When I was introduced to Restorative Practices, I felt my Indian Soul had finally found its’ place. Restorative Practices encompasses the very best of Dennis Renault’s “Circle of Life”.
As Mark Umbreit explains: “Peacemaking circles, talking circles, or healing circles are deeply rooted in the traditional practices of the indigenous people of North America. The circle process establishes a very different style of communication than most European traditions are familiar with. Rather than aggressive debate and challenging each other, often involving only a few more assertive individuals, the circle process establishes a safe nonhierarchical place in which all present have the opportunity to speak without interruptions. Rather than active verbal facilitation, communication is regulated through the circle keeper or facilitator by passing a talking piece (usually an object of special meaning or symbolism to the group). The talking piece fosters respectful listening and reflection in a safe setting. It prevents one-on-one debating or attacking or even one person dominating the conversation. After welcoming the participants, all of whom are sitting in a circle, the circle keeper will begin by having each person introduce him-or herself, followed by brief opening comments by the circle keeper about the purpose of the circle and the talking piece.
Guidelines for communication are discussed and agreed upon. Typical guidelines include listen with respect, speak from the heart, speak for yourself and not as the representative of any group, realize that it is okay to disagree, and no name-calling or attacking.
The circle keeper will begin the process by posing a question to reflect on, followed by other related questions. After each question, the talking piece is passed to the person on the left, clockwise. Only the person with the talking piece can speak. If others jump in with comments, the circle keeper reminds them of the ground rules and refocuses on the person with the talking piece. Participants are not required to speak: this requirement would create an unsafe, pressured tone to the circle. If someone feels unable to speak, he or she can simply pass the talking piece to the next person.”
From: The Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking, U of Minnesota 2008.
As I read this, I couldn’t help but remember a great teacher saying “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
And I have come full circle in my Life. When I look back at all the periods of seemingly unremitting pain and confusion, I now understand the strengthening process taking place as God spoke to me in so many ways – even when I wasn’t listening or swearing He didn’t exist.
I wish to assist in any way those who find anxiety/depression/self-hate overpowering – though I can only promise them that THEY have the answers and I will assist them to find their answers as best I can.
And I also intend to lobby the educational systems here in Georgia and South Carolina to implement Restorative Practices in their schools. There has already been very promising feedback from schools up North – their statistics demonstrate the power of the Circle in creating safe, supportive learning environments.
My Dream is that as children learn respect for one another, how to generate solutions for interpersonal problems, develop empathy and kindness and good communication skills, there will be a paradigm shift and subsequent culture change overall – a transformational process.
Please go here for more info: http://www.iirp.edu – their site is voluminous.
I’m posting this (4/8/2015) a year and a half after my last posting above. I FINALLY have a chance for training by The International Institute of Restorative Practices (IIRP) located in Bethlehem, PA. They are having a four day training in Hapeville GA at the end of April. I borrowed the money – but I feel it is well worth $550. I am truly excited – Ready for new inspiration…!!
The Unitarian Universalist church in Augusta, GA (where I am now located) has been SOO supportive and I am deeply grateful for their understanding and grasp of a philosophy of discipline that almost no one locally has ever heard of. I will be posting more information soon.
I’m writing this 4/29/15 and still feeling euphoric. I realize that a four-day training by an IIRP facilitator – no matter how good she was and she WAS excellent – is a surprising cause for euphoria! Let me explain what it is like to attempt to deal with every day life when you have PTSD.
When I graduated from college with a 3.3 average – all my plans to continue to Law school came crashing down when I realized how hampered I was with the anxiety that went with relating to people. Even though I had friends in Legal aid who were attorneys, and I had done my internship there (I was a pre-law student) and I knew everyone liked me as I, in turn, liked and respected everyone of them; it made no difference to my inability to relate. In spite of myself I felt inadequate, dumb, stupid, incapable of doing what was expected of me – and the anxiety was over whelming…no matter my attempts to push back at it. So I had to let go of my long held dream. I had tried therapy – for twenty years – and there was no help there.
I tried other things over the years since then…design had always interested me…and Astrology was one of my interests. I realized there was much Art in Astrology that had seldom been worked with – so I spent years perfecting crafts pertaining to horoscope charts. I perfected (for instance) a dimensional ‘box” illustrating individual horoscopes. Someone said it looked like a little stained glass church window. I even obtained a patent – that took me YEARS to develop and patent. I couldn’t carry that forward – because it meant I had to talk to people about it – generate interest – every time I tried to do so – Anxiety would overcome all of my attempts to do ANYTHING. There were other failures – I opened a Renaissance Pub that was really a showcase – I lost 200,000 dollars – I was unable to relate to customers or to other business owners in the area.
I could go on and on….
Despair to EVER be able to become myself – to be able to come out of this hole that had buried me when I was three years old – that had held back relationships I wanted to develop as I wanted to develop myself – did not seem possible.
But I also knew that God had created me for SOMETHING – God does NOT make great big fat NOTHINGS!!
And then God told me to write a book about a “little Indian girl.” It was pointed out to me by someone who God was speaking through – that the “little Indian girl” was ME!. I absolutely did not want to – but the feeling was stronger than I was. And obviously you can find all of that in the writings I’ve already posted.
I feel SO blessed – after all this time – I’m 83 now – I can finally say I’m RELEASED!!! I found myself in that class being able to speak when I wanted to – instead of retreating in anxiety – and what I had to say made sense – that is, I WAS contributing. I was 2-3 times older than the median age – but I didn’t care – and no one else did either. I have been starved all my life – a very, VERY long time – for the feeling of Pride of accomplishment I felt after the training. The REAL accomplishment being: there were no longer any voices telling me how bad and terrible I was – that I could never live up to expectations – the Anxiety was FINALLY GONE!! – Thus the EUPHORIA!!!
Thank you God!!
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