Saturday, February 21, 2015

Anti-Slavery Campaign Interview Series. Jan Dworkin


RANK, IDENTITY AND SLAVERY
Insights from Process Work


Jan Dworkin is a Process Work facilitator, coach and educator living in Portland, Oregon. One of Arny Mindell’s original students, Jan is a pioneer in the field of Process Work. She has been developing and co-creating Process Work theory and practice for over twenty-five years. Her Ph.D dissertation on Group Process Work (Worldwork) was one of the first texts written on that theme. She has worked with groups and multiple stakeholders on opposing sides of issues in highly tense and charged conflict situations in various hotspots around the world. She has co-authored various Process Work training programs both in the U.S.A. and abroad, has written numerous articles on the subject and she conducts training workshops and public seminars internationally. Jan served as the Academic Dean of the Masters in Process Work (MAPW) program for many years.

Jan specializes in the use of the arts and creativity in personal and group transformation. She is owner and partner in 361ArtWorks www.361artworks.com a unique facilitation company that uses Process Work awareness methods and the Arts to support organizational development and community transformation.
Jan is passionately involved with her own creative process as well—especially as a painter. She is also an avid long distance road cyclist and nature lover. Above all else, she tries to follow the unpredictable direction of Nature and Spirit in whatever she undertakes.

Yago: Jan, you are welcome to this blog where we are dealing in the here and now with the complexity of the energies that enslaves us. You are one of the original students of Dr. Arnold Mindell, the founder of Process Work and a pioneer and co-creator of Process Work theory and practice. You also serve as the Academic Dean of the Masters in Process Work diploma program, a distance education program out of Portland, Oregon in the USA. Your bio says that you try to follow the unpredictable direction of Spirit in whatever you undertake. So, we would like to benefit from the deep insights provided by the Process Work discipline. But first of all, could you introduce yourself? What brought you to be engaged in this process of self-awareness?

Jan: That’s a very deep question and a long story.  I think I came into this world with an interest in self-awareness and a deep sensitivity towards the suffering in the world around me.  Even as a young child, I was acutely aware of rank and power dynamics in society and the inequities of the world,  and I was troubled by what I saw. Fortunately for me, my path led me to study with Arny Mindell, founder of Process Work in Zurich Switzerland, even before Arny published his first book, Dreambody: The Body’s Role in Revealing the Self, in 1982 and before Process Work existed as a discipline. Many of the ideas I discuss in this interview come from the seminal work of Drs. Arny and Amy Mindell.

Yago: Now, let us start with a basic introductory question, Jan, what do we mean by Process Oriented Psychology/Process Work?

Jan: Process work is a broad spectrum approach to human, organizational and community development. It is also a therapeutic modality that works with individuals, couples, families and groups. It works with large systems’ change processes, so it is much more than a therapeutic approach. At the same time, it is an awareness practice and can be seen as a spiritual path. So, it is really many things. As you probably know, the founder of Process Work, Dr. Arnold Mindell, has a background, in theoretical physics and Jungian psychology. Originally he was a physicist. But he became interested in the connection between the physical world and the dreaming world—the world of psychology, and became a Jungian analyst , which of course was very much about the dreaming processwhat you call the unconscious.



Arny was not satisfied with the idea that the unconscious only expresses itself through dreams at night but believed we should be able to see and witness the living unconscious when we talk to people, when we work with groups, when we interact with society. Where is that living unconscious happening in the moment? It can’t only express itself through our nightmare dreams! From these questions came one of his seminal ideas—“the dreambody” and the extension of that ideathe dreaming process; the idea that there is a background underlying dreaming process that is happening all the time, that is coming to our awareness in many different ways.  
        
Yago: Could you tell us about the sources of this awareness practice called Process Work?

Jan: The main sources of Process Work are: Jungian psychology, quantum physics, Taoism (the ancient Chinese philosophy of following the Tao, nature),  bits and pieces of Buddhism, bits and pieces of all religions actually.  It rests on the idea that there is a deeper principle, something nature-like or God-like that is organizing our experiences. Lately Arny calls it the Process Mind. Shamanism and indigenous traditions from around the world are very much informing Process Work as well.

