In the past 10 years, I have also been learning how politically important it is to develop personal power - or the ability to know my own inner life and connect with spiritual values.
In my life and work with people who have survived political persecution, I often recognize a mix of personal, social and political power. For example, a person may have a clear vision of justice and the ability to hold onto a sense of dignity alongside receiving solidarity, the practical community-based supports found in many grassroots movements. It is consciously developing a variety of these powers, consistently over time, that allows us to respond transformatively to violence without getting stuck only in cycles of fight, flight or freeze.
The upcoming Conscious Use of Power training is about finding, understanding, accessing, and intentionally using power that you may not have had easy access to before. Once we are aware of our powers and their impacts - we are less likely to abuse power, or feel powerless. As trainers, we support participants to deeply embody a conscious use of power so that our change work becomes more alive, nourishing and effective.
I often experience a really awesome feeling when I am tapping into my personal power to create change. I can have a sense of myself being as rooted as a mountain, direct as a tiger, and fluid as a river. Quite a creative, life-affirming experience!
I read recently that the Asaro tribe of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea have a saying, “Knowledge is only a rumor until it lives in the muscle.” In order to be able to access the kind of power I need when I need it – like in the messy heat of conflict, or the hopelessness of resisting yet more violence - I need to practice. The Conscious Use of Power program provides opportunities to practice and get immediate detailed feedback on your practice.
Building our muscle memory of using power well is what excites me so much about our work in this training. We invite our whole selves to show up so we can really integrate our knowledge of power within our daily actions. We use gentle methods that involve the head, heart and body. Expect to explore your history and identities, to relate to others similar and different from you, and also to move, feel, think and play together.
I'm committed to this work because I've seen the difference it makes in my own life, organizations and movements. Wherever you are in your journey of grappling with issues of diversity, equity and social change - I hope you will join us for Conscious Use of Power November 4 - 8, 2015.
If you are looking to learn more about the course, check out our fantastic list of events coming up in September.
Contact me if you have questions!