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Maid Servant in a Rich Man’s House; Processwork on Roles and Rank

by Kalpana Tanwar

Shri Ramakrishna (1836-1886) is one of India’s most revered saints.  Near Portland, OR, a shrine is dedicated to him and his followers in Scappoose, along with an ashram in SE Portland.  On NW 23rd Avenue, I saw a portrait of him in a meditation room.

As a young girl, I recall reading aloud to my father from “The Mission of Shri Ramakrishna”.  My father was a follower and this was his way of teaching me the precepts.  At the time, I didn’t care for the teachings.  Decades later, I’m reading the same book in a reading circle in Bengaluru.

One of Shri Ramakrishna’s instructions is: Live like a maid-servant in a rich man’s house.

In today’s world this statement brings up issues of rank – gender, class, economic, social, etc.  We can debate it from our current socially evolved lens ad nauseum and easily dismiss it as irrelevant.

Let’s examine this equation in terms of therapy.

Rank and Roles

Processwork tells us that rank is fluid and flexible, and that we are generally unconscious of our high rank, whilst frequently identifying with our low rank.  We take on roles unconsciously.  However, with awareness, we can pick up, drop, and even switch roles.

Many hard-working, successful people become extremely wealthy over the years.  Are they enjoying the good life?  Hardly.  They are caught in the trap of constant vigilance for competitors, always attempting to keep up peak performances.  So, they are constantly stressed out, anxious, and fearful.  They are not living the life of the rich man, in spite of being one in reality.  They are indentured to their business, maid servant to the call of the cash register.

If these individuals took ownership of their success, and then lived like maid servants, they could be truly happy.  But they are so far disconnected from their material reality and their emotional greed, they are trapped to live a life of fear and anxiety.  Their wealth becomes a heavy burden to carry; their success is a whip constantly lashing at their backs.

Role Switches Impact Lives

A mother is highly concerned about her two adolescent sons who are energetic, fearless, and adventurous.  In the role of the maid servant she would be there for them, provide food, shelter, and a clean, safe home.  She acknowledges that they are exploring their boundaries, getting to know and test themselves and the world they live in.  She goes on to carve an independent identity for herself beyond being just a mother.  The boys discover the ways of the world and become strong independent people living authentic lives.

If instead she chose to be the rich man – ever-vigilant, demanding, having unrealistic expectations of obedience and domesticity, it would cause this family undue trauma.

Being Practical in Relationship

An attractive, well qualified, employed young woman in her late 30s is desperately seeking her life partner.  She wants to start a family.  Few men can match up to her expectations.  Like a rich man, she has been shopping around.

If she saw herself as a maid servant, she would check out her options by prioritizing her needs, as would anyone who were seeking out terms of employment.  Does she have the required skills?  Is she willing to commit?  What does she expect in return?  When does duty end?  Are her skills aligned to the task at hand?

Few of us ever want to look at relationships with such practicality.  Being giddy headed, and swept off one’s feet is the desired norm in romantic relationships.  Its outcome is usually enormous loss, heartbreak, pain, loss of selfhood.

Using High Rank Congruently

An engineer working in a software company is being constantly dumped on by her male colleagues.  Her traditional Indian upbringing – to be obedient, docile, quiet, taking care of others and looking out for their preferences and needs – no longer serves her well in the corporate environment.  All was well when she was the maid servant in her father’s house.  As a manager, she needs to embrace the identity of the rich man.  She must now consciously connect to her high rank and take ownership of it.  Once she becomes conscious of her maid servant demeanor, she will be able to embrace the rich man within her, switch roles, and become an exemplary leader in the organisation.

Role Switches Impact Society

In the age of the pandemic, one of the biggest difficulties has been for the rich man to be the maid servant.  As an entitled society enjoying our freedoms and privileges, we resent being told what to do and how to do it.  The need to be a rich man is deeply engrained in us.  We fear that if the rich man goes away, we will be nothing.  The fear and uncertainty lead us to indulge in risky behavior.

If we were to feel less entitled, we wouldn’t mind being the maid servant now for the time being.  As a maid servant, we would carry in our hearts our very own real homes that we would one day return to and so we’d feel secure and complete even as we toed the line and followed new rules.