Yago: Process Work understands relationships as derivative of the interaction between individuals' intra-psychic parts (such as the anima, animus, shadow, and persona); this often happens outside the individual’s awareness. Relationships issues and complexities must therefore be navigated through self-awareness. Could you expand on this?

Jan: Well, let me see if I try to grasp what you are asking here. Relationship processes are very complex systems processes. You have the intra-psychic experiences of individuals, and then you also have the interactive and communication process or flow that happens between the individuals (of course also influenced by the intra-psychic processes). And at the same time, every relationship is influenced by the field or world that surrounds it. An invisible (quantum) field flows through and between people and both parties in a relationship are expressions of that field. So the community, may be working through certain issues connected with racism, or connected with homophobia, or gender issues, or whatever… and then two people who are in relationship within that field find themselves polarized, so the parts of the field that are in conflict with one another also can polarize and disturb a relationship. When we talk about a relationship process, we have to address so many different levels and layers of phenomena. 



Yago: As you know in this blog we are trying to grasp and comprehend the complexity of slavery. The slaveholder is unable to see the humanity in the other because s/he is not able to see his/her own humanity. Here we are dealing with the issue of projection. The slaveholder is not reconciled with him/herself, s/he is out of touch with his/her own shadow. Can we say that this phenomenon is the main reason in dynamics of enslavement?

Jan: Interesting! I think it is really fascinating the way you are expanding the concept of slavery. There are so many angles, I can talk about that from so many different angles!

Yago: I would appreciate if you can share with us your creative thinking about this.

Jan: I almost don’t know where to begin but let me make some notes to myself so I can talk about it. First I want to say that whenever we talk about slavery as an internal process, a psychological process, we are speaking in metaphor. We can’t talk about it without acknowledging all the suffering that has been and still is created around this devastating abuse of power in the world. And without honouring all the people all over the world who are dedicated to social justice work on the outer level.



So…. I will speak psychologically, which is one part of the puzzle. Let me start with projection—I believe you are talking about the Jungian concept of projection and the notion that you disallow or oppress certain parts of yourself and then you see those parts in the other person. Sometimes you project something grand and wonderful, and you think that is not me, that is the other; and sometimes it is something terrible, this other person is lazy, or a whole group of people are lazy. Projection leads to stereotyping. We refer to this as the process of “othering.” We make something “other,” and by making something “other” we reject it within ourselves. And that may be something positive or something negative. In Process Work, we embrace the very basic idea that “the other is you”. Everything that we see outside of ourselves, everything that we read about in a newspaper, everything that we are disturbed by in the community is an aspect of ourselves. The entire world lives within us. I woke up to this concept in my early twenties when I dreamed that I was reading the New York Times and it was my family photo album. The more that we can recognize and embrace all of those different parts of the world as aspects of ourselves, the more we develop the attitude we call in process work “deep democracy.”

“Deep democracy” is the idea that all of the voices, all of the parts in the system, all the voices in a community need to be included and encouraged to interact in order for the individual or community to be whole and  sustainable.

When you project something onto somebody else, you reject it—you make it other. This can be considered a form of internalized enslavement. We try to create a world that serves our identity or our notion of self. And anything that does not fit into our identity or notion of self gets rejected. 

So you can say that those rejected parts become enslaved by one’s identity. The identity itself behaves like a slaveholder. That is one way of thinking about it.




Another way we can talk about enslavement, in Process Work terms, is the idea that most of us, who live in modern-western-cosmopolitan reality, are enslaved to what we in Process Work call "consensus reality." "Consensus reality" (CR) is the world that we see, perceive and agree upon. For example when I look out the window I see cars going down the street… I see the sky… I see a little bit of drizzle… and most people who are in a normal state of consciousness, not on drugs, not psychotic, not sleeping and dreaming, look out the window and see the same things that I see. We consent to this  reality. We agree that what we see is real. But for some of us, the consensus view of reality is not just limited, it is oppressive -- consensus reality takes ownership of our perceptions. That itself can be thought of as a form of psychic enslavement. For example, if I am in an altered state, perhaps on a drug trip, or perhaps in a so-called psychotic state and I am supposedly hallucinating, or perhaps if I am an indigenous person in a trance state, I might look out the window and see machines on wheels decimating the earth.  I might see tears of a goddess falling from the sky.



