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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

Engaging the Inner Critic; Toward a Fluid Inner Ecology

by Rhea Shapiro

All of us with an abuse or trauma background, especially in early childhood, live with the remnants of these parts of our lives in different ways.  A common result is an inner voice that is anything but kind or supportive.  This voice echoes the tyrant or “ism” that we lived with and endured with no power to stop them.  If we have survived into adulthood we have that tyrannical and critical voice inside us.  It doesn’t stop.  We have to work it.  We have to work against it and with it.

This is a mythic challenge represented by the “wrathful deity” of Tibetan Buddhism.  We can learn to interact, wrestle, kill, re-educate, change and finally even love this inner part of ourselves.  I recall Pogo, the comic strip character’s famous quip: “ I have met the enemy and it is me!” which is completely applicable here.

Hayagriva is a fierce emanation of Amitabha (infinite light) Buddha, from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

How do we notice, work with, and transform these voices, including the habits and repeating loops we develop?  After all, these critics usually have all the secondary powers our primary identities are searching for.

The process of creating a more fluid inner ecology takes time; working back and forth, up and down, in and out, repeating, forgetting, re-repeating and slowly our inner atmospheres can shift.

Noticing Comes First

For many, this voice actually hides in its everyday form.  We are so used to an inner climate of negativity that we don’t question it.  We are hypnotized by the normality in our inner world; not expecting to do well or to be liked or loved; actually expecting to fail or be rejected; never doing well enough to satisfy this voice.

Where once this voice might have kept us safe from an abusive adult that frightened or negated us – we learned not to speak out, disagree or rock the boat – now it is just this old familiar loop that no longer serves us.  It keeps us from actualizing our full potentials and enjoying a life that a human being is meant to live.

Pulling back our projections is also noticing.  A good rule of thumb (because we internalize oppression); if it is happening outside, it is also happening inside.

Creating Relationship: Wrestling
The inner critic usually operates in the inner auditory channel, through our often unconscious ideas and thoughts about ourselves.  Creating a new relationship with this inner role means engaging this voice and practicing inner relationship work.  This includes standing up, fighting with that critic and recruiting allies, real and imagined.  We use our creativity and all perceptual channels here:  movement, sound, language, art and feelings – both body and emotion – as we create a more fluid relationship with this spirit.

These critical voices are not used to being challenged and can be quite rigid and mean.  Up to this point, it has been top dog in an open field with little resistance.  Keep going.

The critic is an inner role that can shift.  With time and work, you can create a new relationship with it, and a more fluid and sustainable atmosphere inside yourself.  Remember, as a 4 year old once announced to me:  “I am the boss of myself!”

Going Deeper

After challenging – and challenging and challenging – the inner critic, we can begin to dialogue with it.  We find out what exactly it is saying, thinking and feeling.  Critics are often too general, and when really challenged they get to the edge of their known world.

Working at that edge to create more specificity brings change, and power can shift.   To do this one must learn to really enter the critic’s role and walk in their shoes.  This is phase three of Arnold Mindell’s Four Phases of Conflict.

We are working to embody the energy of the critic, not the Consensus Reality figure from our past.  We explore the characteristics of the critic as a path to that energy.

Re-educating the Critic

As we begin to allow ourselves to embody the outer aspects of the critic, – masks and theater are helpful here – we may get to know the stories and feelings behind its meanness and small mindedness.

Critics hold our suffering in a different way than our primary identities, which usually identify as victims of the abuse.  Inner critics have internalized the power of the abuser.

Just as the victim can practice fluidity and begin to more consciously use the power of the abuser, so can the inner critic shift, develop and change.  This fluidity needs to be imagined as a possibility.  Then, in fits and starts, it can be introduced into the inner relationship between the victim and critic.  This is a good example of a “Path Made by Walking”, which is also the title of a great introductory book about Processwork, by Julie Diamond and Lee Spark Jones (now Caroline Jones).

