Principles of Consultation

(These are borrowed from the Baha’i approach to problem-solving, decision-making and conflict resolution which is called Consultation. Sounds a lot like Authentic Dialogue):

Consultation is a form of collective decision-making carried out in accordance with a clear body of spiritual principles.
The aim of Consultation is to investigate the truth in a spirit of love and unity.
The following are twelve key principles; there are many more.

Main idea: Consultation is the art of collective investigation of the truth about any issue or problem. It is a form of spiritual and intellectual exchange in an atmosphere of love & unity.

1. Each and every one should have a chance to speak.
All have the right to speak freely and frankly.
All others support and guarantee this right.

2. Every one accords utmost attention, respect, interest and appreciation to the person who is speaking.
We guarantee attention and respect.

3. Once stated, every opinion or viewpoint belongs to the consulting group.
No one seeks to impose his view on others.
The person who offers an idea immediately becomes detached from right of authorship; he adopts a position of detachment from the idea that he offered.

4. No one should be offended by any opinion stated by anyone else.
Everyone strives to be courageous and open-minded enough to listen receptively to any kind of idea, however unusual it might seem at first.

5. Sincerity is vital to the process of consultation.
Without sincerity there could be no effective consultation.
Each person speaks openly and frankly, in a loving, kind and courteous manner.
Sincerity is moderated or modified by wisdom and tact.

6. Purity of motive:
There must be no hidden agenda.
We speak with pure intent. Our hearts are open and our motives are pure.

7. Courtesy.
We exercise utmost courtesy to everyone present at the consultation session. Courtesy is expressed both verbally as well as physically, in our body language.

8. Switch off your “No” mechanism:
Switch on your mechanism for Co-creativity, and engage in consultation as a form of co-creativity. Instead of saying “No, but…” or even “Yes, but ……”.  Please use the mode of  “Yes, and…” (This is called the mode of Co-creativity)

9. Unity is more important than asserting your position as being the Truth.
When two people each insist that they are right and the other wrong, both are failing in spiritual understanding; both are at fault.

It is better for a decision to be imperfect than disunity and discord appears within the group. Incorrect decisions can be rectified, but without unity, nothing good and enduring can be achieved. To be united is more important than to be correct or perfectly right. Real truth is never against unity. Real truth is based on spiritual understanding.

10. A decision arrived at after full consultation becomes a common decision of the whole group.
There are no minority positions and no dissenting opinions, no protest votes. All members of the group abide by the collective decision. All strive to implement the common decision in a spirit of love and unity.

11. Self-control is exercised in respect of the topic and the time elapsed during consultation.
Each member of the group is a self-monitoring chairperson. In order to facilitate the search for truth, the direction and purpose of the consultation is entrusted to a Facilitator. The latter is not a chief, not an authoritarian or dictatorial leader.

12. The spark of truth emerges from a clash of opinions:
Opinions may clash, but the personalities and characters of the members of the group are not supposed to be  involved. Detachment is vital to this spiritual discipline.

We humbly recommend the use of the art of Consultation, as outlined above, in your family, with friends, relatives and colleagues. Use it as often as you can, in all aspects of your life.  And encourage others to use this tool too.

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Invitation – Yaakov Scheid

Dear friends of NACAD,

We are planning to devote the NELSOZ (NACAD Experiential Learning Session on Zoom) scheduled for May 22nd to an exploration of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict because the timing is close to the 70th anniversary of the Nakba and Israel’s establishment.  Palestinians’ reluctance to engage in dialogue is certainly understandable because the talking that has gone on for a long time has not produced any positive change on the ground, and this conflict seems rather intractable.  The idea that we can’t prompt some change in the bigger arena is very frustrating.  However, we do have control over the dynamics of the periodic online Authentic Dialogue practice circles we are calling NELSOZ.  So, despite the lack of movement in the bigger arena, if you believe that Authentic, people-to-people Dialogue (AD) is at least part of the way forward, we hope you join us on May 22nd for an exploration of Palestinian-Jewish/Israeli sentiments from an AD perspective.   

 Here are some questions for that session:  Where do we start?  What’s preventing any movement forward?  Can we overcome these hurdles at least within our limited NELSOZ circle?   How?  How can we help each other feel a bit safer so dialogue can take place, despite enormous odds?

 We hope that a respectful and calm examination of why we are collectively stuck might bring us some insights.  After all, if we are a small group of Palestinians and Jews/Israelis working to create new communication norms, who knows – maybe there is something to learn here if we see ourselves as a tiny microcosm of this larger community suffering from this seemingly intractable issue.   That’s the question we can focus on, at least initially – what can we do with the miniscule amount of power we actually do have.   Our surroundings may be shouting a message of powerlessness at us but being powerless is a choice.  Let’s see if in our limited NELSOZ circle we can opt to own our power.

