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Applications open for the Master of Arts in Process Oriented Facilitation and Conflict Studies.

Next cohort starts October 1, 2020.

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Rhinos, Fires, and Pandemics

(This post was written before the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, and the uprisings across the US. So it does not address the pandemic of police killing black people and institutionalized racial violence.)

by Lane Arye

It is a time of upheaval, uncertainty, financial collapse.  Of fear, sickness, death, grief.  Of isolation, self-protection, selfless service, slowing down, going inside.

While COVID-19 is decimating communities of color in the US, highlighting and amplifying systemic oppression, and so many people are losing their jobs, I have the huge privilege to live in a house with my healthy family, see clients on Zoom, and work on myself.  Unfairly, it’s a time of incredible growth for me.

Working on Worst Fears

I spent the first week of the pandemic welcoming and fully experiencing the fear in my body, letting it tremble until the shaking was a vibration resonating with the vibration of the universe.  Then I worked on my worst fantasies of being deathly ill with the virus, alone in a hospital room, my lungs filled with scars, unable to take a breath.  I took in the physical suffering, the terror.  I felt my aversion to it, fighting against reality.  I felt my fury, loneliness, self-pity, and entitlement.  “Why me?  I am too important to be having this experience!”  Then I let all of that die.  What remained was freedom.  Acceptance.  Equanimity.  An ecstatic joy.  Huge gratitude for this breath, this moment.

Flowing with the Current

This reminds me of a Taoist tale.  Confucius, on the edge of a turbulent river, sees an elderly man apparently fall in.  The master orders his disciples to rescue the man.  They find him standing downstream, unharmed.  When Confucius asks how he fought against the dangerous whirlpools, the man laughs.  “I didn’t fight.  I let the vortex take me to the bottom; then it pushed me back up.”  This ancient wisdom is at the core of Processwork.  Rather than resisting what is disturbing or scary, we follow it to the bottom.  When we flow with the river of process, our troubles become teachers, leading us toward something valuable and meaningful.

Triggered Childhood Trauma

Even with such deep experiences, I sometimes still get triggered into old trauma.  Much of my life has been ruled by fear.  Childhood taught me the world is not safe.  Those who should have taken care of me were themselves life threatening.  Lack of safety somehow got projected onto germs.  That guy just coughed into his hand.  He touched that doorknob.  Someone else is touching the doorknob, and now she’s coming toward me!  I’ve healed so much of that trauma, and yet it still lives in my body, waiting for a trigger.

Fire and Rhinos in my Dream

In the first weeks the coronavirus was spreading through California, I had a dream.  In the dream, I’m living in an old farmhouse.  I go outside and see my gate is open.  I’m angry that someone opened my gate.  I see a bunch of rhinoceroses standing in my front yard, and I know it will be impossible to move them.  I go back inside and a homeless man is in my kitchen, setting small fires all around the outside walls of my house.  I scream “what the f#@k are you doing?!” and I run to the kitchen to get water to put out the fires.  I can’t find a container to carry the water in.  I know I’ll never put the fires out, which by now have multiplied and grown.  I wake up in a panic.

Reflecting on it, I saw that the “me” in the dream (what Processwork calls my primary process, the part I identify with and that’s most known to me) was angry and scared.  It wanted to close the gate, get rid of rhinos, and put out fires.  My secondary process (the part that’s disturbing to me or definitely “not me”) included the rhinos, the open gate, the homeless man, and fires burning down the walls.  How could I possibly follow these disturbances?  I felt too shaky to even try.  I anyway couldn’t go further at the time.  It was time to buy food for my family, my first shopping trip in the time of Covid-19.

Grocery Shopping During Covid

The store was crowded.  I was nervous to touch the food, wondering if the virus was on it.  When someone came near me, I felt angry and scared, and quickly walked away.  I was hypervigilant, my body tense, my eyes scanning for danger.

Waiting in line to pay, the guy behind me kept coming too close.  My muscles tightened, ready to push him or run.  Then I remembered the rhinos.  My body immediately settled.  I was as huge as they were, as grounded and immovable, my thick skin impenetrable as armor.  In that moment I remembered the fires, and I let the fires burn down my walls.  Suddenly I looked around and saw people, who all looked scared.  I was filled with compassion for them.  They were no longer threats.  They were human beings like me, and I loved them.

I was reminded of a poem by Mizuta Masahide, a 17th century Japanese poet and samurai.