Many people live their lives thinking that consensus reality is the only reality, and we prioritize consensus reality and we marginalize our dreaming experiences, our dream-like experiences, our fantasies, things that happen outside of our intention. We marginalize the spiritual experiences as well-- we are trying to get the job done. Even now, as I am talking to you; even though we are discussing things that are very deep and philosophical and spiritual, I have the intention to be clear, and to be able to communicate ideas and to be in relationship with you. This is my consensus reality… And then other experiences that I have, like my throat feels dry, I am tired, it is the end of the day… I try to oppress and repress those things in order to maintain the primacy and the supremacy of my consensus reality intention. You can look at that as a form of inner enslavement.

Yago: Deep democracy includes three levels of awareness/consciousness. Could you introduce us briefly to these levels?

Jan: We talk about consensus reality as I described it above; we talk about what we call dreamland or dreaming reality and we talk about the essence level, which refers to a deeper unity that is often connected with divine or god-like experiences.
Let’s talk first about Dreamland. Dreamland refers to the level of reality that has to do with psychology and parts and understanding dreams as symbols and moods and feelings and the subtle experiences that each one of us have that are connected with our subjective experiences and psychological realities. And we are all very different in that way…  You know, you can be in a room with three middle age white women, who are all American, let us say computer programmers, so with their consensus reality descriptions are all very much the same but their dreamland experiences and their subjective realities are very different. So, one person could be depressed, while the other one is happy, another one could be very stressed out by something, somebody else could be just freshly falling in love while another just lost a loved one. So their subjective mind states are utterly different although in consensus reality they look more or less similar.
We talk about the third level of reality being the essence level, which could be considered a spiritual realm, when you are at that level you experience a sense of oneness; it is a realm where all people, despite their outer differences, despite their consensus reality diversity, their subjective differences, are connected by an underlying unified field.  And in terms of deep democracy, most of us are not trained to pay equal attention to all those three levels of experience. Most of us are trained to pay most attention to the consensus reality level and to marginalize and oppress other aspects of our experience.



Yago: As I listen attentively to your words, it looks to me that the goal of humanity is to be able to reach and to integrate meaningfully the essence level, to be able to look at reality from the essence level where everything becomes one. Do you agree?

Jan: I partially agree. One of the things I find profound to consider is that even the essence level can be a marginalizer. I have been in spiritual communities that elevate oneness and marginalize conflict. I remember group processes and conflict facilitations sessions where people were extremely upset and angry and hurt by oppression-- by consensus reality oppressions and inequalities and unfair systems in the world. People in angry and hurt and upset states of mind can feel extremely marginalized and put down when people insist that we are all one, that we are unified.  Some people feel that this idea of oneness can also marginalize very real social problems and diversity issues. There is a moment for oneness and there is a moment for divisions and conflict and arguing. Process Work is very pro-conflict, in the sense that when conflict needs to come forward and come out and be worked through, we welcome and support that. So let’s not forget that the essence level can be also a marginalizer.



Yago: Could we say that we can also be slaves of the essence level if we are only focussing in that level?

Jan: Absolutely.

Yago: So, we have to be able to integrate meaningfully the three levels of awareness. Isn’t it?

Jan: That’s right, and to notice. If you work as a facilitator like I do, it is essential to notice which level is trying to come through, which level the group itself is focusing on. If people are in conflict, if you work with multiple stakeholders, with different points of view, with diverse subjective experience, whether it is in a city process or a community process or simply a family process, you have to notice which level draws the group’s attention. For example, I facilitated a recent process that revolved around a Community Centre (CR) and whether or not it was accessible to people of colour. There were multiple stakeholders including neighbourhood activists, the staff of the centre, the city council, etc. And part of the group focused on the neighbourhood itself and the location of the centre and the history of racism in that neighbourhood and many very important CR concerns were expressed. But when the group interacted people were angry and hurt and felt marginalized and misunderstood by each other in the moment, certain people felt shut down and kept out of the conversation. This is more of an in-the-moment, interactional dreamland level; it has to do with conflict happening in the moment between people. And we can change laws on the outside and move the community centre to a more diverse neighborhood, but we also need to focus on how people treat each other and welcome each other’s viewpoints in the moment. Can we make a “center” in our discussion where all people/viewpoints are welcome? So the dialogue happens on many levels and some are metaphorical and others are CR. Process-oriented facilitation involves noticing which level of experience the group is focussing on and supporting the group to go further and deeper with that. And to make sure that each level gets addressed so that the levels don’t complete with one another and then conflict cycles.