As it says in the I-Ching; Perseverance Furthers!

You will be rewarded as this critical inner figure slowly develops into a critical awareness that works with you, supporting you to process your life experiences.

Practicing with the Essence Level

This is the inner elder who uses Big Mind and Great Compassion – phase four of conflict – to create more spaciousness and friendliness inside.  Working with the essence level tunnels underneath the polarity created by the critic.  There you find its essence, and you can use that to work with the critic itself.

There can be relief from the critic’s meanness when you dance the energies in the victim/critic polarity, and move into your nature spot and out into a universe dance.  (See Arnold Mindell’s The Universe Dance.)

The World Channel

Work in the world helps to integrate our newfound powers, as we use our critical awareness to process world problems and energies.

We all have the power to shift and grow this inner figure and develop a more fluid inner ecology.  May the force be with you!  And may you realize this great journey to yourself.

 

By Rhea Shapiro, Dipl. PW

Rhea is a longtime processworker living in Portland, Oregon.  Processing is her life’s continual joy and challenge.  Rhea’s favorite quotes from Arny Mindell are; “Oh boy, we’re in a mess now!”  and;  “Each of us is a full-time group-process.”  These quotes remind her to  remember process when working with clients and herself.  They bring an overall engagement, patience, compassion and even a sense of humor when working with so much life experience.

contact Rhea

Image credit:  Sergey Noskov, Fine Art America

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.

COVID-19 Coronavirus – Courage, Solidarity and Awareness – together we get through this

Courage, Solidarity and Awareness – together we get through this

Portland, March 7, 2020

March 19, 2020

Dear PWI community,

Wishing all of us strength, solidarity and compassion in these difficult times.  Some in our community are already deeply impacted, and others are feeling the pressure and anxiety of an uncertain future and threats we can barely comprehend.

First priority is consensus reality – please follow all guidelines and directions for public health and safety in your local context. Some links and information below.

Courage to all of us as we do our best to access and follow Consensus Reality, Dreamland and Essence level information to guide us through impossible times. Processwork is built for chaos, and our awareness skills have never been more needed.

Over the coming weeks, as we adapt to these scary times and necessary public health measures, PWI faculty will be offering online community opportunities to connect to the dreaming processes and unfold the meaning and resources in these agonizing, terrifying and perhaps transformational experiences.

Arny and Amy’s seminar in late May, and Arny’s supervision June 1st will provide a powerful space for exploration and support. They will be available online  – livestream or video recording, and we are looking forward to connecting together as a community in the virtual world.

On a CR level, as a school, we have received the latest Executive Order from the Oregon Governor, effective March 21. This requires that all in person instruction must cease until April 28.  I have written to our contact regarding guidance for the Spring quarter, but the situation is very uncertain and changing as we all know.

For current students, we will be continuing to work with each cohort and individuals to find the best way forward for everyone.  It is likely that we will be prohibited from in person instruction for the Spring Quarter, and that travel restrictions will be continuing to impact many of us.  PWI is exploring alternatives and will be connecting with individual students as well as each cohort to navigate this together.

Our practitioners have shifted their practices online, and we have cancelled in person meetings at the PWI building, as ordered.  PWI administrative office is working to adapt to the required measures as everywhere.  We put in place enhanced hygiene practices and are now staggering staff schedules and preparing to be able to shelter in place and maintain essential functions.

What a time. Stay strong, stay connected, take care of each other, together we will get through this.

Reach out if you have questions or concerns.

Sending love in these difficult and uncertain times

Hellene

 

Hellene Gronda, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Dean of Academic Programs
Office: 503 223 8188
Pronouns: she/her/hers and they/them/theirs

 

COVID-19 Information Links

 

From Oregon Health: simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19 as well as influenza and other illnesses

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people or animals.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw it away. If you don’t have a tissue, cough into your elbow.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that you frequently touch.
  • Avoid non-essential travel to regions listed in CDC travel advisories.

 

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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