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How We Deal with Conflict – Hugh Smiley

Here are 4 questions re you and your relationship with conflict that you might ponder before our Zoom sessions:

• How do you view, define, understand conflict?
• What did you learn about conflict in your family of origin (or from the person/people         who raised you)?
• How do you deal with conflict when you feel – grounded, balanced, happy, calm,                confident?
• How do you deal with conflict when you feel – ungrounded, anxious, out of balance,           nervous, tired, frustrated, depressed, lack of confidence?

Conflict is best seen as an opportunity to understand our differences, since that’s when conflict usually arises – when we see something differently.

• the 5 responses to conflict:                                         1. avoid (run away), 2. predominate, 3. submit,           4. compromise, 5. collaborate

Verbal Experiments in mindfulness:                       In a mindful state, notice what happens when you hear the following words …
  “All of your feelings are welcome here.”                 “What you have to say is important.”

Look around the room and identify the person you’re most intrigued by, scared of, relaxed with, etc. Observe how these reactions manifest in your body, feelings and thinking patterns.

Hugh is creator of the Korason Method for Authentic Voice & Dialogue. hughsmiley.livecords.com

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Spring Returns and the Phoenix Rises

Every year, right around Naw-Ruz (‘New-Day’, the Vernal Equinox), for a few days the angle of the setting sun pours a luminous angel-orb across my living-room floor and through the bedroom door. Spring Equinox brings to mind the shamanic “dream-hunters” who learn to deftly slip between the tectonic plates of truth and deception to weave the light that illumines our way. A powerful time for transformation!

And a time of renewal after late winter fasting when the heart, somewhat less fettered by  demands of the material world, can fly, feathered and free, from the nether realms to lands of light and vision in search of  ‘the Beloved’.

The mind and the heart live within and can inform each other. When we pause to listen deeply to the dialogue between these lovers, what can we hear?  What is the wound that can be healed?  What is the wise sound that can be heard?                                                     And  …what is the Beloved for you, and how flies your bird?

“Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.”    – Rumi  

– Hugh  Smiley         hughsmiley.livecords.com

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Living to Maximize Connection with Each Other and Earth in The Citizens’ Century

by Elizabeth “Libby” Traubman, B.A., M.S.W. & Lionel “Len” Traubman, D.D.S., M.S.D

Our 50 years of marriage has included three decades of helping diverse people — sometimes entrenched enemies — sit down face-to-face and finally connect in successful, authentic Dialogue.

This listening-to-learn often does magic, with courageous participants experiencing that “an enemy is one whose story we have not heard.”

As elders (we’re told), in this citizen-drive “public peace process” we’re learning and in awe of the power of Internet social media technology and distance-facilitated Dialogue to accomplish similar heart connections that humanize and equalize one another.

One example we experience is the ongoing global gathering by Zoom video technology facilitated by the New Andaluz Centre for Authentic Dialogue — https://nacadialog.com/nelsoz/

We two describe our motive to take part in these live video circles in the words of theologian and visionary Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955):

“Driven by the forces of love, the fragments of the world seek each other so that the world may come into being.”

 Teilhard also had words for what happens inside of us — and seemingly in others — who return to one another in this online connectivity:

“The day will come when,  after harnessing space, the winds, the tides, gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And, on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”

So what do we recommend to another – young or old – to keep a fire one’s life worth living and giving?  It’s best described in the closing minutes of our 2017 commencement address at Notre Dame de Namur University here in California:

Now About Your Life

(Len)  2017 graduates, this next epoch of your adult life means less dependency and more initiating; taking less and more giving.  But giving what?  We’ve illustrated what you already know ­ what strengthens families and ends war: Everyone has a story that needs, even cries, to be listened to.  Unheard and disregarded, very good, loving women, men, and youth can become hopeless, desperate, even violent, even terrorists.  This is preventable and curable ­ by you ­ if today you can choose to become a great listener.  As the first one in the room to listen, you have the power to change the relationship. 

The Wisdom Keepers Have Had It Right

(Libby)  Days ago Pope Francis said in his surprise TED Talk that the only future worth building includes everyone.

Fifty years of marriage and meeting people have shown us that the indigenous traditions and most religions at their roots have had it right:  we are one ­ totally interconnected and interdependent with all people and with Earth herself.  There is no individual survival.

Abraham, Sarah, and the Hebrews had it right.  The creator is one and we the created are one ­ family forever.