“My barn having burned down, I can now see the moon.”

From Trauma to Freedom

What happened there?  When I walked into that store, my old trauma was triggered, and the little scared boy was in the driver’s seat.  I was seeing the world through his hypervigilant eyes, feeling through his tense body.  Long gone was Lane the processworker, who meditated on his death, opening his lungs and his being to the virus.  My body in hyperarousal, I was in fight/flight mode, ready to yell at or run from the people coming too close to me.  Like in my dream, I wanted to close my gates, protect my property, not let in anything that could hurt me.  But gratefully, the rhino was inside my gates, in my body.  When I felt the rhino’s grounded invulnerability, the scared boy settled down.  I no longer needed walls to protect me and was happy to burn them down.  Then I could see the beauty all around me.  I was homeless, with nothing protecting me, nothing needing protection.  The river had pulled me to the bottom and lifted me back up, with treasure in my pockets.  My barn having burned down, I could see the moon.

 

By Lane Arye, Dipl. PW., Ph.D.

Lane Arye is a senior Processwork trainer and a founding faculty member of The Processwork Institute.  Whether teaching, working in private practice, facilitating community and organizational conflicts, he partners with people to help create more inner and outer freedom, inclusion and wholeness.  A process structure geek, Lane has a process oriented, neurobiologically informed way of framing and working with trauma reactions.  He researches whiteness, and leads groups for white folks about race, resilience and repair.  Lane lives near San Francisco with his wife and two teenagers, who help him grow his heart every day.

Learn more about Lane or contact him at: www.ProcessWorkLane.com

 

Image credits

Fire: pixabay

Rhinos: pexels

Intervening in Racism; Key to Cultural Change

As Black America stands up and refuses to take any more government licensed brutality, joined by other people of color and white allies, all of us are called to assess our values and what we contribute to immanent cultural change.  Over the past four years, I have been pessimistic about the direction of that change.  Now, the abundant energy of the Black Lives Matter protests, fueled by the financial deprivation and confinement of the Covid crisis (which disproportionately hits African and Native Americans) gives me real hope.

Racism

Racial oppression, beginning with colonialism, genocide and slavery, and continuing with mass incarceration of people of color today, is an integral part of US and global culture.  It shares common roots with all the scourges of our world: misogyny and rape culture, homo-and-transphobia, capitalist greed and poverty, cultural genocide, ableism and environmental destruction.  It is far broader than the horrific murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and so many others.  Everyday racism, from physical violence to microaggressions that white people don’t notice on systemic and personal levels, is a constant pressure on people of color.  It is a massive public health crisis.

Racism has been with us a long time.  It is taking, and will continue to take, a lot of work to uproot and change.  White people need to step up more, face our responsibility and work harder for that change.

Cultural Myths

C.G. Jung worked with individuals on lifelong patterns through the lens of a life-myth, symbolized in an early dream or memory.  In Processwork, we also apply this to groups, organizations and whole cultures.

Our cultural myths appear in the stories we tell.  Novels, movies and songs can be seen as our collective nighttime dreams, while the bigger tales; religious texts and origin stories are symbolic of our cultural trajectory.

Old Stories

In the oldest stories, humans are part of nature.  Other species have equal importance, and spirit is present and inseparable from the material world.  Native American nations of the southwest tell how Coyote creates the world.  In the northwest it is Raven, who also brings light.  In Indigenous Australian wisdom Dreamtime gives rise to our reality, co-created by animals, plants and rocks.  Nature is sacred, and humans are dependent on her.  Ancient Celtic stories, and old stories from African and Asian countries contain a similar profound reverence for all life.

The essence experience of wonder about existence, the awe and understanding that another being – whether flower or human – is as amazing as ourselves, is key.  When we live from this place, debasement and impersonal violence are not possible.

Myths That Disconnect Us

In contrast, the Judeo-Christian-Islamic story of Genesis places humans above nature and separates out spirit and wonder.  Many interpret Adam’s stewardship of other species as license or even a mandate to use, abuse and destroy.  Too often white people extend this to humans they see as different from themselves.

The elevation of white European style culture over nature and other peoples can also be understood from the many stories where a Christian figure destroys a wild beast.  These stories include Beowulf and Grendel, St George and the Dragon, and St Patrick expelling the snakes.

