It was summer 2015 inside the Nicaraguan Jungle on Isla de Ometepe. I was sitting at the base of a volcano where the spiritual, earth-based healing community Inanitah is located; gentle people, gentle nature, calmness, peace. This was the birthplace for Peace Elicits & The Culture of Many Peaces. To talk about Peace Elicits means to talk about the personal story that led me all the way to Nicaragua. It is this personal context that embeds the initiation of this project and makes it transparent and graspable. It is a story about struggle and a clear moment of decision for transformation.
Before I arrived at Inanitah I found myself in a deep personal crisis. I was stranded in Central America and faced those elementary questions of life: Where is my place? What is the meaning of my life? What are the actions for me to take here on earth? In short: What is my calling? In school, in university and through the jobs I previously had, I was taught that achievements and success are the ‘values’ that matter. Those ‘values’, when absorbed and repeated thoroughly as we can see quite obviously in our capitalistic world, become part of a predominantly cognitive, one-dimensional picture of the self. At Inanitah I experienced a social space in which I could let go of this one-dimensional mask. A space in which I could express and live the many dimensions of human nature, as an emotional, spiritual, physical and collective being. Spirituality, body-work and group-work were daily practices in this community. By giving those needs space to be expressed I slowly began to reconnect to myself and to find a way out of my struggles. It was only at the end of my stay in Nicaragua that I realised that I had already begun to live the answer of my initial question in regards to my calling.
The Moment of Decision to Create Peace Elicits
By living my human nature’s various aspects, I gradually felt more and more in harmony with myself. I understood that connecting to myself and to the people in my life in this authentic and holistic manner is what my heart and my soul are really longing for. With only a couple of weeks left before my return to Europe, it all came down to this single moment with myself. This moment of clarity in which time seems to be put on hold in order to listen to the world’s, the cosmos’ or whoever’s calling: “Am I willing to create those collective spaces for authentic encounters by myself and in cooperation with my colleagues and friends?”. My decision was clear even before this question arose.
After having returned home I shared my vision of creating those spaces, I call them Peace Elicits, with some good friends and colleagues from the MA Program in Peace. Since we, the alumni of the UNESCO Chair’s Peace Studies, are familiar with body and group-oriented methods and with values like safe space for authentic encounters, transformative and group-processes, we share a certain understanding – a certain culture – of mutual engagement that is of great benefit when starting such a project.
Four months later we met for a brainstorm-weekend and soon started to conceptualise, to plan and to organise. Today we have a beautiful young project.
Peace is the quality of how we relate.
With Peace Elicits we create those dedicated spaces for authentic encounter and continue to live and foster our precious Culture of Many Peaces. A culture that, unlike the mind-based values of our modern societies, is coined by togetherness, authenticity, personal and collective transformation and unfolding. With Peace Elicits we want to create possibilities to evoke the qualities of those beyond-cognitive-aspects of human nature and thus help to create a more holistic way of connecting to the personal self as well as to the collective. We believe that the quality of how we relate is key for conflict transformation on a personal and up to a societal level. This, of course, is also the quality for the perception of our many subjectively-sensed peaces.
Peace Elicits’ Mission & Structure
Being inspired by the Transrational Peace Philosophy, Peace Elicits build upon three pillars:
- Body-work. Since it is our body that hosts our entire being so to speak, it is a necessary instrument for experiencing a more holistic perception of the self. With the focus on body-oriented methods of elicitive conflict transformation we provide a foundation for the body to express and process.
- Collective. Via socialisation many of us have learned conflictive self-images. Since socialisation is always relational and furthermore a lifelong process, we can learn more holistic and harmonious relations with ourselves and with the collective simply by creating social environments that support this learning. Within the Culture of Many Peaces we form this collective to continuously create those safe social spaces.
- Regularity. On a daily basis, through our jobs, in universities and in modern society in general, many of us encounter those cognitive-focused and one-dimensional ways of engaging with ourselves and with fellow human beings. In order to learn and to strengthen more holistic and more peaceful perceptions of the self, continuous and regular encounters in an authentic manner support this process immensely.
