This manual is an introduction to (or a review of) mindful conflict transformation.
The content comes from the Inner Peace Outer Peace (IPOP) class we teach at Brandeis University, and the open-access Reader that comes with it. But you don't have to be a student or alum from our class to make good use of the ideas here.
Think of this IPOP Manual like having ten cards in your hand.
You hold 'em. You think about them. That's Inner.
You play them. That's Outer.
Get it? ... Good!
We knew you could.
Feeling alone? Too much on your shoulders?
You can tip the balance. In any conflict. Don't think that you are too small, too alone, that your work doesn't matter. It does! Don't think you can't help other people. You can.
One Grain of Sand: a song by John Ungerleider
One grain of sand
plus one grain of sand
begin to shift the land.
And one day we will see the change
that every hand that brought the sand
began to make today.
Here's the link to hear John's song.
There are definitely TWO PEACES to this puzzle.
1. Inner Peace and Outer Peace.
2. Peter Gould and John Ungerleider, the two teachers of IPOP at Brandeis University.
Peter says "Take charge of your inner life first. Speak and act from a place of inner strength and calm."
John says: "Be sensitive to everyone's needs. In any intervention, choose compassion first."
Read chapter one of our reader to learn what we mean by inner and outer peace
You can look at a big big picture—like a major global conflict—and see how being familiar with that large lens can help you solve smaller and nearer disputes.
Three Peaces can make your work clearer:
Peacemaking: Getting people to sit down and officially agree to talk, and maybe talk to agree---about the thing that keeps them apart. Relax tensions. Quell hostility.
Peacebuilding: All the processes involved in growing that shaky made-up peace into something sustainable, an equilibrium that can evolve, transform, and maybe establish a new community that no one could have imagined!
Peacekeeping: Sometimes you need to deploy a force—some kind of discipline anyway—to police the uneasy community until a long term livable peace can be built.
CLOWN DHARMA: Oh, Hmmm, Aha, Voila!!
The Clown Dharma is a structured system for solving problems. It works! YOU can follow this way of looking at problems for the rest of your life.
If you follow this teaching, you'll be the Best Problem Solver ever. But be careful: sometimes your solution, your Voila, could cause a new, unexpected problem! (We call that Whooooops!)
Whoooopses happen. But that's okay, because now we know how to solve problems.
Not ready to try it out yet? For a deeper dive, link to the clown dharma essay in the reader.
BY THE WAY, Peter Gould has copyrighted the Clown Dharma© teaching! Feel free to use it, but don't claim it as your own. And yes, it comes from Buddhism's Four Noble Truths.
Here is a list of the common ways that most people relate to conflict. What's your style? How do you deal with conflict? And what do you observe in other people?
Try this: make these into FIVE actual cards, so you can lay them out on the ground and locate yourself and your companions on or between the various cards, depending on the situation and with whom you have a conflict. Talk with each other about your decision. Talk about the pro's and con's of each approach.
Need more explanation? Read all about these five!
Six Steps for Men to Prevent Domestic Violence By Bill Pelz-Walsh and John Ungerleider
(You can also use these six steps to help you to watch out for these behaviors near you.)
We're emerging from a time of social distancing and isolation, with an increased risk of domestic violence. Women and children are most vulnerable. In order to change, men have to want to stop being hurtful towards others.
As we strengthen our capacity to regulate our emotions, we have the opportunity to build on our capacity to trust, respect and empathize.
This list can be helpful to anyone. It can help you to observe, counsel, and prevent aggressive behavior that may be about to happen.
Do you need a solution? A resolution? Let's sit down and talk. Create a restorative circle, and follow these seven steps:
Oh. Have we been sitting for too long? Maybe we need to get up and move and stretch. The natural movements of tai-chi can help us physicalize how we deal with conflict—
Sensitizing Responses to Conflict: T'ai Ch'i Basic Moves.
The eight basic moves of T'ai Ch'i Chuan can get us up and moving, and help us to physicalize our usual response to conflict.
The eight moves come in four pairs:
Each move has a unique quality and intent. Ward Off is strong and untiring, expanding as Heaven, like the air inflating a ball. Roll Back is soft and yielding as Earth, not opposing, moving to neutralize force aimed at it. Press is soft outside, yet dangerous, like Water wearing away rock. Push clings like Fire, aggressive while acutely sensitive. Pull Down stuns the opponent, like a sudden Wind plucking fruit. Split is dangerous and abrupt, roaring like Thunder. Elbow disguises great power, hidden beneath the surface of a Lake. Shoulder puts up an obstacle like a Mountain, displaying the force of the whole body.
Ways of Getting and Giving Feedback [Four plus Five]
After a harmful act, or in the midst of a conflict, you can make a circle and ask these Four Restorative Questions:
Five things to keep in mind for Giving Effective Feedback (a non-violent communication skill):
Count to Ten (Anger Management the way you learned it in kindergarten)
You take a deep breath. You count to ten slowly on your fingers. You breathe in and breathe out as many times as you need to. Take a whole minute if you can.
And by the way, you just did!
You counted to ten! Here we are. Ten.
And ten doesn't have to BE ten,
You can begin again! By remembering that you can be that ONE grain of sand.
Have we thrown too many numbers at you? Too many cards? We could have thrown more:
(Direct, Structural, and Cultural Violence)
How about one number more? INFINITY—
Grains of sand
Stars in the sky
Or the people without number who have stood in the middle, or on opposing sides, of debates and disputes, conflicts and wars, small and large, and somehow created a peaceful transformation—since human time began.
That's just to put you and your problems into a healthy perspective. Take a moment and breathe in all those infinite atoms of air. Let it out. Breathe another.
Here you are.
Infinite thanks to Elizabeth Ungerleider for her magnificent images.
All photos © 2022 Elizabeth Ungerleider
The Inner Peace Outer Peace Manual
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