Tag Archives: Healing

Celebrating Conscious Eating – with Shammi in Totnes, UK.

Cook (and share!) a healthy Indian meal and learn how to make food choices compassionately, in ways inspired by Non-violent Communication (NVC)

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Shammi is an Indian film maker, change agent, organic grower, food aficionado and teacher of NVC. He will show us how to cook a simple and low-budget but delicious Indian meal with healthy ingredients: local and seasonal veggies, no animal product, etc.

You can join either at 5 pm to participate in the prepping and cooking or at 6.30 pm for the last stages of cooking. We will start eating at about 7 pm. Please book – see below!
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Shammi has experience in running organic community kitchens and is interested in the links between our emotional states and our food choices. He will guide us into a conversation on making food choices in a compassionate way – away from right-and-wrong or guilt-and-shame paradigms and towards a need-based approach that is gentle and caring to ourselves and those around us.

This playshop is offered in the spirit of the gift culture. Contributions welcome to cover the costs and to support Shammi in bringing his gifts to our communities.
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YOU MUST BOOK with Annie on a.l@zen.co.uk, 01803 762992 or 07929 962653.

Further info: Shammi’s public Facebook page (‘Kathadesh – a Land of Stories’) on http://goo.gl/1VaGMn; his blog onwww.courageouscommunication.wordpress.com as well ashttp://goo.gl/ZI6GOQ and http://goo.gl/tR4USH; a community space he co-created in Chandigarh: www.parshada.tumblr.com

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On healing of our past pain of colonialism, sharing vulnerability and hitchhiking!

Was going to Schumacher College, in Devon to share NVC with the staff and students there, yesterday. I decided to take a lift to reach there, hoping I will get some one to take me at least close to it. One pickup van stopped and the woman driving it said she was going towards it and will drop me close to it.
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As we began talking I got to know that she(Mandy) was an organic farmer who has chickens and they sell eggs. We began talking of how the structures and the regulations are so designed in a place like UK that they favor big meat farmers. When we were talking of the growth of organic food sector in UK she was talking about how even in organic produce we want to quickly scale it up like the standard economic and then end up doing mono-cropping as we run after increasing the numbers(profits). Its not the way to do organic as it has to be companion planting or intercropping. She shared that she was also in Srilanka at one time to learn about the advantages of inter cropping so she can bring those techniques in UK.
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Mandy from Ashburton

I also began to talk of my work and what I do, etc. She was curious about it and as the point came where she was planning to drop me, she said – “You are talking of interesting stuff, I will drop you right upto Schumacher.” I was super grateful. It means a lot to me when some one takes the extra step to contribute to care for me. I felt a sense of validation also as she appreciated our conversations.

I asked her if I could take her picture for my blog and she was happy for that, she then got off to show me the stuff that she was taking to Riverford a famous and big organic chain in UK.
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Mandy’s Stuff that they supply to Riverford

When I was hosting the NVC workshop at Schumacher we were doing an exercise on gratitude. I was practicing how I would have expressed my gratitude to Mandy. I had framed a statement of gratitude and was sharing with Tom who was my partner in the workshop. He was supposed to give his feedback on how it would land on Mandy and was helping me make it better sounding.
During the sharing I told Tom that “its easy for me to get triggered with white people who from Europe or North Americans when I have a conflict with them, it happens because I have a story that they want to control us(Indians or people who were colonized).” I also told him that “this story comes to me from my pain of our colonial past which has created such associations with white people and when some one like Mandy goes the few extra miles to drop me to my destination I get a sense that I am seen and that I too matter. Actually I was moved and the incident created a healing energy for me.”
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Tom told me- “then why don’t you tell her that, why not share your vulnerability!” I was happy to hear it from him and learn from some one who is for the first time being introduced to NVC in my workshop. I took his feedback into account and finally framed my statement, which was like this – “Mandy, when you came to drop me right upto the gate of Schumacher college I felt grateful and also moved, Its embarrassing to tell you that I have lot of triggers about white people because of the colonial past that we have had but your gesture not just made me connect with you but it contributed to my healing of some kind of wound I have around the history of colonialism. I am so happy to share this story of mine with you.”

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A painting of Satish Kumar who is the founder of Schumacher College and is very active in guiding it even now. 

I can still work to make it better but I am glad I was able to imagine my self sharing this vulnerability of mine with some other people. I would be happy to hear any feedback to change it so it can be more fun for a person like Mandy to hear it.

More so when I reached back to my friend Sky’s place in Ashburton I get a message from Mandy about the cap that I had forgotten in her van. I was further moved to see it. Here is her message – “Not sure if you got my previous message as it would have gone to your ‘other’ file. It was very nice meeting you yesterday – I found your hat in my van when I got back. I live in Ashburton so it would be no trouble to drop it back if you have need of it – just let me know where. All the best” – Mandy
I am enjoying how I am being cared by the universe as I am travelling in this country. I am hoping this journey will help me grow and create greater connection with the people of this part of the world. Looking forward to more of connection and a spirit of oneness with all.

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Why do I resist to say a Good Morning?

