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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Principles of Authentic Dialogue

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The 40+ attributes, which NACAD has already recognized valuable for AUTHENTIC DIALOGUE, provide a framework addressing issues in any dialogue situation. They can be grouped under the following interdependent principles:

Self-Awareness: key to Mastery of Inner Resonance (body, mind, spirit) and prerequisite of AD. Through self-discovery (patterns, beliefs and emotional entanglements) we move towards self-empowerment and genuinely lived values, principles, passion and purpose.

Accessing the Essence: getting to the core of the matter; openness of the heart; letting go of protection, pretence and manipulation.

Representation of the True Self: courage to make mistakes, take responsibility and allowing vulnerability, while allowing degrees of selflessness (letting go of control). Being in the right mind set.

Genuine Expression of Love: Emotional Intelligence and the language of the Heart. With respect, tolerance and open heartedness we recognize and strengthen capacities in one another.

Independent Power of Judgement: Decisiveness, individual reasoning, intelligence, intuition, expressing in a productive manner.

Key to Shifting Perspectives: Curiosity, creativity and the ability to reframe opens to new possibilities, transparency and expands the field of “vision” and understanding

Enhancing the Change Process: Tuning in and using the energetic movement of the moment; with amplified perception of truth, change becomes possible.

Cross Cultural Collaboration: Collective experience beyond political borders; mutual inquiry and commitment; understanding relationship and the mechanisms of connection, differences and belonging.

Solution-Oriented and Transformational: the focus is on strengthening and restoring relationship(s), amicable agreements or settlements in conflict situations, establishing critical thinking, transcending entanglements misunderstandings …   To be able to live in dignity ….. commitment to values and virtues. Imperative skill to successfully build and maintain relationships.

           – Bettina                      www.bettinaclarkcoaching.com

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Our Authentic Voice in Psychotherapy and in Dialogue

The human vocal apparatus is part of the body and much more. We create (or destroy) our worlds through words we speak and sing, sounds we utter. Different qualities of the human ‘voicetone’ such as pitch, volume, rhythm, speed and intensity influence human interaction from the very beginning of life. As perceptive and mindful ‘NACADians’, wishing to participate in Authentic Dialogue (AD), we notice both the verbal and non-verbal communication transmitted through the others’ voices as well as our own.

Version 2

Clients too can be very attentive to their therapist’s voicetone during a session.  Having worked with voice and mindfulness for years, I am conscious and sometimes self- conscious of how my voice might be sounding to a client. On delivering a nourishing affirmation during am experiment in mindfulness, is it slow and deep enough, warm and supportive enough, clear and understandable, resonant, etc.?  And most important of all, is it coherent and authentic …deeply connected with who and where I am in the moment.

(In the following Rumi poem, I’ve exchanged the word “faces” with “voices”.)

Be clear like a mirror

reflecting nothing.

Be clean of pictures and the worry

that comes with images.

Gaze into what is not ashamed

or afraid of any truth.

Contain all human voices in your own

without any judgment of them.

Be pure emptiness.

“What is inside that?”, you ask.

Silence” is all I can say.

The healing power of sound. The first sense to kick in in the embryo and last to kick out at death.Listening is at least as important as talking and there is no authentic dialogue without it. copy

So, as compassionately-present and supportive therapists (or ‘authentic dialogicians’), how can our voices embody both “emptiness” (non-judgement) and “silence” (clean detachment) as well as “all human voices”?  Where do our own personality and character become embedded in our voice?  Does this colour what clients hear, and how might this influence the therapy (dialogue)? Does our “session voice” differ from our “regular” voice?  Experiments have shown that clients can appreciate having both a warm and supportive “mother-like voice tone” as well as a clear and determined “father-like voice tone” as part of their process. To what extent does our voice change during the different stages of a session and the various states of mind we visit therein? If and when we choose to disclose something about ourselves, does voicetone modulate?

