Learning to Cast Off Fear
This evening I attended my first peacemaker training session, facilitated by a seasoned Quaker and peacemaker. Did a lot of role playing --not my favorite thing, but it's much more kinetic, that's for sure.
After listing all the things that we are right to be afraid of in participating in nonviolent actions, we practiced what Gandhi called "casting off fear." We each chose a type of tree that we would like to be (if we could be a tree!) and practiced breathing into our hara (or center) and visualizing ourselves as that tree, rooted, branches spread, and steadfast. We paired up and each one tried to push the other over, first in an ordinary stance and then after having done the breathing and visualizing. It works!
I learned that a peacemaker's mission during a nonviolent vigil/rally is to 1) serve the other participants, 2) maximize the effect of the event, and 3) ensure safety. We do this by fulfilling our role: setting the tone, providing information to the participants, and minimizing conflicts. We learned how to deal with situations such as: hecklers, witnessing a violent scuffle, someone get injured or faint, and having our route blocked by the police.
We learned the 3 nonviolent techniques of intervening, intercepting, and isolating. We also learned when it's appropriate to call for police assistance (when someone has a weapon or when someone is injured), how to guide participants along a route or around a corner, how to direct them calmly away from a potentially panicky situation...and most of all, that it's important to
I feel a lot more reassured and confident now.