Yago: What kind of techniques, methodologies or disciplines are used in Process Work in order to integrate meaningfully the three levels of awareness? It looks to me that the journey towards the essence reality is not an easy one. According to me, the vast majority of people think that only consensus reality is real.

Jan: And also, don’t forget that for some people it is very difficult to focus on consensus reality. Some people live in the dreaming realms, and those people are very often labelled as mentally ill. So consensus reality isn’t easy for everybody.

Now referring to your question, let us start with the dreamland level, because this is really the practice of psychology, and the practice of Process Work is very much based in empiricism and we are trained to study signals; so I might be sitting with a client or with a group or a team that is in conflict, and we work both with the verbal communication as well as the non-verbal communication, the body signals. Somebody making an agreement to go along with a new direction, or giving their consent, or a consensus to do something but their body is turned away or their arms are folded; their verbal message may be saying yes, but their body is saying no; so there is a lot of awareness training, and skills training connected to the study of verbal and non-verbal communication signals. We all tend to interpret them from outside, and often to misinterpret them, especially across cultures, and this is where lot of conflict comes from. We have developed a very scientific and exact way to help individuals open up and to unfold their own signal system. We talk about different channels of communication, we talk about communication as being expressed through visual signals and through eye movements, through auditory signals, through verbal expression, but also through hearing, to hear people’s tones of voice. We work with movement signals, with proprioception or inner-body feeling; so, there is a comprehensive and systematic training in Process Work. There is a fairly exact science to unfolding signals. Hmmm. Now I forgot what your question was…

Yago: The question was, how do you train people to become more aware of the three levels of awareness/reality?

Jan: It is very hard to say in a nutshell how we train people. We have a Masters program specifically in conflict facilitation (MACF) at the Process Work Institute.



Our MACF program is focused on conflict facilitation, organizational change,  community work and world work. We also offer a Masters in the general study of Process Work where one can train to be a facilitator or a therapist or to apply the practice of Process Work across disciplines including but not limited to education, politics, social work, art, law, medicine and health care, etc. These are 3 or 4 year training programs. So I couldn’t possible capture the depth of training here in this interview. For readers interested in learning more about Process Work please see Process Work website or my own (Jan Dworkin website). For readers interested in any additional information about our Masters programs specifically please write to our outreach coordinator Myriam Rahman.

Myriam Rahman and Jan Dworkin during a Process Work Workshop
at Loreto House (Dublin, 2013)

But I can say there is a lot of emphasis in our training on inner work and personal development. Because you can’t work with other people if you don’t develop some kind of deeply democratic attitude within yourself. As I mentioned earlier, all the pieces of your own personal history, especially your own wounding, will surface when you begin to work with others. We all have been hurt. Even people who are stuffed with privilege, even the most wealthy, educated, heterosexual, brilliant, healthy white male at the top of the totem pole was a child once and has lived through a diversity of experiences and feels wounded in various ways. And it is around the areas you feel hurt and wounded that you are likely to go unconscious, lose awareness and potentially hurt others.




For example, if I marginalize or oppress my own vulnerability and can’t bear to feel out-of-control, I will be triggered around people or groups who display those behaviours. Being triggered can take many forms—I might criticize, reject and stereotype “vulnerable people” or I might champion, elevate and work on their behalf. In either case, when I am triggered, I am not conscious about what I am reacting to. Becoming aware of one’s own wounding and how our wounds affect our awareness process is huge.

Yago: Here we are talking on the importance of becoming aware of our bodies, our feelings and emotions. This is crucial, isn’t it?