Until recently, science hasn’t given us a better alternative.  Our current materialism tells a sterile story of the big bang and a meaningless, chemical origin of life.  It’s a short step from this to nihilism and apathy.  Senseless consumerism and numbing to disaster and harm to others are not a necessary consequence of scientific materialism, but without dedication to humanist ethics, it is where many of us live.

New Return to Old Wisdom

It’s time for a new cultural myth, or return to old and indigenous ones.  There is room to reinterpret Genesis as God entrusting humans with responsibility to care for nature, not dominate her.  Christians can refocus on Christ’s actual core message; equality and love for all.

Quantum science and many psychologies are re-centering consciousness in our understanding of life.  Reflecting back wisdom present in Indian traditions for thousands of years, as well as indigenous knowledge the world over, new science tells us consciousness is the foundation of existence.

If we choose to live and relate from knowing all things are conscious, we will have a wondrous relationship to everything.  It will be much harder to cut off our innate sense of empathy, the curiosity and sense of connection that all children show.

We need to adopt global cultural myths that guide us to actively care what other people experience.

Practical Tools

On a more practical level, Processwork also gives us tools for understanding and working with the roles present in oppression.  These roles are similar whether on a systemic level, in a specific situation, or even within an individual.

Roles

The roles of oppression are victim, perpetrator and witness.  In systemic racism, those roles are inhabited by people of color, white supremacy groups including corrupt police and other agencies, and the public and political systems.  It is not enough that only people of color and some white people bear witness and understand racial oppression.  All white people need to shoulder our responsibility, be present and make change.

When the witness goes beyond observing and intervenes in the abuse, they change the whole story and shift us from the myth of disconnection into our essence of caring for all life.  They connect us to our new and ancient myths and create sustainable cultural change.

Role Transformation

As the witness tranforms into the intervener – and in the case of systemic oppression the public and political systems are by far the most powerful part – the oppression is halted.  The victim role can begin to transform to the thriver, and the perpetrator also has the opportunity to change.  If they decide to, the perpetrator can use their power for the common good instead of against it.  St. George, instead of slaying the dragon can choose to be a noble protector.

Inner Roles

These roles also live inside us as internalized oppression.  In her excellent TED talk, Zed Xaba describes working on internalized racial oppression.

White people who work to be allies also have racist parts inside us, as well as our own internal oppression, which comes out unconsciously and harms people of color.  We have to do our inner work too.

Inside the white supremacist, these roles also play themselves out.  It is traumatic to teach a child to hate other humans.  The adult that child becomes must continuously oppress their innate sensitivity to maintain that hate.

Change is Coming

In this moment, as I hear helicopters again over the protests in the city of Portland, our cultural witness role has stepped into the intervener against systemic racism.

Everyday people are flooding the streets of 430 US cities and many other cities worldwide in sustained response to the brutal murder of George Floyd.  Many city and local governments are responding to this call.  Our current federal government may not be able to hear, care or shift, but as described in the Chinese classic the I Ching, in times of change, what is too rigid will eventually break.

 

Take Action:

Please consider donating to Black Lives Matter, or to a local organization such as Don’t Shoot Portland

Support black owned businesses countrywide and local to Portland

Further Resources:

Join this online anti-racism training by Raggi Kotak, Challenging the Dynamics of Racism

Learn about racism as a public health crisis at Right to Health

Learn about internalized oppression from Zed Xaba

Reading and other resources, and other organizations to support can be found here, here and here

 

 

by Elva Redwood, MA, PW Dipl., Managing Editor

Elva Wolf Redwood is a Processwork Diplomate practicing with individuals, couples and organizations in Portland, Oregon, USA, and on-line.  They are a writer and a lover of dogs, fermented foods and knitting.  They repeatedly commit to intervening in oppression of all kinds, wherever they find it, and to work on climate justice.  They are drawn particularly to work with artists, activists, culture changers and anyone addressing developmental trauma.

Pronouns: them/they/their

elvaredwood.com

Deep in your heart, deep in the quietness of the night, your grandest visions include hope for the future of humanity and the planet earth. Formulate those grand visions now …

After thinking of these visions, consider how you can model them in all that you do.  Imagine right now using your vision, and see yourself modeling it.

 

Amplify your vision with the following ‘addition’: n

ature moves us; our job is to make these movements conscious and useful. Dreams and emotions, love and anger happen.

 

Our job is to guide these feelings so that they enrich our own and everybody else’s life, the life of all sentient beings. This ‘addition’ to your vision implies that life itself is a sacred event, even though it sometimes seems impossible.

