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Reflection on Institutional Practice of Creating Cultures of Peace: Experiences from CSRC Nepal

by Subhash Chandra, Nepal

CSRC team practicing Core-Self drawing during a montly regular practice session in August, 2019, Photo by Kalpana

The first Creating Cultures of Peace training was organized in Nepal in November 2018. Nadine from the US, John from Australia, Rosie from New Zealand, and Kalpana and Subhash from Nepal co-facilitated the two consecutive trainings.

Community Self Reliance Center (CSRC) and National Land Rights Forum (NLRF) co-hosted the training; where the majority of the participants were frontline leaders and core management team members of the nonviolent social movement for land and agrarian movement in Nepal.

Later, CSRC team members felt that it would be valuable to institutionalize the peace practice within the organization. The team decided to host a monthly regular practice session at CSRC. Subhash and Kalpana have been co-facilitating a monthly session at CSRC since April 2019.

Subhash asked Jagat, Kalpana and Sundip from CSRC about their reflection on the regular institutional practice of tools for Creating Cultures of Peace in the organization. Here is a summary of their responses:

Jagat Deuja, Executive Director, CSRC

The regular practice sessions have increased the cooperation spirit, non-formal conversation, self-reflection in the organization. It has created supportive atmosphere in the team. All the activists and staff members have got an opportunity to sit together and know each other better. This has helped to build heartily connection between us. The level of anger and stress at workplace is decreased noticeably.

I personally feel lighter as I also get opportunity to share personal and family matters with my colleagues. The stress has decreased. I continue to know more about life and the society. I have become more sensitive about the impacts of my actions and decision over others.

Kalpana Karki, Campaign Manager, CSRC

Regular practice is necessary for creating cultures of peace. It is normal to be familiar with old culture and behavioral patterns in which we were brought up. But the alternative style and approach becomes important to make the life more peaceful. Simple lifestyle supports the cultures of peace. CSRC team has embraced this.

Existing understandings, behavioral patterns and attitudes that are internalized in our personality may have been blocking us from becoming more good and simple human being. Treating people differently based on their hierarchical level and power they hold, rewarding them with more benefits and rewards might affect others negatively in inhumane way. We fear losing control and status and that makes us bias. That can also create injustice to others. If we want to make a peaceful and just family, society and organization, we have to learn to be sensitive about these issues and step up beyond such behaviors. For this, first, we need to know ourselves, then let us open to the transforming power and care others. Power that comes from the simplicity is much more powerful than the power from privilege.  

Realizing these issues, CSRC has been organizing a regular monthly session to continue to practice tools of creating cultures of peace. It has helped our team to connect our work in the process of creating cultures of peace, evaluate our practice in private as well as public life, and enhance our practice. This has enhanced the functioning and mutual kindness among the team members.

The practice has also helped the organization more valuable. CSRC has been doing nonviolent social movement since last twenty five years. Personal lifestyle and practice has special importance in giving life to the organizational values. Therefore, the regular practice session has worked as fertilizer in the organization for practicing cultures of peace.

The practice has helped us to know ourselves, others and the life better. Listening to our conscience has made life simpler and happier. Based on the power for good in me, I have let myself open for the transforming power. Change and happiness is possible from within. Other’s lecture and preaching does not change us. I have stopped offering advice and preaching unless I am asked. I base my statements only on my experiences. Unless we look deep within ourselves, changing others becomes hypocritical, delusion. I am trying to live in present moment and utilizing the transforming power within at the optimum. Trust, honesty and hard work are my lifeline for living. It has made me able to live simple and peaceful life. Avarice for position, prestige and wealth only brings suffering. I have learnt to speak simply and honestly, and base my position on truth.

Sundip Shrestha, Monitoring and Documentation officer, CSR

In 2018, November a seven days creating culture of peace training was organized in Chitwan, Thimura by Friends Peace Teams. I along with my colleagues and seniors from Community Self Reliance Centre (CSRC) participated in this week long training. Unlike other trainings to enhance our skills, it focused on me, my family, friends and most importantly my inner turmoil, distress and sufferings. It provided a path for inner redemption. In the training, a simple task to share our problems yielded better results than any one expected. Everyone slowing started opening him/herself the pouring out of emotions produced a feeling of inner peace within all of us. “Good Listening”, this single life changing art taught me the essence of listening to others which the millennials have lost in transition. Its implications and benefits needs to be internalized by all of us. These seven days taught me the importance of a peaceful mind, for a peaceful body and ultimately a peaceful life.

Like all good things come to an end, the seven days training also ended. We returned back to our daily lifestyle. Home, work and office. With all the learnings within our self. I started practicing the culture of good listening, but, as time passes slowly the teachings started to be shadowed by the workload. However, CSRC internalizing the need of peace within its staff and the land rights movement started organizing monthly follow-up sessions on creating culture of peace from April 2019.  This regular practice session rejuvenated my early learnings. Further, a regular practice session on creating culture of peace including all staff from high management to lower level has resulted in an open environment within the office. Rather than limiting our knowledge to official matters, we started to know and share personal matters with our colleagues. Earlier, used to be succumbed to his/her own problems. I also did not used to share my feelings with others. Now, these regular sessions have provided us with a platform to share our feelings. This practice has lightened the tense atmosphere of the office. In my view, the working rhythm and staff’s motivation has been increased. Most importantly a sense of peace and tranquility has prevailed in our office.

Apart, from the official purpose, the creating culture of peace is an art a person has to implement in his personal life. With his friends, family and loved ones. From the day, I returned from the training have practiced the art of good listening with my parents and friends. It has helped me to know my true self. Creating Culture of Peace had a profound impact on lifestyle as whole. I used to be person always running to become first in the rat race of life agitated when could not. The culture of peace changed my perspective towards life. We are not here to be first or second or even last, but, to live our life the fullest in happiness and peace doing what we love to do, with the people we love.

 Sumitra Thanu, Community Self Reliance Center, Nepal

I attended Creating Cultures of Peace (CCP) workshop in Thimura, Nepal on 12-18 November, 2018. From the beginning to the last day of the workshop I most of the noises and unsettled thoughts were calmed down. In Thimura, we laughed, cried, lots of good and positives things shared and listened for seven days. I returned to workplace with affirmative mind and many tools to practice. I continued my practice at home too. Every morning and evening, I continue to notice my practice. Regular practice has made me feel lighter than before.

I had very hard time for about a month during April and May; I was very much stressed. My efforts to calm down myself and practicing transforming power were failing. Many colleagues at office noticed this situation and its affect. I was also noticing. I could not listen anything and anyone at workplace- I would easily get angry. I either kept silent or sat with anger at office. But any effort I was putting to reduce the stress was not working. 

From March 2019, we have been conducting a regular monthly practice session on each last Sunday. I participated on March and April session. From May, I continued and focused more on my personal practice with better clarity and confidence. Then, I began to feel positive. I cried a lot to discharge my emotions and trauma. That helped me to open up myself for the transforming power. Gradually, I have been sleeping better at night and I feel fresh in the morning when I wake up. I shared this journey and realization with my colleagues at work and asked for apology for any difficulty I may have caused for them in the past. After that day till today, the 15th September, I have not been angry. My sister- who stays with me in a rented room in Kathmandu- has also noticed that. In this way the CCP workshop and regular practice has impacted me a lot. I have also realized that the practice in group is more effective and powerful than alone. And, I believe, consistency and continuity is the most important.