Jan: Feelings, emotions, body awareness, personal history, social oppression, internalized oppression, we do a lot of work with people on their internalized oppression, the places where they internalized the ideas that society has told them about the group they are part of.

Yago: Arnold Mindell says that rank is a drug. The more you have, the less aware you are of how it effects others negatively. Rank blinds us to the value of other people. Could you tell us what is understood by rank? How is it related to power? 

Jan: We use the term rank to refer to the power that we have and use relative to one another in groups and communities. Most of us think generally about the most obvious forms of rank or power. In most places on this planet, if you are male you have more power than if you are female or white skin is the privileged skin colour in most places in the world. If you have white skin you generally get around easier, have an easier time passing through immigration at airports, etc. Now of course there always are exceptions and subcultures where this may not be true.  We call this most obvious, consensus-reality form of rank “social rank." There are many forms of social rank including wealth, higher education, good health, being able bodied, heterosexual, etc.

Before we get to the idea of rank being drug-like… let’s talk about some other types of rank -- there are other types of rank we may be less likely to think about. In addition to the socially designated ranks, there is rank that comes from more the  personal powers, like psychological and spiritual dimensions. Some of us have psychological rank, for example we have good self-esteem, we feel loved by others and exude love towards others… or we have self-awareness and we can talk about our inner experiences in a way that is coherent and that others can relate to. This is a huge and important type of power. Then there is spiritual rank-- you feel connected with something that you experience as God-like; it could be nature; it could be an actual religious practice; it could be your own private and personal spiritual practice, some people feel connected with the earth and connect with the divine in certain powerful or sacred places on earth. If someone feels connected with something greater than themselves, that usually gives them a type of power. They may even have a glow about them. They can use that glow to make others feel well and uplifted, or, if they are less self-aware they may become condescending, righteous or superior. Then they certainly don’t glow.



Most of us aren’t aware of the power that we have, we don’t identify with it.  And therefore, we aren’t aware of how we use it in relationship and in community. It seems to be a fact of human nature that many of us have the tendency to notice where we feel powerless or one-down, and notice less where we are more powerful than others. We notice what is above us, we notice what hurts us, we notice who has power over us or who we envy or aspire to be more like. But we notice less, who we are stepping on, who is below us and who is looking up towards us. This awareness of one’s own power-less position can be put to good use if it helps us to empathize and become more compassionate towards others who also feel down.

This leads us to why Arny Mindell has written in his book, Sitting in the Fire, that “rank is a drug”, because having rank feels good, it creates a slightly altered state of consciousness.  Because we feel momentarily good or on top of the world, rank hypnotizes us into thinking that everyone does—that the world is a just and fair place.  Rank blinds us to whom we are stepping on. We are so busy looking up to see who is stepping on, who is hurting us, what we don’t have and what we are yearning and striving for, that we don’t notice the things that are underneath our feet, things we are accidentally stepping on or killing. Changing this requires an awareness practice.

For example, in community life or in relationship life, when somebody is mad at me, or I sense that somebody does not like me, a most useful question to ask myself is: how have I used my rank in an unconscious way in relationship with that person? Now I don’t always find an easy answer. We don’t easily notice how we are using rank; we very rarely notice when we interrupt someone  and they become quiet or agitated. In relationship, when we feel very self-assured or calm or rational and the person we are talking with is shaking or crying. We might think why are they being so irrational? It’s no big deal! Why is she so emotional or so insecure? Those kind of thoughts, whether we voice them or not are moments of rank unconsciousness. In such moments, if we used power well, we might ask ourselves-- What am I doing to make that person feel uncomfortable? If I feel relatively well, if I feel relatively at ease in this community or I feel relatively safe in this particular neighbourhood, how can I help the people around me feel better and safer? Usually it doesn’t take that much in the way of action but a whole lot in the way of attitude.  Instead of looking at them as if they are a little bit silly or too sensitive or even crazy, because they are paranoid about being followed in a particular neighbourhood or grocery store, you might suggest to take a different route or to do the shopping yourself. That is rank awareness. And many people have very little of it. Rank awareness is a key to sustainable community life.

