Ongo Online Retreat: The Practice of Everyday Life

Ongo 2015

“Ongo has been really helpful for me … [I]t helped me to establish a regular practice of meditation … Ongo also really helped me with self connection leading to deeper insight about my needs and helping me with a greater presence with myself and others. I also find myself with a deeper feeling of gratitude and happiness.
– Ongo participant, December 2013

Today, many of us need an environment of peers, inspiration, and guidance to support the cultivation of wisdom and compassion in our lives at home, work, and in our communities. Practices like Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and Buddhist meditation can be challenging to integrate outside of the workshop or retreat setting. Everyday struggles, not to mention our concerns around big issues like climate change, social injustice, poverty, and more can easily overwhelm our best intentions for how we want to live.

The Ongo Online Retreat is a three month intensive that anyone can participate in using the phone and Web, to develop skillfulness, depth of compassion and awareness – in the midst of everyday life.  Ongo offers direct, personal guidance from experienced teachers and compassionate support from a global community of practitioners. Together, we will practice both on and off the meditation cushion.  There are no prerequisites to join this program, other than a desire to learn and practice these teachings in your daily life.

DEEPEN your self-awareness and presence through meditation, Mindfulness practice, and applying Buddhist teachings to everyday life situations

EXPAND your ability to respond compassionately and courageously to loved ones, not-so-loved ones, and “what-the-#%?!” ones, by using the skillful means of Nonviolent Communication

Cultivate SUPPORT from teachings and teachers who walk their talk, and companionship through a leader-full international community that shares your deep intention and commitment

Through phone, email, and Web, we bring the retreat to you:

  • Daily – Emails with specific practices and teachings for your day, including guided audio meditations and video examples.
  • Weekly – “Wisdom Hall” tele-gathering with Catherine, Jesse and the community for teachings, connection, and practice (To find out the weekly call times, see below)
  • Weekly – Call with a fellow community member for support and practice (scheduled individually).
  • Monthly – One-on-one private phone consultation for deepening learning with Catherine or Jesse (scheduled individually).
  • Anytime – Access to the Ongo online forum for discussion, support, and live chat with Catherine, Jesse, and the community.


The nature of a phone and online-based practice period is that it requires extra commitment on the part of the participants to give it the focus and depth found in an in-person intensive. To promote this focus and depth, we ask that anyone considering the Ongo Online Retreat make a general commitment to the weekly calls, the monthly consultation, and minimally, thirty minutes, three times a week, to read and reflect on the daily practice. We make this commitment with full acknowledgement that there will be times in which we may “fall short”, due to various life circumstances. Both the commitment to practice and the “falling short” are integral parts of the Ongo Online Retreat.  If you have any questions about this, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

“As I’ve shared with friends several times now, the Ongo has been the best way to learn NVC [Nonviolent Communication] that I’ve found. The wisdom of integrating the learning of new communication with the deep personal work that it requires really serves the transformation. And, the “daily life” format is so effective as real, honest, challenging practice. I will continue to share that nothing I’ve done so far, with regards to NVC, has been as powerful.”
– Ongo participant, June 2010


The weekly meeting with Catherine, Jesse, and the Ongo community will take place once a week, from September 3rd to November 19th, at 6:00 PM Sundays (U.S. Eastern Time/New York).  To see your local time equivalent for the first call, click here.  Note that, due to time changes across the globe, your local time equivalent may change during the 3 months of Ongo – if you are not on U.S. Eastern Time, we highly recommend that you use this tool online to check the times on each of the 12 call dates before signing up. All calls except the first and last call will be one-and-a-half hours long.  To give more time for opening and closing, the first and last calls will each be two hours long. 


“JOTO” JESSE WIENS lived and trained in Soto Zen monasteries for seven years. Among his many teachers, he was particularly influenced by Tenshin Reb Anderson, Soshin Teah Strozer, and Toni Packer. During that time, he also encountered the teachings of Nonviolent Communication (NVC), studying with founder Marshall Rosenberg and participating in trainer Robert Gonzales’ NVC LIFE (Living, Integrating, Fully Embodying) program for three years. In 2006, Jesse founded ZENVC as a vehicle for bringing the teachings of Zen and NVC together. Today, he continues to study these teachings by living them in his work and play as a Center for Nonviolent Communication Certified Trainer.

CATHERINE CADDEN has been an educator since 1987 finding alternatives to teaching, learning, and conflict resolution that work with the principles of nonviolence. Her journey led her to study with a number of renowned teachers, among them Jack Kornfield, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Sahn Nicole Hill, Ram Dass, Marshall Rosenberg, and Stephen and Ondrea Levine. In 1997, Catherine founded the TEMBA School, a visionary K – 8 academic program rooted in nonviolent philosophy, NVC, mindfulness, sustainable living, and artistic expression. In 2009, her educational philosophy and story of TEMBA, Peaceable Revolution Through Education, was published. As a Certified Trainer with the Center for Nonviolent Communication, Catherine brings over 15 years of experience practicing, living and teaching Nonviolent Communication (NVC) internationally to participants of all ages.

TOGETHER, Catherine and Jesse have worked on six continents with NGO’s, families, intentional communities, inmates, youth, Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Baha’i, Hare Krishnas, atheists, activists, Democrats and Republicans. They are coauthors of The Ongo Book: Everyday Nonviolence and hold an unwavering confidence that this work is universally beneficial.


A suggested contribution of $195/month for three months, covers the costs of the practice period, as well as offering support to the trainers and their work.  For those who’d like to sign up with a friend, family member, or coworker to strengthen and build your spiritual support community at home, the suggested contribution is $175/month each.  A reduced contribution of $525 is suggested for those who choose to make their contribution in full before the start of Ongo.