 

Life is not just a problem, but a kind of spiritual fighting ring, a temple requiring your utmost ability and wisdom. Nothing less than the grandest part of you is needed in an ultimate situation. The present moment is an opportunity, not only a threatening catastrophe.

 

Amy and Arnold Mindell. (2003). Short recipe for resolving conflict crises. Psychotherapy and Politics International, 1(1), 64–68.

Why Manifestation Doesn’t Always Work: A Process Perspective

By Jeanell Innerarity

If you’ve engaged in personal growth work in the last fifteen years, you’ve probably dabbled in “manifestation.”  Manifestation hit the mainstream with the 2006 release of the documentary The Secret, which featured celebrities, philosophers, and even scientists talking about how they create their own reality by acting like it’s already real.  The movie claims that some of society’s biggest names have used this “secret” to get to ahead, and the rest of us can do the same.

Life is more Complex

If tuning in to the vibration of our goals is the only thing between us and our ideal reality, then why aren’t we there yet?  Did some of us stick the wrong images on our vision boards?  How come manifestation sometimes works, and sometimes doesn’t?  I believe the missing piece in this conversation is PROCESS!

Process, if you know how to track it, is no secret.  The word “process” can be a noun or a verb and applies in many contexts, but it always implies that something is emerging naturally from what came before it.  As a Processworker, I track process by noticing what is more obvious or consciously known (primary), and facilitating opportunities for the less known (secondary) aspects of awareness to emerge.

The Secondary Process

How do I apply this when a client comes to me and says they want to “manifest” something?  The term manifestation gives me a clue: there’s a primary aspect of their awareness which has a goal, and a secondary aspect which has another plan entirely!

A client once came to me with enormous career goals.  Already the leader of an international organization, they wanted to manifest more power, money, and status.  However, they were exhausted.  Their shoulders were tied up in knots.  Their relationship and libido suffered.  They had been betrayed in a business deal and felt unable to trust.  Their primary process was success, but their secondary process was rest. 

What they thought they wanted to manifest was one-sided and oversimplified; it did not honor the complexity of their life and character, and was impossible to maintain without serious consequence.  When you marginalize significant aspects of your experience in order to manifest something, the secondary aspects of your process will eventually sabotage your efforts!

All the Isms

But what if what you’re honoring your full experience, yet you keep running into roadblocks?  When clients describe this scenario, I often find that classism, racism, homophobia, or other institutionalized biases are at play.  A person tries to manifest their dreams, and the world pushes back against them.

Does this mean they can’t get there?  Absolutely not!  With these clients (and within myself) I bring to light the process of internalized oppression—the way in which we repeat to ourselves the same critical and dangerous stories the world has fed us.  In this case, we must first fight the inner oppressor and pick up its power for ourselves!  The outside world may not immediately change, but when we stop agreeing with its insidious and abusive voices we can act with more confidence and at least avoid self-sabotage.  After we’ve laid a foundation for a less hurtful inner dialogue, we can strategize about how to take action, build alliances, and even change systems in the wider world.

If you experience societal oppression and believe—as many do—that manifesting your dreams is based solely on your own ability to visualize, then you will feel like a personal failure every time your dreams don’t come true.  In this case, the culture of manifestation becomes abusive; it tells people that the big isms—sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, etc.—are easy to overcome, thus erasing the pain, challenge, and grief of someone’s experience.  Not fertile soil for manifestation!

You Can’t Go Against Your Needs

It’s also nearly impossible to manifest an intention which overrides a fundamental need.  A classic example shows up in the field of weight loss.  How many millions of people have spent billions of dollars trying to lose weight, only to fail at the outset or gain back more than they lost?  If you eat to “be big” or take up space, to feel safe in your body, to feel free of the sexual gaze, or to experience comfort, then no amount of focusing on thinness will manifest your vision until you can feel these things on your own terms.  Additionally, the cultural emphasis on weight loss is a type of social oppression all its own, so it’s important to explore why you might want to lose weight in the first place.

Your True Nature

And finally, there’s destiny.  Processwork proposes that we each have a unique path in life: a certain type of trajectory, tendency, and dreaming process which shows up in our earliest childhood dream (or memory) and cycles back throughout our lives.  A sort of personal myth.  To harness the power of that myth is to live out your destiny!

