Asia West Pacific

Continuing the Practice Back Home

Reflections from the 7th International Cultures of Peace Training

By Meghan Jessica Stewart-Ward, Aotearoa (New Zealand)

 Meghan is standing in the middle with while shirt together with friends.

On day one, we went through the cooperative agreements together. That was really meaningful and helped us all to understand what each agreement was about. At home, I read this daily. That really helped with the message of the training to remain with me and helped me to see areas in my everyday life that could be changed by this training.

I also considered it very important when we did the core self activity. We did it once, but throughout the training, we were often reminded to go back to our core selves. After the workshop, I had to remember that everyone has a core self. Especially when I found myself getting annoyed or angry with someone, I remembered that they had their own core self and to see that within them before acting.

Another great and helpful activity was concentric circles. It was unique sharing with a different person each time, and it required us to feel safe sharing with each other, which we did, well, at least I did anyway. This is made it possible for me to encounter the real task of listening and its importance. Now that I realize listening is harder and more important than what I thought of before the training, I am practicing this tool with my family back home.

I was very impressed by the contributions of my fellow participants. The stories they shared were real. I got to hear stories of lives changed and the impact of violence on their lives.

The River of Life session was so special. I have never thanked my younger, past self before. It helped me see the past in a new light. Also, hearing all the people shouting “ya magnet” in Russian was pretty cool, and the joy on everyone’s faces was so infectious.

It was incredibly powerful to be reminded that “nothing you say or do can make you more or less valuable than you are right now.” I never heard that before, and it moved me.

Being back home, I am using affirmation names with my family, and I find it very helpful.

If I had to name one challenges when I got back home and practiced the tools it would be the ‘because’ part of the I-Message. I could have spent more time on that. I’m not sure I understood it fully. I find it hard to come up with concrete examples of the consequences of someone’s actions or words when my initial impulse is likely to be to write an emotional ‘because’ rather than an anticipated consequence that triggers my emotion.

I found it hard to practice emotional discharge, but I think we need a good companion to practice that with. I don’t have a good companion back in Aotearoa NZ yet. But one day…

Meghan sharing her thoughts