intellectual understanding of how our social systems and institutions teach us to distrust not only each other but our own feelings and needs, this book lays out a simple (but not easy) set of practices for reconnecting to ourselves and each other and, ultimately, transforming those systems and institutions for those who come after us. This book demands courage and rewards it with passion, aliveness, and joy. It is crucial reading for love warriors.”
— Nichola Torbett, Director of Seminary of the Street
“Spinning Threads of Radical Aliveness is a refreshing and courageous invitation to create new pathways in our minds, hearts and belly brains using an age old strategy: PRACTICE!
It captures an exquisite unfolding of Miki Kastan’s life journey towards wholeness allowing the reader to step out of our ordinary socialized conditioning to embrace our true humanity.
Reading this book recharged my longing and commitment to practices that cultivate a meaningful, nonviolent and joyful existence.”
— Betty Burkes, Life-long educator and activist.
“In this provocative and visionary work, Miki Kashtan challenges the very foundations and assumptions we have inherited in our western society about the truth of human nature. This book is both radical and practical. You will gain a fresh understanding of human nature that is filled with faith in humanity and hope for the future. Highly recommended for those seeking pathways toward a livable future.”
— Sarah Proechel, midwife, co-founder of Midwife International
“Guided by a compass made from the beautiful Vision implicit in our humanity, Miki’s words trailblaze an empowering image of what the interdependent human spirit is capable of. As every master teacher does, Miki shows us both the principles and the practices so we can concretely apply the teachings directly to our lives and thus liberate the gift that we all are.”
— Thomas Meli, NVC trainer/ coach and CNVC candidate
“Miki Kashtan’s commitment to nonviolent social change is breathtaking in its scope and in its implications for the future of humanity. Spinning Threads of Radical Aliveness is both a brilliant distillation and an extension of her thinking on this theme. It offers fresh and incisive looks at the social structures and underlying paradigms of thought that have landed us in the full catastrophe of our current state in which human isolation, distrust and adversarial disengagement – with their consequent strategies of power seeking masking as self-protection – are, sadly, both the norm and the fuel of our interlocking personal and global crises.
Kashtan’s radical commitment to seeing the universal human struggle to meet needs as underlying even the most tragic and failed behavioral strategies is grounded in profound compassion and love. The breadth and depth of her analysis combines with the specificity of guidelines on we change ourselves to change the world, giving this work true transformative power.
Spinning Threads gives us a clear and comprehensible map to meeting every difficult human interaction or point of conflict, from the personal to the global in ways that can build genuine bonds of mutual recognition and care as well as open the way to creative solutions that work for all. Her revisioning of human nature as engaged in an essentially healthy quest for fulfillment is deeply life-affirming and potentially life-changing.
I challenge anyone to read Spinning Threads and not be filled with hope for the future of humanity and the planet.
The message is clear: if we understand the social structures and underlying constructs that are unconsciously driving modern life, and if we commit to a changed consciousness and changed practices – truly learning how to hold everyone’s needs with care, certainly including our own – we can change the future, individually and collectively. Potentially we can have a future that may not be possible any other way.
In the words of Emerson, “For a thousand men raking at the leaves of evil, only one is digging for the roots.” This book is not only digging and exposing the roots of evil, it is planting new roots for health.
As a Unitarian Universalist minister, my commitment to the quest for a world with peace, liberty and justice for all is deep. This is a book that nourishes my soul, renews my courage and restores my hope.”
— Rev. Cathleen Cox, M.A.T., M.Div., Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley
“In this book, Miki synthesizes years of work — on herself, with colleagues and with thousands of people around the world in learning settings. I celebrate that this book will serve as a powerful resource for the vital work of internal, interpersonal and social change.”
— Kit Miller, Director, MK Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence
“This book of inspiration from Miki will be a refuge for me. As a person committed to social change, yet who works mostly with individuals who have been traumatized, I will turn to Miki’s words again and again to remind me of, and inspire me with, the vision for which my heart yearns, of a world where everyone’s needs matter. It will help me remember, as Miki wrote, that in the context of systems that regularly and frequently go against human needs, “empathy becomes the moment of hope. Through empathy we can begin to cultivate, individually and collectively, the hope and belief that our needs can be met, hope that may well be a key foundation for creating change.”
— Shulamit Berlevtov, MA, CCC, CFP, RYT, Canadian counsellor, coach, yoga teacher, and CNVC-certified trainer living in rural Ontario.
“I had been longing for this book to be completed and when it arrived and I started reading it… I just kept on reading and reading. It’s actually the book I would have loved to read just before reading Rosenberg’s book ‘Nonviolent Communication’ because it made clear to me why I might want to choose to immerse myself in this other way of framing and acting in the world I live in. I particularly enjoyed the mixture of autobiography, “vision,” and concrete practices that support me in understanding my conditioned state and inspire me to navigate my future based on conscious choice rooted in my deepest values.
I particularly enjoyed the sections Going Against the Grain and the Core Commitments which added to my clarity about how to integrate nonviolent consciousness into the fabric of my life.
I am impatient to read the next volume so that I can deepen the learning I have acquired in the first book. In the meantime, I am re-reading the first volume. I am guessing that this is a book that I will read many times over. Thank you, Miki!”
— Elkie Deadman, corporate nonviolence trainer in the Netherlands; also supports nonviolence projects in Sierra Leone and India.
“Reading Miki’s story, I note common threads in my own childhood experience, feel outrage and grief for the societal powerlessness of children, and almost simultaneously, a revival of hope and possibility. This is because I trust the essential questions she asks and the answers she offers. I relax into the warmth of many places where an inclusive invitation is offered. I also love Miki’s certainty and “deep faith” that it is entirely possible for us to have a future that totally differs from the one so many of us are afraid of living. Hers is the bravest heart I have ever been so fortunate to encounter. This is a story I love.”
-- Merijane Block, Longtime member of the cancer community, former program manager, Breast Cancer Fund
“Our desperate times call for a radical re-imagining of the possible. This is exactly what Miki Kashtan’s important new book, Spinning the Threads of Radical Aliveness, delivers, along with practical applications about how to get there. Kashtan explains that although “…We have created a world based on separation, scarcity and powerlessness, which barely works for the few,” …it is NOT human nature which had brought us to this. “Most of us have a deep longing for a world that works for us all…” The challenge in creating this new world lies in the necessity for a transformation in our relationship to human needs. This is the essence of Kashtan’s bold vision and urgent message: that “all human needs are fundamentally life-affirming and common to all. There is no need of yours or mine, or of anyone else, for that matter, of which we need feel ashamed. It is only the strategies we pursue to fulfill our needs that can be harmful to others and ourselves, not the needs themselves.” Filled with deeply thoughtful analysis, vibrant, illustrative personal anecdote, and concrete, specific steps each of us can implement today, Spinning the Threads of Radical Aliveness shows us the way: a new world is possible and we can achieve it!”
— Bonnie Burstein, PhD, Training Director, Life Skills Central & Building Healthy Communities Initiative, Los Angeles Community College District
Available at Amazon on April 4, 2014