The Prophets of Judaism had it right that we are meant to go up the mountain to become our best selves ­ together.

Jesus of Nazareth had it right, to love in every situation and to include everyone, excluding no one.

And Islam has it right.  The Persian poet, Hafiz-e Shirazi, reminds us that “fear is the cheapest room in the house.”  Do not be manipulated by fear or swayed from helping to create global community.

The Muslim Sufi Jalal ad-Din Rumi says:  “Out beyond right-doing and wrong-doing there is a field.  I’ll meet you there.”  He was inviting everyone.

The Invitation:  So now Len and I invite you to say “yes” to inevitable opportunities that will come to you. 

•Yes, to dedicate yourselves to bringing people together. 

•Yes, to moving into experience ­ creating safe places of listening that dignify everyone.

•Yes, to create your great, new Culture of Connection ­ no less than a Renaissance of Communication across America and around Earth. 

Class of 2017, I have this final question for you ­ your final pop-quiz. Can you do this?  Can you become the artisans of communication, the great listeners humankind is waiting for?  Can you?

Thank you.       Thank you for listening!

 Libby & Len Traubman live in San Mateo, California USA, and are co-founders of the 25-year-old Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue preparing for it 299th meeting and still learning and initiating together.

The video and full text of their commencement address is at http://traubman.igc.org/ndnu2017address.pdf

More about the deep roots of the Dialogue is at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish-Palestinian_Living_Room_Dialogue_Group

They get e-mail at LTraubman@igc.org

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Sound and Silence: Authentic Dialogue’s Building Blocks

Watching David Suzuki’s “Sonic Magic: The Wonder and Science of Sound”, I was struck (like a bell) by the ferocious shift in big city ‘soundscapes’ over the last century. The ringing of church bells, once heard 40 blocks away, now travels only half a block, drowned out by the din of traffic and industrial noise. ‘Mindscapes’ too, reel with the internal racket of anxiety and stress. Seems like everyone deeply needs to talk and be heard, but who is there to listen?

OM in Sanskrit. The dot at the top symbolizes the silence after the sounding.

OM (or AUM) : the world’s favourite yoga chant means something like ‘Sound of the Infinite’. Mantram (repetition of specific words and sounds to still the mind) is well-defined in India, but has been practiced in traditional societies worldwide. Medicine People chant with drums to help clients on their healing path. Canada’s First Nations elders lead sacred songs helping transform trauma (inherited from the painful legacy of racism and residential schools) into confidence, freedom from addiction and peace of mind.

 

When mindfulness meets with utterance, the magic happens:

OMMM is the pebble,

silence – the still surface of the pond,

sound waves with their data – the ripples,

aural study of the ripples – the gateway to understanding (noticing what happens in the present moment in mindfulness).

Many creation stories, e.g. Hindu, Christian Viking, state that in the beginning was the Word (logos, vibration, frequency). Even physicists talk about the Big Bang, not the Big Paintbrush. This connection between creativity and production of sound out of primor- dial Silence is tantalizing to those of us curious about creating our purpose and with tools (ears, voice and other) to listen and utter. The throat chakra (energy centre), ‘organ of ut- terance’, lies between heart and head, so provides a key to vibrational unity and conso- nant balance and health. Simple exercises combining these elements can be extremely powerful for self-awareness and self-healing, building new neural pathways in our brains and psyches.

80% of sensory intake in contemporary society is visual, but the auditory is finally threat- ening to give the former a run for its money. The emerging field of neuro-science demonstrates how music unlocks areas of the brain to promote learning, healing from trauma, various medical conditions as well as enhancing communication.

The ‘Naked Ear’.  Before the Big Bang ...

…was Silence (the calm before the storm), we might surmise. Have you experienced the “music of the spheres”, “audible life current”, or sound of silence when relaxing in a very quiet place? There are teachings which encourage us to develop a subtle listening faculty to discern these subtle, exquisite melodies and rhythms not heard by the physical hearing faculty. Finland now markets itself to potential tourists as a quiet land where not much happens. It’s working! Whether choosing or being forced, many are reaching out not with arms but ears to find, often in Nature, the embrace of quietude in order to simplify, soothe and heal.

Conscious attention to sound as well as silence provides an effective tool for stress man- agement and alleviating depression and burn-out (the modern plagues). Sound can stimu- late, but also relay safety and emotional nourishmnet (imagine a mother singing to her infant). As contemporary adults, how can we take in, also then give out (through our words, sounds and songs) that which will heal, not hurt …soothe, not singe?