Over 40 years I’ve developed the the Korason Method of Authentic Voice & Dialogue (KM) to enhance a perceptual environment within which we explore our relationship to our own voice and how the latter manifests in our work with clients (or in our dialogues and relationships).

KM helps create a textured sense of the concept of “somatic psychotherapy and mindfulness-based, assisted self-study”.  Simple and dynamic KM techniques can be practiced at home to further the discovery and cultivation of the natural, authentic voice. To be able to speak one’s truth and to have the right vehicle to do so, not only feels comfortable and confident, but carries power, purpose, inspiration into our expression and communication with others. And for those who are goal-oriented, it’s effective and gets results.

– Hugh               www.hughsmiley.com

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Antecedentes

New AndaLuz Centro para un Diálogo Auténtico (NACAD)

Un lugar para aprender y enseñar métodos dinámicos, progresistas y efectivos para el diálogo y la consulta en los campos de la resolución de conflictos, toma de decisiones y la curación del trauma. El concepto se encuentra en su fase inicial y se les invita cordialmente a contribuir al desarrollo del Centro.

El historial de resolución de problemas graves a través del diálogo es decepcionante. Cumbres caros son a menudo nada más que oportunidades para tomar fotografías. A veces, los participantes salen de la mesa más enojados que cuando llegaron. El arte de la escucha empática es mayormente desconocido y ausente. Las malas decisiones que no son fundadas en el diálogo auténtico, están costando miles de millones, mientras que sentimientos hostiles o conflictos continúan.

logonacad

Una buena comunicación es fundamental para la resolución de problemas, la celebración de la vida y el progreso de la civilización. Cuando surge un conflicto entre los departamentos de una organización, entre grupos étnicos o culturales, o entre naciones, el diálogo auténtico puede proporcionar un enfoque esencial y poderoso para resolver estos desafíos.

Algunos de los atributos clave del Diálogo Auténtico o de las habilidades para su mejoramiento son: atención plena, confianza, no juzgar, el arte de escuchar, respeto, reciprocidad, imparcialidad, transparencia de corazón y mente y el firme propósito de llevar las palabras a su aplicación práctica. Esta lista puede ampliarse y profundizarse a medida que un discurso abajo-arriba esté evolucionando entre los participantes interesados. Vea más aquí.

La idea de un Centro para el Diálogo Auténtico echó raíces primeramente en El Cairo en junio de 2006. Había recibido una beca de la Universidad de Toronto para una investigación sobre los métodos de diálogo y toma de decisiones utilizados por diversas ONGs egipcias e internacionales, como el ICA (Instituto para la Cultura Egipto Asuntos), la Fundación Aga Khan y la Institución Al-Shehab. La Embajada de Canadá invitó a dos docenas de líderes de diversos sectores de la sociedad egipcia a una lluvia de ideas durante una cena en la residencia del Embajador para discutir la propuesta de establecer un Centro. La respuesta fue esperanzador y entusiasta, y como ubicación se consideró un oasis o un lugar costero en Egipto

El nombre ‘New AndaLuz’ se refiere a un período que duraba siglos, cuando Andalucía (Al Andalús en árabe) en el sur de España fue el lugar de encuentro de los más grandes eruditos, científicos, filósofos, poetas, arquitectos y artistas de todo el Mediterráneo y Oriente Medio. Córdoba, Granada y Sevilla se convirtieron en centros magnéticos de aprendizaje y enseñanza. Una intensiva fertilización cruzada de culturas iba de la mano con una relativa armonía entre las grandes poblaciones católicas, musulmanas y judías.

Si un tal grado de paz y creatividad entre las religiones fue posible hace unos mil años, cuando el resto de Europa yacía sumido en la oscuridad de la Edad Media, imagínese lo que podría ser posible hoy en día con la amplia disponibilidad de comunicación, información, ciencia y tecnología.

