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Sharing the Handprint: How Processwork Holds Me to My Dream

By Jon Biemer

August 21st, 2019 is a date I will remember.  This is when I received an offer from Rowman & Littlefield to publish From Footprints to Handprints: Creating Sustainability to Heal Our Planet.  How did I focus and stay the course long enough to reach this point of fruition?  I have Processwork to thank for that.

Competing Passions

I felt pulled in two seemingly incompatible directions. 

The idea of getting a PhD with a cross emphasis in sustainability and spirituality intrigued me, even though I had no inclination to use it for consulting or teaching. 

Also, for two decades, I had followed a Native American spiritual path.  I left my full-time job, partly with the intention of deepening my commitment to ceremony and carrying medicine. 

I brought my divergent callings to a Processwork class on altered states.  We would learn about the diversity of dreams within ourselves, and how they insist we pay attention.  The instructor used a basic Processwork technique of amplifying symptoms, in this case my yearnings.  He asked class members to form two groups, each advocating an aspect of my dreaming. 

The PhD group regaled me with congratulations for choosing their path and assured me that I would join a cadre of esteemed colleagues.  I would receive a badge of honor.

The spiritual folk literally pulled me away from the academic crowd.  They reminded me of my desire to help others.  They appealed to a calling higher than the practical plane.  They loved me. 

But I couldn’t stop looking over my shoulder.  I could not ignore the conventional crowd.  The exercise ended in chaos — but I had to treat the PhD seriously. 

My process toward the handprint

During the break I filled a whiteboard with my reservations.  I’m a slow reader.  I don’t enjoy studying, let alone following rules.  Spending four years – if all goes well – away from my environmental activism seems like a selfish distraction.  I’d be spending less time with my wife.  I wouldn’t be helping other people much either.  And the significant cost… I was at an edge, a Processwork term for fearing change.

Two bubbles on that web of thought (some call it a mind map) stood out for me – “contribute something unique,” and “need to be recognized.”  Ah… Those were the reasons the PhD was so compelling.  I realized there may be other paths to meeting those needs. 

Unfolding My Path

Upon hearing my story from the altered-states class, my wife Willow said, “You could get a PhD from the universe… rather than a university.” 

That resonated with me. 

I could intentionally treat my adventures in sustainability as coursework.  I had already managed energy conservation programs professionally.  I had supported ballot measures to curtail nuclear power.  We were in the middle of an eco-remodel of our new house, creating a “food forest” in place of a lawn, and partnering with the Johnson Creek Watershed Council to remove invasive English Ivy.

For my unique contribution, I was already nursing the idea of the Environmental Handprint, the good we do, the ways we can change the system.  Encouraged by my altered-states experience, I submitted and presented a professional paper about the Handprint, and… One morning the vision for a book crystalized. 

I loved writing, but it had always been a lower priority than getting things done.  But now a book would serve the role of my dissertation.  Besides, I might receive some recognition.

The Gift of a Headache

Four years into my book project, work proceeded slowly.  Some of my data was going out of date.

And another problem claimed my attention.  Headaches.  A fiercely intense pain over my right eye would claim my entire attention for about twenty minutes.  They came mostly during sweat lodge ceremonies.  The doctor had a nine-syllable name for these headaches and some medicine – which worked.  But, after ordering precautionary imaging, he offered no physiological reason why I was getting them. 

I brought that reality to another Processwork class.  In this instance, I walked with the seemingly incompatible energies of my ordinary plodding self and the pounding energy of my headache.  I moved first with one energy, then the other. Gradually, they fused into a lively dance. Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” came into my mind. 

I moved with the music, feeling its punctuated downbeats.  I admitted to myself that the heat of a sweat lodge was part of the headache problem.  Yes, but that thought didn’t feel helpful.  Processwork reminds us that physical symptoms can reveal wisdom that we are not already aware of, perhaps something needed for a breakthrough.  I kept dancing.

Eventually, these words came to me, “The dance is my spiritual practice.” And then, “The dance, slowed down, is my walk.” 

Suddenly I understood that my book – a walk of sorts – is a spiritual calling. 

My headache told me that life was out of balance.  It is okay to back off the sweat lodges.  I’m not abandoning my spiritual path.  I’m deepening it – as I hoped to do back when I took that altered-states class.

The labor and discernment I pour into my book is my commitment to serve.  Making money is not my goal.  However, it is important to find a mainstream publisher and partners willing to share this earth-healing message widely. 

Therefore, engaging a book coach became yet another course in my advanced study.

Takeaway

From Footprints to Handprints required six years of writing and rewriting. It represents the practicality, creativity and persistence of millions of people who are contributing to a better future.  It offers nearly two hundred Handprint Opportunities.  And it reflects the power of Processwork to help inner needs make a difference in the outer world.