With these three pillars we create little breaks from the daily mind-rush. Out of the initial brainstorm-team two branches formed. Structure-wise we have a branch for coordination – named the Peace-Elicits-Coordination-Team (PECO) – which coordinates, administers and conceptualises. Thus, a team that does all the important mind-work. The second branch is the organising one, filled by one or more changing individuals, forming the Peace-Elicits-Organising-Teams (OTs). Each OT is planning, organising, implementing and facilitating the respective upcoming Peace Elicits. The idea is to have many different OTs from many different places and backgrounds. There was a German OT recently; the next could be a Scandinavian OT or an international one – bringing in their topics, their methods, their favoured facilitators and so on. Ideally, there are even several OTs preparing several Peace Elicits at the same time. By passing on the ‘organising-hat’ so to speak, we are able to split traveling costs, responsibilities and workloads.
All Peace Elicits can be different in terms of methods, teams and locations. Yet, they are thought to be in the same vein, of building upon the three pillars and of following a certain wave of enabling transformation and unfolding.
Everyone who is part of an OT can experiment with newly acquired methods or with their own facilitation skills. Especially when talking about Elicitive Peace Workers, we see Peace Elicits as an ideal ground for continuous training of methods and skills, self-awareness, self-reflection and self-efficacy.
All Peace Elicits can be different in terms of methods, teams and locations. Yet, they are thought to be in the same vein, of building upon the three pillars and of following a certain wave of enabling transformation and unfolding. In order to also allow people from outside the ‘Many Peaces Bubble’ to join the Peace Elicits & The Culture of Many Peaces, the PECO set up a clever system of keeping a certain percentage of participants who are able to carry and pass on the Many Peaces Culture. Right now, the PECO is working on a homepage, it is finalising our philosophy in concept, and it is assisting the OTs in their preparations and is arranging a foundation of a registered NGO.
Collectively Creating a Movement
The weekend of April the 1st 2016 marked a heart-touching start of the Peace Elicits with a small group of fellow alumni. It was our first gathering and it was intended to take part within a small and trusted surrounding. Fifteen Elicitive Peace Workers and Scholars from six countries met for a full weekend in a warm and charming house named Ca’Stella in Southern Austria. The Peace Elicit’s topic was “Yin-Yang” and the dance with our feminine and masculine qualities. After having begun our collective journey with gentle methods for tuning in on Friday, Saturday was the main working part. With an intense and beautiful elicitive motion workshop, facilitated by Rosalie Kubny, we allowed physical and emotional realities to surface, to be expressed and to be transformed. Taking this quality as one of becoming more authentic in the way we express and show ourselves, this is the quality we started and continued to engage with over the entire weekend. As an important and intimate method we introduced the so called Transparency-Circle in order to allow cognitive integration. This circle’s main focus is to show up in an authentic way, to share and to make oneself transparent. It is for holding space mutually in the act of unfolding a truer, deeper, and more beautiful self that is inherent in each and every one of us.
For the overall structure of the weekend we aligned the methods and sessions following Gabrielle Roth’s model of the five rhythms in order to support the group-process we lived and worked through. On Sunday we closed our union with gentle sessions and methods. For us as the OT, as well as for many of us that have attended the first Peace Elicit, we were absolutely astounded by the intensity and depth of this short journey. Time-wise it was just a weekend; experience-wise it was a world full of elicitive conflict transformation and lived transrational peaces.
Many Peaces elicited by Many People
Hence, I believe I can say that the first Peace Elicit was a very successful first run; it was a pilot-project for what is to come. Our aim is to grow big, to become a movement of many different Peace Elicits led by many different OTs so that the Culture of Many Peaces and its dedicated spaces for transformation and unfolding can continue to expand. If you feel like joining and then even organising a Peace Elicit, if you want to get involved in general or you are just curious, write us an email or call us.
- Featured Image: © Paul Lauer