I realized that some times when I write an SMS in the morning I just start off the content without a good morning or any greeting to my friends, and then In the reply I hear a Good Morning from the other person. I then feel guilty that I was not welcoming or some thing like that. Then I fix it in the next message by starting with some greeting word like ‘haloji’.
I just wondered why don’t I say it in the first place. I realised that for me I have said this word mostly in school where you ‘had to’ say it to our teachers and if I assumed if we didnt say it I will be judged as rude or will get it back. Or the teacher might say it more sarcastically to you ‘good morning sir’! Its amazing how we have so many pain points and we need to heal ourselves from so much of that.
With one of my ex-partners, when I asked her to give me some thing like a spoon while eating some where, she gave it to me and I just took it without saying a thanks. She told me – “next time when I give you some thing can you say ‘thanks’ to me?” Even that was difficult for me to do, in fact scary to hear, I felt that if I dint say it she will not like it or things will go bad between us and I will loose her or we will fight…immediately, so in that moment I got on a rollercoaster of fear of rejections…where a series of buttons were getting pressed and it was soon going to be like a short circuit and a blast inside me and maybe between us.
I now thought about it and realize that because all the greetings that we said in school was done without our choice and more out of fear or rightness, I now have scars. Now this partner of mine just wants some acknowledgement and when I am not even in school now how do I let go or dissolve my triggers from the past? How do I see this person as who they are or see them as now just wanting an acknowledgement rather than wanting to force me to say a thank you, or some one who has power over me. I guess the pain of not having a choice is deeper and it comes leaves to a fear of acknowledgement of my autonomy. In other words, do I have any control over my life because when I believe that I don’t then I even seize to exist. I have hears Robert Gonsales say that in a millisecond with those triggers we can go into a near death like space and react to fight back from that place and come out fiercely and my poor partner who just asked for a spoon gets some kind of blow from me for asking it and not even knowing what is it that they did which tirggered me so much. Hah! I am taking a deep breath as I write this.
I realize that my friends or people around me just want and acknowledgement of their contribution and if I can see where they are coming from even when she asked me to say thanks, I can see that she is not that teacher of mine who will punish me if I don’t say it or is there to educate me, it will be easy for me to even say a ‘thanks’. In fact I get drawn into the same fear of punishment and I get constricted and am not at all self connected at such moments.
If I want deeper healing of this scar I can go back to my teacher and see where they came from, what were they wanting me to learn – maybe they wanted me to be more respectful to them so I learn to connect with other people who come in my life. In their eyes saying good morning or thanks was a strategy to bring more acceptance and connection in my life. As I write this right now also I am feeling bit more empathy for my teachers. So, I guess we need to heal ourselves from our victim hood and there are ways to do it. It will allow us to function as alive and complete human beings in our present circumstances also not propelled by past triggers. And one of the ways to do it is clto see and understand where the other person whose actions created the wound, were coming from or what need were they wanting to meet. I guess we have a life time to work on all this. If we can do that we could also support others by holding them when they get triggered by our words, by trying to see that they too have their pain which could have gotten triggered by our actions, maybe I have stepped on their wound and if I can do that they will feel held in their pain and you can make the most profound connection with them which can begin the healing of past wounds.

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A write up on NVC and my workshops…

A write up on my NVC workshops in August 2014.
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How to Heal and Transform Collective Pain from Our Past

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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LIVING COMPASSIONATELY AND COURAGEOUSLY, A two day space in Chennai

ImageOn Saturday-Sunday, March 1-2, Shammi will be hosting a 2-day course LIVING COMPASSIONATELY AND COURAGEOUSLY.

This is an introduction to NVC (Nonviolent Communication). During this two-day workshop, we will learn a different way of communicating, involving expressing ourselves honestly, hearing the deeper message when people speak in a way we don’t appreciate, connecting deeply with ourselves and others, making clear doable requests, learning to hear “No” without hearing rejection, dealing with difficult situations heartfully, finding solutions mutually, communicating through our feelings and needs instead of blame and demand / defence and attack, and expressing gratitude that touches other people deeply.

NVC encompasses all these things and more. We will explore these ideas together as a group, with dialogues, role plays and real life situations.
For more information about NVC go to https://courageouscommunication.wordpress.com/about-nvc/ and http://www.cnvc.org and about the host please go to https://courageouscommunication.wordpress.com/about/

TIME: 10 am to 5 pm (both days)
Venue: #4, 2nd Floor, G3 Building, Bharathi Nagar Cross Street, Off. L.B. Road, Near Sathya Nilayam, Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai – 600041
(Directions: Going South on L.B.Road, you will reach the Thiruvanmiyur traffic signal. Continue going south on L.B.Road. You will see a board saying ‘Bharathi Nagar’. After this point, the road will fork. Take the left one, and make a left turn. It is the second building (three-storeyed) on the right with glass exterior).

We can accommodate 40 adults. Please note that there will be no arrangements for engaging children during the workshop.

Financial Contributions: This is being offered to you in the spirit of Gift Culture, where giving and receiving is seen as sacred and we see ourselves as mutually connected. Your contribution will be received with gratitude and will go towards supporting and nurturing Shammi as he brings his gifts to our communities.

PLS REGISTER FOR THIS EVENT AT https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1DAwmmtwBY3ygvaEyTqwNfvWLTscmfv2ZhQkkkyYquIA/viewform

Lunch: We have not arranged for lunch to be catered. We will have a potluck lunch, which means that different participants are requested to bring either cooked dishes, salads or fruits that can then be shared, or your own lunch.

The Kolam has been made by our friend Kokila from Chennai

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