From Healing Power of Sound (HPS) to Authentic Voice and Dialogue

In the evolution of HPS we can take a journey through stages of increasing application:

1. Silence – being comfortable, still and listening deeply to the ‘Audible Life Stream’ or inner sound.

2. Sound – listening and producing all manner of sound: noise music, talk, etc.

3. Voice – discovering and cultivating the ‘authentic voice’, both natural physical voice and voicing our truth.

4. Dialogue – taking this voice into conversation, consultation, communication in general and cultivating authentic dialogue in relationship and groups.

Listening globally – chanting locally

Thanks to the internet and YouTube, we get front row centre seats at the great planetary concert hall, can learn the secrets of sound and chakras, vibration, binaural study aids, the quiet language of plants and listen to the growing choir of sound and voice gurus. Mongolian overtone singing, once only heard in its homeland, now is enjoyed through concerts and workshops everywhere. Meet-up groups as well as spiritual communities offer study and practice of the power of sound, voice and chanting as well as deep listening within the context of mindfulness meditation.

Through all this perhaps we can regain sacred healing ground, purifying perception by rememering how to hear through the ears of a child while singing with the throat of a sage.

Hugh Smiley, creator of the Korason Method (KM) for Authentic Voice & Dialogue practices psychotherapy and teaches KM  online and around the world. 

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Transcending Divides – Yaakov Schneid

What would it take for two people from the opposite sides of a divide to talk with one another so they can have a genuine, respectful encounter?  The world has been full of so many divides – violent ones involving the Tutsi and Hutu in Rwanda, Israelis and Palestinians, and non violent ones with Spaniards and Catalans being one example.  All of these call for healing and coming to terms with “The Other.”  It all starts with understanding, and understanding – getting to know and appreciate the world of The Other – is difficult.  Reaching out to The Other is something few of us ever do or want to do.  Seldom is there constructive contact between people across a divide, and the divisions remain solid, often for generations or even centuries. 

 The reasons for this lack of connection are obvious.  Most of us have only a superficial knowledge of the person on the other side, an understanding that is immersed in our own ideas, preconceived notions and prejudices – the narrative we have about this group.  Especially where there has been conflict between two groups or nations, there is a deep seated, unshakable feeling that people on one side have at their core – that the other group has done us violence – we have been murdered, wronged or dispossessed by them (sometimes this is a sentiment shared by both sides).  The suffering we have endured because of the other group is indescribable – we cannot forgive and we will never forget.  Those of us who in some way feel victimized by the other group have been holding on to this narrative for a long time, and it has become part of our identity.  We don’t question our view of The Other.  Rather, we invest constantly in keeping it alive and reaffirming it.  First, we avoid any contact with The Other – the idea of talking with members of the other group and getting acquainted with them is akin to betrayal of our own people, even if members of the other group live on the other side of the same town or village.   We constantly stoke the fires of our own ignorance and even hatred of The Other through what we consume – what we read, the people we talk with, even what we hear at our places of worship.   This is how divides are perpetuated and become intractable. 

 But what if we pause for a moment to consider that maybe this narrative is harmful first of all to ourselves, that hanging on to old enmities is keeping us feeling embittered and victimized, that this feeling is not helping us solve the large problems facing humanity, that maybe the time has come to move beyond it?  This immediately brings up a set of questions: how do you do this, where do you start?   Reaching out to people on the Other Side takes resolve and courage.  We have to (at least temporarily) be willing to put aside our own narrative and biases and approach The Other with respect.  We have to be willing to listen, and that means being ready to take in that person’s pain.  That’s very hard, because if you truly take in that person’s pain, you are realizing that in his eyes you’ve wronged him.  We also have to be able to speak to our own pain clearly and without recrimination.  Fortunately, there are examples of people who have done this and are doing this.  Yet the ability to talk constructively and work to overcome differences is rare.  This is not a well known set of practices that are easily available.  If we see our mission as one of healing differences, one way we can do this is by disseminating this art of intentionally approaching The Other and making it more accessible. 

 I am writing with an invitation: let’s start understanding this process of reconciling with The Other with ourselves.  We already know a lot about dialogue and listening.  If we want to help others have constructive meetings across divides and heal, let’s start by sharing what we know.   In that spirit, here are some questions.  The intent behind these questions is to “unpack” what it takes for two groups with a disagreement (or worse) to talk with one another.  That’s why these questions are rather detailed.  Whatever you can contribute – however many questions you can answer, will help us shed more light on this area.

• Do you know of examples where people have deliberately spent time talking with the people they have considered The Other in order to bring about more understanding or possibly reconciliation?  Have you been involved in such conversations yourself?

 • How was contact between the two groups made?  Was it initiated by one group or maybe one individual?  How did this group approach the other group?  Was this a smooth process or were there some “bumps” as contact was being made?  If there were challenges, how were those handled?  Did the challenges continue to “hang in the air” not fully resolved? 