The image with this article, a green handprint superimposed on the 1972 NASA photograph of the Earth, is a symbol for sustainability, much as three arrows in a triangle symbolize recycling.  

By Jon Biemer

Jon Biemer earned a Certificate in Process-oriented Psychology in 2014. He also is a registered Professional Engineer. He provides Organizational Development consulting to businesses and non-profits. Check out his website at www.JonBiemer.com. Contact him at jonbiemer@gmail.com, especially if you’d like to receive publication announcements about From Handprints to Footprints: Creating Sustainability to Heal Our Planet

Image credits: Jon Biemer

Spring 2020 Cohorts

Applications are currently being accepted for both the Master of Arts in Process Oriented Facilitation and Conflict Studies and the Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Process Work. 

Application Deadline is January 31st, 2020. 

Classes start April 30, 2020. 

Please contact pwi@processwork.org if you have any questions. 

If you would like to apply click here: 

Academic Program Application

PWI Open House – December 13th

JOIN US FOR OUR NEXT PWI OPEN HOUSE

Friday, December 13, 2019, 6-7:30pm PST

at the Process Work Institute & online

https://zoom.us/j/628803432 

Processwork Applications in Today’s World

hosted by Dawn Menken, PWI founding faculty and Director of Teens Rise Up

with Errol Amerasekera, Jan Dworkin, Lolo Halman  & Julie Diamond

Find us on Facebook: Open House Dec 13, 2019 Facebook Event 

Errol Amerasekera has applied his PW education to working with elite sporting teams and organisations to assist them in the development of high-performance cultures and ethically sound leadership.

Jan Dworkin has refined her processwork practice to specialize in executive coaching, conflict facilitation and couples counseling.

Lolo Halman has combined theatre and processwork to facilitate creative dialogue and instigate change around social issues

Julie Diamond has been using PW expertise in the field of leadership development, coaching, assessment, and training for organizations, companies and federal government agencies.

COME LEARN HOW PROCESSWORK CAN BE USED IN

DIFFERENT CONTEXTS!

    

 Dawn Menken    Jan Dworkin    Lolo Halman    
    
  Julie Diamond    Errol Amerasekera

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 (no January class)

5:30-6:30pm Pacific Time

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

Oct 3 – A Process Work Approach to Addictions

Nov 7 — Activism and Process Work: An Organic Union

Dec 5 – Unfolding Anxiety and Depression

Feb 6 – Exploring the Wisdom of Our Dreams

March 5 – Raising Parents, Raising Kids, Raising Us All: A Process Work Approach to Parenting

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

WORLDWORK 2020

MAY 23-28, 2020 – Musqueam Territory – University of British Columbia – Vancouver BC

DARING TO DREAM AT THE EDGE OF OUR KNOWN WORLD
A world facing profound polarization, extreme inequities, and a global climate crisis.
We come together as an international community to learn and create a deeper democracy through awareness, conflict, and relationship.

GET IN TOUCH
ww2020bc@gmail.com
www.worldwork.org

 

As you may have experienced WorldWork is an experience of community in so many ways, in love and in conflict, in agony and feeling of being held, it is an opportunity to experience and share in this sense of global community on different levels and different ways. 
 
Today the WorldWork 2020 BC fundraising team are reaching out to help us share in community by showing financial support. This show of support will impact real people doing real work from places and lived experiences in the world, local and international, where it is hard to access the experience of training, community and awareness that we co-create in WorldWork. More concretely we have had, as a result of your powerful work in the world, scholarship applicants from India, Palestine, South Africa, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Thailand, Latin America, Canada, Russia, USA, Mexico, Ecuador, Greece, Spain,  the list goes on. 
 
As you may or may not know Worldwork gives anywhere between 30-50% of its participants some kind of support to attend. We have already given out 50 full tuition scholarships and at this moment we have a growing waiting list.  
 
We have created, with the support of our former scholars, a crowdfunding site with touching and powerful  written and video testimonials from some of our scholars-so moving: https://chuffed.org/project/worldwork-2020-igniting-a-deeper-democracy 
 
Thank you in advance for your support.  

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/

 

Master of Art in Process-Oriented Facilitation and Conflict Studies

ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR SPRING 2020

The MA in Process-oriented Facilitation and Conflict Studies (MAPOF) teaches students to facilitate inner psychology and world problems. Our graduates work in leadership, organizations, counseling, coaching, and as mediators and facilitators in community and global contexts. Our vision is to teach people how to relate to themselves and each other, even amongst difficult conflicts, polarities, and moods. Our experienced faculty, including founders Arnold and Amy Mindell, have experience ranging from depth psychology to large organizational consulting, to war zones, and offer students unique training in methods for working with the interconnectivity of personal problems and world problems.

For more information and to apply please visit: https://www.processwork.edu/academic-programs/masters-of-process-oriented-facilitation-and-conflict-studies-2/

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