And of course, especially in areas where we have social privilege, we need to work towards creating consensus reality change-- social change, changing laws, supporting democracy, etc. That is a more consensus reality way of using power and that is essential. But this is a less talked about way of using the more personal powers.

Yago: Let us deepen the meaning of spiritual rank. You said that spiritual rank comes from the relationship to something divine or transcendent. People who have spiritual power are in the world but not of it. Interestingly Mindell says that religious professionals don’t have necessarily this rank. As with every power, unconscious use of spiritual rank is apt to make trouble in relationships. How can spiritual rank be used in positive and negative ways?


Jan: Yes, “religious professionals” like priests or rabbis or imams, have social rank within their institution and community. Many of these people will also have spiritual rank, but that is not a given. True spiritual rank is a very personal and very private thing and it comes from one’s own connection with something divine, whatever that is. Many of us have it in moments and very few of us have it all the time. But in those moments where we really feel it and identify with it and enjoy it, it gives us an aura, a glow about us that tends to make people around us feel well and uplifted. They rarely feel less than.

Some years ago  I was teaching in a Catholic country in an almost 100% Catholic community and I had an experience that exemplifies spiritual rank being used in a less than helpful way. To give you some background: I was raised in a very secular Jewish family-- my parents were both atheists; I was not raised with religion per se but I was raised with a lot of cultural tradition around being Jewish. My parents were born in the 1930s and when they were raising me, the experience of oppression and anti-Semitism was in their bones and in our bread and butter, and of course, internalized oppression as well. But I was never interested in Judaism as a religion. When I entered my twenties I started to explore many kinds of religions and spiritual experiences in all sorts of different ways. And, in my thirties, I started to have my own internal relationship with what I experienced as Jesus. As a figure, a symbol, Jesus became  important to me. During that period, my work brought me to this Catholic country and I had the privilege to meet many religious people, many beautiful people with a lot of spiritual rank and with a lot of social rank as priests and nuns in various orders. I want to share some of my experiences, ask questions about some of what I had been calling my “Jesus experiences.” I was very shy about this, of course with many family ghosts in the background of my mind telling me I was a betrayer. But I was hoping that this one particular priest, with all his spiritual rank could shed some light on my experience… After I shared with him, he put his arm around me and said, “Oh yes, many Jews are coming to Jesus now.” I am sure he meant it in a very supportive and loving way and I don’t think he was aware of how that might be hurtful. I am sure he didn’t mean to come across as condescending or superior. But it is an example of spiritual rank used in a less conscious way. We all have experiences being on both sides of that. You know more about this than I do but I am sure when you go through religious education and religious training, you get put down by people who supposedly are more in the know.

Yago: Basically what you are saying is that in mainstream religions we have the risk to be taken by social rank and not so much by spiritual rank.

Jan: That’s right.

Yago: Can we say that social rank is more at the level of consensus reality and spiritual rank being more at the level of essence reality?

Jan: Yes, absolutely. That is the best way to say it.

Yago: I believe that true spiritual rank goes together with a compassionate and non-dualistic experience of reality. Arnold Mindell invites us to embrace the terrorist, he says that all of us are victim and persecutor. So in that sense, can we say that all of us are the slaveholder and the enslaved?


Jan: Yes, we are all the slaveholder, we are all the perpetrators, and we are all the victims, and none of us are victims only, and none of us are terrorists only. But the terrorist is like a role in a big gigantic group process, or city process or world process. The terrorist is the role that has been so marginalized and oppressed by the mainstream or the consensus reality viewpoints of the group or the organization, or the community, or the city, or the country, or the world, that it finds its power by rising up and killing off the thing that has put it down. It’s basically the story of history. Let us consider this on the individual, intra-psychic level. Lets consider a client in my private practice who feels that she gives a lot to her husband and family, that she is always taking care of everyone else.  She identifies herself as a generous person. Then one day she starts to think and notice… “I am giving a lot. Am I getting enough in return? What about my needs? Do I feel taken care of?” And she thought, “Oh, no, no really.” She notices that her husband is unkind to her and mocks her when she asks for attention or love. Or he is just too busy with work.  But she suppresses her hurt and her needs and keeps on giving. With some support she tries to focus on herself and her own needs and to put more of a life together for herself but her sense of identity as a mother and wife is so powerful it is almost like an addiction. Over time, she continues to suppress or even enslave the part of herself that longs for more love and connection. Then, one day, all of a sudden, she can’t do it anymore. What happens? In her case, someone stepped into her life and she decided yes, she would have an affair. And she loved the sense of power and revenge. And she left the family scene. So there you have it-- an act of terrorism; she destroyed her world as she knew it. It came as a result of inner and outer marginalization. In this  example, the person’s identity as a generous wife and mother marginalized or enslaved the person’s needs. So, that is how the terrorist is born.