In my earliest childhood dream, I disturb the status quo and wake up terrified of my own power.  Predictably, when I try to conform to the mainstream in my waking life it comes back to bite me;  it’s against my nature, which is to use my power to wake people up!  I can’t manifest something lasting if it isn’t “me;” when I’m true to who I am, extraordinary things manifest themselves in my favor.

Because of the impact of the secondary process, societal oppression, unmet needs, and personal destiny, manifestation doesn’t always work, but sometimes it does!  Sometimes, with astonishing quickness and accuracy, you wish for something and get what you wanted.  Is that just dumb luck?  Maybe occasionally!  More often, I’d say it’s akin to “going with the flow.”  When you learn to track and unfold your own process, when you align your choices with your true nature, and when you notice and act on synchronicities, you get out of your own way.  When you honor your needs and take back the power of the internalized oppressor, you open up possibilities for the intelligent universe to shower you with blessings!  It’s just that those blessings might look nothing like what you intended to manifest….

By Jeanell Innerarity, MAPOF, LMT (#22490)

Jeanell Innerarity facilitates personal healing with global impact.  She specializes in integrative work to help clients better understand their personal power through the lenses of ancestry, Earth connection, and somatic awareness.  She is the Founder and CEO of The EcoSpiritual Education Center LLC, where she provides group workshops, one-on-one counseling, and online education focused on personal development interwoven with ecological and social sustainability.  She holds an MA in Process Oriented Facilitation, a BA in Environmental Studies, is certified in Permaculture and Ecovillage Design, and is a Licensed Massage Therapist.  She recently completed her first novel.

Learn more about Jeanell’s work at Ecospiritual Education

Image credit: Jeanell Innerarity

TRU 2020 (July 13-17, 2020)

This 5-day intensive workshop is for teens aged 14-18 who want to develop their leadership capacity, build new friendships, impact their communities, and have fun doing it!

Teens will engage in creative activities to increase personal power, find their unique gifts, build communication skills, strengthen relationship and facilitate conflict within themselves and in groups.

We support youth in their own leadership by teaching them to believe in their innate creativity, to appreciate internal and external diversity and to forge real relationships across differences. We teach them the skills they will need in order to recognize, work with and resolve conflict.

TRU Youth Leadership Intensive July 13-17, 2020

Download (PDF, 83KB)

Upcoming Courses

Please take a look at our upcoming courses. https://www.processwork.edu/upcoming-courses/

Click to select a category:

Process Work in Practice: Free Introductory Classes

Join Dawn Menken for Process Work in Practice: Free Introductory Classes

These free one-hour classes will present a Process Work approach to working with a variety of themes that emerge in our lives and in private practice. These short sessions are meant to introduce the public to a variety of Process Work applications but will also include ideas that can enhance learning for students and practitioners. These drop-in classes will occur monthly on-line.

First Thursday of each month

5:30-6:30pm Pacific Time

Online @ https://zoom.us/j/417364317

April 2 – Engaging with Dying, Death and Grief

Dawn Menken, Ph.D., is a conflict resolution educator, counselor, facilitator, and workshop presenter. She is a senior faculty member in the graduate program at the Process Work Institute in Portland, Oregon and was co-creator of its masters programs, serving as academic dean for ten years. She is the creator of Teens Rise Up (TRU), a cutting edge program that empowers and educates young people to step into their leadership, engage in honest dialogue, and co-create a more welcoming school community. She is the author of the award winning book, Raising Parents Raising Kids: Hands on Wisdom for the Next Generation. A dynamic teacher with a sharp mind and playful spirit, Dawn enjoys working with people from all cultures and backgrounds.  For more information see her website: www.dawnmenken.com

Winter Intensive 2020! January 19th – February 20th, 2020

Join us in 2020 for the 35th Annual Winter Intensive!

The Process Work Institute invites you to join us for our 35th Annual Winter Intensive Course to be held at the Process Work Institute in Portland, Oregon.  

January 19th – February 20th, 2020

EARLY REGISTRATION DEADLINE IS NOVEMBER 1st 

The course offers a unique opportunity to learn Process Work in an intensive format and within an international group setting. The course includes Process Work’s many applications and its most recent developments, and it is designed as an adult learning event. Participants will learn and study together by means of theory, experiential exercises, and group processes. Since the course attracts students from many nationalities, ethnic groups, and religious backgrounds, issues such as multiculturalism, diversity, and community building are part of the learning experience.

 

For more information and to register please visit: https://www.processwork.edu/public-programs/winter-intensive/

 

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