La visión de NACAD implica que diversos grupos (empresas, departamentos gubernamentales, religiones, ONGs, profesionales de la salud, educadores, negociadores, grupos comunitarios, etc.) aprenderán de facilitadores maestros los métodos exitosos del diálogo, luego regresarán e implementarán en su trabajo la concientización y las habilidades que han adquirido. De esta manera, las habilidades “irán y se multiplicarán”. Algunos de estos métodos son: el Método Hakomi para la aplicación de una atención plena, la Comunicación No-Violenta de Marshall Rosenberg, el Método Korason para una voz y un diálogo auténticos, Enseñanzas Tradicionales Indígenas (ver más). Junto a éstas, NACAD enseñará y aplicará nuevos y mejores métodos para el tratamiento de trauma y trastornos de estrés postraumático (PTSD – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) que han ido surgiendo a lo largo de la evolución de la neurobiología y la psicoterapia.

El alcance del Centro será internacional, así como regional. Habrá una fertilización cruzada de enfoques para la mediación, resolución de problemas y los procesos de deliberación. Un facilitador noruego podría acompañar a un grupo de 20 trabajadores sociales del Sudán, mientras que un facilitador del Sudán talvéz trabaje con el personal de una ONG canadiense que lucha en un callejón sin salida. Cada cultura tiene su propia sabiduría tradicional y la habilidad para resolver problemas.

La música, el lenguaje universal, tendrá un papel que desempeñar. El campo emergente de la neurosciencia social demuestra cómo la música desbloquea áreas del cerebro para promover el aprendizaje, la curación del trauma y otras condiciones, así como la mejora de la comunicación. El arte flamenco, una fusión de las diversas culturas de Al Andalús, a través de su improvisación, su expresión apasionada y la intensa interconexión de bailarina, cantante e instrumentista proporciona un vehículo ideal para mejorar el diálogo auténtico con un sabor andaluz.

Los primeros pasos en el desarrollo de NACAD incluyen el cultivo de una comunidad virtual de interés, a continuación la formación de una junta de asesores o “think-tank” para guiar el desarrollo del proyecto cuando entre en un período de siembra durante el cual se encuentra la financiación y se elige la estructura legal más eficiente (algunas ideas posibles: con fines de lucro, sin fines de lucro, un ala de cada uno, etc.)

Si se siente atraído a este concepto y le gustaría ser parte de su evolución, he aquí algunas areas sobre las cuales podría comentar:

• Mandato básico     • Estructura     • Financiamiento

Su participación es muy apreciada. No dude en mandarme un email a hugh@hughsmiley.com.

Sinceramente   – Hugh

Únese a nuestra comunidad virtual NACAD en Facebook.

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Cultural Competency with Authentic Dialogue – an Impossible Task?

Let me start looking at this broad subject from one small angle. As member of a core group of multinational pioneers for NACAD, I experience occasionally an uncomfortable feeling, when I simply do not get what we were just talking about. Not that I don’t understand the words. I don’t get the gist, or deeper meaning, the cultural nuance in the words just spoken.

With some previous education in mindfulness and a deep appreciation of my dialogue partners, in general I do feel at ease in these moments, yet my body still gives me clues: I am frowning, moving nervously on my chair, taking a deep breath.  I hear an inner voice talking to me, something along the lines of “So, you thought you were fluent in English, huh?!”. My breath gets shallow, I fiddle with my hair, I sigh.

Beoming aware of those signs, I learned to use them to get out of these uncomfortable situations. For example when ‘the Pleaser’ in me tries to convince me not to say anything and instead pretend to have understood, while ignoring the feeling of losing connection and becoming fragmented, I have learned to notice the bugger (“Here she is again!”).  Self-referencing these signals gives me tools to step back into the conversation.

I allow vulnerability while opening my heart and express what needs to be expressed. Why? Because our group has a mutual and intentional commitment of non-judgment and being in an exploratory, open, co-creative relationship. And this with two very individual Canadian men, and me as a German-born woman who has moved for the past 20 years all over the globe, and among the three of us, seemingly different religious affiliations.

