We cannot have a healed society, we cannot have change, we cannot have justice, if we do not reclaim and repair the human spirit, if we don’t do the inner work that has been underemphasized, that we have not trained ourselves to do, the work that is upon us now.
– Angel Kyodo Williams
The Beyond Words Healing Approach
Creating safe havens/spaces where painful emotions related to the conflict are transformed into understanding and empathy towards the “other”
In places of conflict, such as Israel, there are often too many opinions expressed without real dialogue. Words can become manipulative and destructive. The Beyond Words organization chooses to use, in addition to words, several healing modalities that go “beyond words”, that are nonverbal. We have found that this combination seems to work extremely well in quickly breaking down barriers between people and creating an atmosphere of trust and acceptance. The project curriculum involves experiencing and learning these approaches.
Our approach is composed of:
- An Opening Circle
- Dance/Movement Therapy which includes:
a. Exploring New Ways of Moving in Space
b. Accessing and Bringing Out Emotional Pain
c. Enabling and Supporting the Beginning of Cathartic Release
- Listening partnerships
- Holistic Touch
- A Closing Circle
The meeting usually starts with an opening circle followed by dancing to music and movement games. Then participants learn the theory and practice of listening partnerships and healing touch. We end with a closing circle.
The opening circle is designed to welcome participants to the group while enabling the facilitators to verbally and kinesthetically gauge the mood of the group and become aware of relevant issues group members are dealing with.
The dance/movement section with the games is designed to reawaken a sense of childlike wonder and joyfulness of being in our bodies that many of us had as children, to increase body awareness, uncover old wounds stored within the body and begin releasing them.
Next are the Listening Partnerships* which introduce a new level of listening that is helpful in transforming our own and others’ emotional pain related to past and present hurts and traumas. Participants cry, laugh, express anger or shake with fear while talking with a partner about painful experiences. In doing so, they are reminded once again how to use the natural healing mechanisms they were born with and had when they were very young and have been alienated from due to the conditioning of society. The emotional release that occurs in the listening partnerships enables participants to reevaluate old issues in a new light.
The ensuing healing touch assists in the integration of the emotional work and enhances the listening capacity while encouraging a sense of intimacy and closeness.
Finally the closing circle is a time of cognitive assimilation of the insights acquired during the meeting as participants are asked to talk about which parts of the meeting were meaningful for their daily lives and why.
* Listening partnerships is a term coined by Patty Wipfler to describe this type of work. www.handinhandparenting.org
This work was first originated by Harvey Jenkins who called it Re-Evaluation Co-Counseling: www.rc.org
Other approaches that contribute to our peacebuilding work:
In the words of Makeshift Theater: “Playback Theater is created through a
unique collaboration between performers and audience. It provides a space
where any story – however ordinary, extraordinary, hidden or difficult – might
be told, and immediately made into theater. And where each person’s
uniqueness is honored and affirmed while at the same time building and
strengthening our connections to each other as a community of people.”
Radical Aliveness (RA) was developed by Ann Bradney. The goal of Radical Aliveness is to help create a reality where human beings can move past the polarization within and without—and walk through the world in ways that bring connection, understanding and healing. Radical Aliveness is eye opening, awareness growing, conflict resolving and community making. It bridges gaps and promotes understanding, relationship and connection where profound differences have lived, where we have despaired of solutions. https://radicalaliveness.org/
Since 2007 Israelis and Palestinians have trained with and collaborated with Ann Bradney through the Together Beyond Words Organization (TBW). The focus of the work is learning to be effective, influential leaders in a new socio-political environment where we are all connected, where we can all participate, and where each individual is needed to create the wisdom of the whole. Radical Aliveness has also taught us how to stay present and in our leadership with an ability to intervene in ways that promote healing around strong emotions.
IFS is a model of psychotherapy that offers a clear, non-pathologizing, and empowering method of understanding human problems, as well as an innovative and enriching philosophy of practice that invites both therapist and client to enter into a transformational relationship in which healing can occur. https://internalfamilysystems.org/
Since 2009 the Together Beyond Words Organization (TBW) has trained with and collaborated with Richard Schwartz Ph.D., who developed the IFS model, with IFS teachers and community and with IFS-Israel https://www.ifs-israel.org/ on different programs for Jewish, Arab and Palestinian women using the IFS model to promote peace-building through Self-to-Self communication.