We finished our two day workshop on Living Courageously and Compassionately in Bangalore last Saturday and Sunday. I am grateful to have such opportunities as I enjoy sharing NVC and in the process deepen my learning exponentially when we all share our stories and we work on them together.
It was amazing to see how we could do amazing work using Gina and Birdget’s Dance Floor on transforming anger. We were doing an exercise where we were trying to see the humanity of some one who had done some thing which had hurt or pained us. Sumeet just shared how he was disturbed by some one who had once made a statement which he thought was racist…I tried to make him see the beautiful need behind what that person had said by asking Sumeet- “do you think the guy knows that he is racist” to which Sumeet responded that “he doesn’t know that he is a racist as he carefully puts some other veneer on it”, to that also my question was that “does he know that he puts the veneer” and he said that he hides it cleverly or some thing like that..i realized that it was difficult for sumeet to deeply see where the other person could be coming from. Sumeet said that I can understand him logically but its difficult for me to emapthise with him or deeply connect to his beautiful need. I asked him if he was disturbed or angry and he said ‘Yes’…so we decided to jump into the ‘Transforming Anger’ dance floor…he didnt have much time so I said I will walk with you as I also have some pain around the same issues.
So the story was that a friend of Sumeet, had made some statement, “Africans never invented any thing new and it was the European who did all the inventions, while Africans were just sitting on so much resources”. Sumeet saw this statement as not respecting to the African or Asian Cultures, so as we began sharing our judgments other people in the workshop also began to jump in the dance floor and shared their judgments and I was seeing that there was pain in the room about the colonial domination it as was a collective pain, as we moved on people expressed their anger or closed their eyes and got in touch with their sensations also and then moved to look at their unmet needs…as people fully emptied their judgments in that safe space, it was easier for them to connect to their unmet needs and which was about our dignity as a culture or a community or for our voices to be heard or that we matter and finally it came to accepting diversity of people and culture and then more than acceptance it was celebration of diversity and there were different ways of doing things in the world and they all contribute to the richness.
People moving during India Pakistan partition, displacement!
Once we had come to the unmet need we moved to the transformed feeling which was sadness rather than anger now and then Sumeet moved to make three requests, one was to work with his hands in the future in order to bring back the dignity to manual work, second was to move to the land based living and third was to have different atmosphere for his daughter for her learning, where she can be with community…where she has the opportunity to learn her own language too, it sounded to more like unshcooling. Even though he could not make very specific requests, he said that he will take some time to process all this and I saw that as a kind of request for the moment.
It was moving to see how anger of a collective consciousness moved from painful judgments to some thing beautiful that we can do. I am reminded to Miki Kashtan’s exercise on ‘moving away from whats wrong to what do we want to see happen in the this world’ and how that shifts our energy and makes things more tranfromative. Otherwise we can stay in our judgments move to pain and then back to judgments and keep moving on this tread mill ultimate burn out, in the process we can attack others and tire them also out and escalate the tensions and the pain. The transformative part was to see that judgments are from the unmet needs and more deeper they are and are not being able to flower greater is the pain and since we only know how to express our pain in judgments, they too become harsh and stronger. In this process we work through the judgments and don’t vilify them, its like allowing the toxins to come out but in a safe and caring atmosphere where we have empathy and we will not be judged for our judgments.
In the check out after the exercise we shared our experiences and some one felt sad that some people in Europe and North America may have not seen other cultures and different ways of living and their perspective is limited and you cant blame where they are. It was moving for me to hear and also made me see a vision of the world where we can meet and learn from each other. To help each other see the others more deeply and to connect with them with love and care.
I was also reminded of my childhood growing up in a neighborhood of people who have migrated as refugees from the now Pakistan part of Punjab, during the partition. It’s a place where RSS( a hind group claiming to fight for the rights of the Hindus) is very active and no wonder they would be as they share the pain of partition and have never had the time and space to heal it, individually or collectively. I was once again reminded of my dream of healing past collective pains and to create space for it. I think we have as a country not had any reconciliation on so many acts of violence in our collective history. Until we do that we will keep creating and feeding RSS and BJP and other strong sepratist Muslim groups. We need spaces where people can have safety in sharing their judgments and their pain and feel heard by each other. I guess as a country we have hardly done any work and that’s why there is always space for L k Advani or Narendra Modi who will come again and again, as they represent the anger or the hurt and the way they do it will lead to more violence and separation between people and breakdown of Hindu Muslim social fabric, which is as it is very fragile in this country according to me.
Hope one day we can focus on having such healing spaces and that becomes the priority of People in our country and inthe world, a space to share and listen to the pain to those who were on the receiving end of the caste structure, the voices of the tribals who were robbed of their land, the indigenous people who were killed, the backs who were stolen form their lands, kept in the slave holds, the people who were colonized by the various imperial powers and those who are still being marginalized and pushed and are at the receiving end of the global corporate domination.
If we want to see this world as belonging to all of us and even the animals and other species we need to learn to create spaces for expressing and listening to the pain. I am glad NVC gave me this one way to do it.
I would like to host more such sessions where we need to hear each others difficult messages, a space where people are not judged for their way of expression by those whose ancestors benefited from the domination and they might still having those advantages passed on to them from that domination, to increase their capacity to hear the pain without feeling guilty but instead even be able to respond them. On the other hand those who have the pain to be able to dive into their judgments and blames but come out transformed with their need and feelings and to turn them into requests which will give them the sense of their own power. I believe those of us who have been the receivers in the domination paradigm have to sense our own power in the world and move from the idea that power can be taken or given to us. Like I can go one just saying that the global north is controlling the markets but then its we also who are playing the game of submission by running after the brands and that’s what Gandhi ji was encouraging us to do when he talked of boycotting foreign goods, we can ask the brands to not sell their dream but we can build our own stamina to live with our own dream and not on someone else’s borrowed dream. I guess that would be true Swaraj which is so much in our own hands. That was some thing which I was reassured when I saw Sumeet and some of us to the ‘transforming Anger Dance Floor’.
Hoping to create space for more listening and sharing and eventual reconciliation and healing.
Also I am grateful to www.thoughtworks.com which offered their space for our workshop and to Ranjitha who was supporting me in this workshop in many ways, from looking for the space for the workshop, to arranging the Xeroxes, writing mails, supporting people on dance floors, doing roles plays, coaching participants in other exercises, cleaning up the place with the team, talking to the security staff in kannada and many more things…I feel blessed that there is so much care for us in this world. I am also grateful to all those who were willing to share their stories and came together to bring the food to bring the spirit of community in this workshop. Thanks to Taranath for taking the pics.