My Personal Rich Man and Maid

This saying is a truism in my own life.  In my 30s, I was the entitled rich woman with a great career, a picture-perfect family, economic security, and social status.  Halfway through my 40s when things began to unravel in my own life, I realized that I was being the maid-servant; much to my horror!  In my 50s, Process Work has taught me that I am both the rich man and the maid servant.  This means that I can choose to now enjoy my riches, knowing I must do my duty with due diligence as a maid servant.

Crossing the edge from rich man to maid servant or vice-versa is difficult.  When we cross it, understand that we are both the rich man and the maid servant simultaneously, it helps us to navigate life better.  Knowing which role to take on when, is the path to a better way of being.


By Kalpana Tanwar, MSW, Dipl. PW

Kalpana  has an MA in Medical and Psychiatric Social Work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences,  and has worked for 20 years in the field of qualitative market research in the 80s and 90s in Mumbai, India.

From 2002-10, she lived in Portland, Oregon, to pursue her MA and Diploma in Processwork.  In India, from 2010, she introduced and taught Process Oriented courses and workshops for nine years at the Srishti Institute of Design in Bengaluru, and has been in private practice working with individuals and families.

In her vlog, Navigate with Kalpana, she shares her wealth of experience and expertise as a psychotherapist, conflict facilitator, and educator.

Photo credit: Pixabay

Case Supervision with Arny Mindell January 2021

Join Arny Mindell for Support, Understanding and/or Insights into Your Work with Individuals, Relationships, or Groups.

Find out more and register online

This class provides individual case supervision to support both inner development and outer work of participants working with people or groups on any situation including severe illness and near death, one to one, family, and organizational scenes.
January 22nd, 2021
6:30 – 9:30pm Pacific
Livestream and Audio Recording
Class fee $65
***This class is included in the Discover Processwork January Intensive.  No need to register separately if you are attending one or both weeks.***
Financial Equity Options available
Please choose the rate that is fair for you by using these discount codes at checkout:
Rate 1 $65  By Jan 8th $58.50 – code: EarlyRegArny
Rate 2 $45.50 –  code: FinEQ
Rate 3 $26 –  code: FinEQ3

Discover Processwork – Online Intensive Jan 16-28, 2021

Discover Processwork – Online Intensive Jan 16-28, 2021

tools for personal and collective transformation

experiential –  online – immersive

online only ~ live and recordings

For anyone looking for a transformational, experiential introduction to the ideas, practices and range of Processwork tools for personal and collective transformation.

Find out all about the intensive and how to register: 

Week 1: January 16-22

Week 2: January 22-28  

Register for both weeks – bundle and save 


Week 1: January 16-22, 10am-1pm PST

Jan. 16th: New Introduction to Process Oriented Psychology, Arny and Amy Mindell (start at 9:30am for welcome)

Jan. 17th: Process Work with Dreams, Salome Schwarz

Jan. 18th: Big Medicine: Process Work with Body Symptoms, Pierre Morin

Jan. 19th: Chronic Symptoms and Childhood Dreams, Suzette Payne

Jan. 20th: The Creativity of Your Dreaming Process, Amy Mindell

Jan. 21st: Group Closure: Group Process, Inner Work and Open Seat, Lily Vassiliou


**Jan. 22nd 6:30-9:30pm: Case Supervision for All: Support, Understanding And/Or Insights Into Your Work With Individuals, Relationships or Groups, Arny Mindell. This class will also be open to the public. If you would like to present a case, please send Arny one sentence about the situation at


Week 2: January 22-28, 3-6pm PST

Jan. 23rd: Introduction to Relationships, Lane Arye (start at 2:30pm for welcome)

Jan. 24th: Nuts and Bolts of Group Process, Bill Say

Jan. 25th: Relationships, Conflict and Power, Jan Dworkin

Jan. 26th: Group Process: Edges and Hotspots, Emetchi

Jan. 27th: Relationship Dreaming, Gary Reiss

Jan. 28th: Group Closure: Group Process, Inner Work and Open Seat, Dawn Menken

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.


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.


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

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.

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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 @

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:

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