We have agreed to be in a dynamic learning relationship, practicing inclusiveness and resilience based on the art of listening.  Sounds good, right?  Too good to be true?  The reality is pretty “normal”, we are still learning. Though challenging, it provides time and space to practice all these wonderful attributes of Authentic Dialogue (AD) – at least for me. As we are continuously networking, sharing our experiences and vision, there is a work in progress – learning by doing – and great potential to create more and more ripples in our community. We are learning and evolving AD as we go!

Perhaps you have some experiences in this field!  Is there a great story or perspective you want to share regarding some aspect of AD ?   This blog is an ideal platform to explore and write about it. We are interested in how Authentic Dialogue can improve:

• understanding of behaviours in a cultural context

• active listening with a global mindset and enhanced perception

• developing a broader social intelligence leading to mutual commitment

• practicing inclusiveness despite disagreements

Looking forward to reading your contribution to this exciting project.

   – Bettina                www.bettinaclarkcoaching.com

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The Nature of Conflict – Peter Paul

The English language is very malleable; incongruities and nuances often baffle those whose mother tongue it is not. For instance, the words nice and silly have transposed their meanings over time. First names have changed genders – Ashley was a male name not that long ago. Oftentimes, words are hijacked as euphemisms for provocative, controversial or even sinister ideas.

Conflict once denoted disagreements, differences of opinion, alternate points of view. Nowadays it connotes warfare, friction, argument, non-conformist behaviour, disruption, even imminent violence. These negative connotations blind us to the reality that conflict is a natural, healthy, and even positive human interaction. The occurrence of conflict may reveal certain realities:

The right to free speech: disagreeing with another’s opinion and having the means to express this without fear of persecution or intimidation is a freedom that not everyone enjoys.

The rights of the individual: having differing opinions or perspectives represents a culture where individuality and uniqueness are respected or upheld.

Equality: having both means and opportunity to disagree directly with the party represents some form of parity regardless of gender, race, orientation, or religion.

The real challenge of conflict resides in being unable to resolve it. Impartiality or objectivity is unrealistic when reason and rationale are overwhelmed by emotion. That the parties possess the appropriate conflict resolution skills might also be a poor assumption. We often see these mismatches play out: one person is seeking acknowledgment and affirmation while the other is listening only to formulate a solution; one party seeks genuine resolution while the other refuses to listen or responds in anger.

Creating the conditions for authentic dialogue is an opportunity to resolve conflict profoundly and perhaps even permanently. Using a facilitated approach allows others to pass through doors that they are unable to open for themselves. Some considerations:

Third party facilitation. A resource that is absent of bias and possesses the requisite skills to remain that way throughout. The facilitator should also be involved in both the design and delivery of the resolution process.

Active listening: modelling and emulation. The facilitator establishes a different tone by initially modelling the active listening behaviours and mentoring the parties in conflict into emulating and eventually adopting this practice into the dialogue.

Common ground exploration. The facilitator explores and maps the edges of commonality between the parties that reflects and amplifies empathy rather than distrust. Finding this Venn diagram is often difficult; sharing it is both powerful and necessary.

Intervention and adaptation. As easy as these words are to write or say, practicing them is quite another matter. To a hammer, everything looks like a nail. To a facilitator, every nail requires a different hammer and not every nail needs a hammer.

Creating the conditions for authentic dialogue may seem unlikely or even untenable when positions have become entrenched, when olive branches are met with anger or derision, and when time has built higher or thicker walls. Let’s not forget how malleable we can be if we choose. Perhaps one day the word conflict might become a synonym for harmony.

© Peter S. Paul

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NACAD Brainstorming

We are excited to be gathering 16 people from four countries in Toronto on the weekend of May 13-15, 2016 to brainstorm on the NACAD proposal for a Centre for Authentic Dialogue.

Bettina Clark, Yaakov Schneid and Hugh Smiley will host this groundbreaking mini-conference which will explore the mandate, structure and funding possibilities for the New AndaLuz Centre for Authentic Dialogue.

MayNACAD.pages

 

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