Yago: Arnold Mindell in his manuscript “The Death Walk,” recounts the shaman’s journey of personal transformation from ordinary man to spiritual warrior. The warrior’s protection is awareness, not rules or laws. The journey of liberation is a very demanding one. Could you introduce to us the figure of the spiritual warrior? How is it related to Process Work?

Jan: Arny speaks of the “spiritual warrior” in his book,  “The Shaman’s Body,” which was originally adapted from a manuscript called “The Deathwalk.” This manuscript was based on the work of the Yacqui shaman Don Juan Matus, told through his apprentice Carlos Castaneda.

The spiritual warrior fights for awareness. His battlefield is everyday life and he or she is seeking awareness in every movement of every day. For the spiritual warrior, everything that crosses one’s path, whether it is perceived as good or bad, provides an opportunity for growth and an opportunity to wake up to some kind of new awareness.

For example, you are your way to an important business meeting and you get caught in a traffic jam and you are going to be late. The first thing you do is become tense and stressed and curse the traffic. The spiritual warrior has the attitude: This is happening for a reason. I need to wake up to something and don’t know what it is yet, but let me amplify the signals that are coming from the world channel. The world itself is talking to me, the world of all these cars blocking my path are trying to tell me something. Now, let me view that world that is blocking my way as a part of myself, (I am telling you the steps now, of how to get the spiritual warriors attitude.) Let me become that world. Let me become the traffic jam. And then I might say to myself, “No Jan, you can’t go. I am not letting you get to that meeting on time… and the reason is…” and then I have to meditate very deeply… until I get an answer that is authentic for me. “I’m not letting you get there because you want to show up and prove something and change those people’s point of view and I don’t like your attitude, (Remember this is the traffic jam speaking to me). “I want you to go with a different kind of attitude, I am stopping you, I am slowing you down because I want you to change your attitude… “ For the spiritual warrior, the world is full of meaning.

Yago: As I said in the introduction to this interview, I enjoyed very much last year’s Process Oriented Psychology workshop at Loreto House, Dublin. One of the things that really impressed me was to begin every morning sharing our individual night dreams in the group. The invitation was to be open to receive any meaningful message our group could receive from any individual dream. Could you explain the logic of this amazing Process Work technique?

Jan: So, this is the whole idea that I was mentioning in the beginning about the field, the idea that we are all part of a larger dreaming field—like the quantum field in physics. A group shares a dreaming field, and that field expresses itself to the group in many ways—through body symptoms, through diversity issues, through individual’s dreams. 

Someone in the group dreams about a big car crash but nobody is injured. And when this person tells the dream there is a lot of interest and resonance from the group.  People giggle; they are fascinated and ask many questions. Perhaps the field is bringing a message to that group: “You need to crash, you need to come into conflict with each other and bang up against each other; nobody is going to get hurt, or maybe you get a little bit injured but it is not going to be a disaster.” This might be a group that has been avoiding conflict. Although the dream may be speaking through an individual, it is meant as a message for the whole group. The messenger is not important but the message is! The field can also express itself through relationship. For example. If we put these two people together in a close and intimate relationship, then certain issues of gender can get worked through. The people are being used by the field!



Yago: Jan, I am very grateful for your fascinating insights into the field of conflict transformation. I believe that Process Work methodology contributes tremendously in a more mature grasp of the reality of conflict. Now we have a better understanding on the role that rank, power and identity play in deconstructing the energies of enslavement.

Jan: Thanks to you Yago. I really value the work you are doing and am honored to be part of the project.