 • When it came to the actual dialogue, what took place?  Was a specific approach or methodology used to assist in the conversations?  How were emotionally charged times or anger handled?  Was this one meeting or a series?  If this was a series of encounters, over what length of time did they take place?  How many people were involved?

 • What about the results or outcomes?  Was progress made – was there an easing of tensions, better or deeper understanding of The Other (and of oneself) over time?  Would the participants call this experience a success (or not)? 

 • Was there a sustainable change in the people who were involved?  If they were able to form a different view of The Other and their relationship, did this perception last?  Have the two groups attempted to maintain contact, or did each group go back to its side of the divide and retrench?

 There are probably more than enough questions here, and these will no doubt lead to yet others.

 As you probably appreciate, I am posing this invitation and questions with the hope that with your participation, we can begin building shared knowledge that can later spread beyond our immediate group and be instrumental in healing discord.   This is a good time to reconnect with Margaret Mead’s powerful message:

 “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

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Inner Dialogue through Music

Keys to Harmony by Hugh Smiley

Over the years I have enjoyed applying my knowledge and experience as a psychotherapist and teacher to a healing journey through music. This synergy can help students of the piano and voice develop creativity, freedom and harmony, not only in their music but also in daily life and relationships.

Integrating the practice of mindfulness into the learning process, areas of the brain which have been semi-dormant are invited into full participation in a dialogue among our parts – outer (body) and inner (emotions, mind, soul). Then another level of ‘authentic dialogue’ – between pianist & piano, singer & voice – is explored. ‘Deep listening’ is absolutely necessary for both artist and wayfarer in the path of personal healing and transformation.

The vibrational resonance that emerges helps connect the dots, creating a coherent narrative. This provides a reliable and stable state of mind from which we can feel confident to improvise and venture forth into expanded paradigms of perception and expression. As conditioning and limiting belief systems (attitudes) shift to more nourishing and supportive ones, so does the ability and relationship with the instrument. So there is a cross-fertilization, a harmonic relationship (to use a musical term) between the mutually-enhancing music and personal growth. It’s liberating and exhilarating!

ARCT (Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto) at age 17, a small claim to fame is that I was awarded the same Viggo Kihl scholar-ship won by Glenn Gould some years earlier. With a classical background, I now enjoy jazz, flamenco and ‘world music’ idioms. Occasionally I compose short piano works in my own style and sing flamenco with the Trio Anda Luz. Over 40 years, I’ve developed the Korason Method for Authentic Voice & Dialogue now taught in various countries, and with others, have co-created the New AndaLuz Centre for Authentic Dialogue. Graduate of the Peace and Conflict Studies program at U. of Toronto, am a Certified Practitioner and Teacher of the Hakomi Method of Somatic Psychotherapy & Mindfulness-Based Self-Study. 

hughsmiley.com

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Flamenco for PTSD

Version 3

Tarek (guitarra), Tania (baile), Hugo (cante & piano)

Related to quotes from the development of the concept for NACAD, Trio Anda Luz has formed in Toronto. We are multi-cultural: Tania Hernandez (Mexico), Tarek Ghriri (Syria), Hugh Smiley (Canada) and, as in Authentic Dialogue, we co-create (our own flamenco style; there is no leader). Our project includes offering flamenco as a healing modality to help children of refugees here suffering from PTSD.

It is hoped this local project will be just the first of many inspired by the principles of Authentic Dialogue and the goals of NACAD. Our virtual community has the opportunity to dialogue about such projects as well as explore the meaning of and practice Authentic Dialogue at our biweekly Zoom sessions. If you’re interested in taking part, please contact info@NACADialog.com.

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Prickles and Peace – Hugh Smiley

This photo of my living room cactus and buddha-statue on a sunny afternoon inspires a possible sequence for getting to the informed and compassionate action required for healing and transforming the gargantuan backlog of accumulated and self-perpetuating trauma in our human race (whew – all that in one breath!).

TraumaPeace

All people have trauma – part of the human condition. As we heal it, thereby lowering emotional and mental “noise”, there emerges a stillness, quiet and comfort within the psyche. When we share this peace with others through …going slower, compassionate listening, trusting the inner wisdom of each one & each group, detachment from outcomes and patience with ‘just being’ in the present moment …then together – in our groups and communities – we are in a good space to start healing trauma on a societal and global scale.

Mindfulness, meditation, prayer, authentic dialogue and open-hearted engagement with diverse people & groups are my current stepping stones towards this ideal.

hughsmiley.com

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