Asia West Pacific

Self-Care and Self-Reflection for the Experiment with Transforming Power

By Subhash Chandra

Transforming Power Mandala in Nepali

Kalpana, Ratna, Santosh and Subhash are Cultures of Peace facilitators in Kathmandu, Nepal. Subhash is a peace activist representing FPT-AWP in Nepal. Kalpana is a land rights activist, Ratna is a mental health activist, and Santosh is a peace activist. During the lockdown, we are meeting about three times a month online as companions to support each other on our experiment with Transforming Power in our personal and public life.

Violence has power- destructive, degenerative and degrading. Nonviolence also has power- to stop/transform/stand up against violence. Whereas, Transforming Power has power to transform ourselves, others, and the situation we are in. As peace practitioners, we choose to experiment with Transforming Power.

In our companion group, we realized that self-care and self-reflection are keys to prepare ourselves for the experiment with transforming power. A consistent and mindful discipline of self-care prepares us physically and mentally to face the day, even if it is a harder day. 

Self-reflection requires an honest observation on who I am and how I relate with others and nature. Am I nurturing or degrading self and other lives? Am I self-centred or able to see and feel interconnectedness with the rest of humanity and nature? We find these questions have more effect and are more nurturing when asked in a group where we receive sincere and judgement-free attention from good companions. Practicing alone can be drowning, possibly leading to self-centeredness or self-isolation. Practicing in a group can create an upward spiral.   

We plan to continue to explore self-care and self-reflection in the coming weeks and understand better how this supports our ongoing experiment with the Transforming Power in our personal, professional, public, and natural worlds. Self-care and self reflection take time, but can be very rewarding. We will continue to share our experiences.

Notes from the Team

Good companion groups enrich us. Self-care and self-reflection benefit from good attention from others and to transforming power within and beyond us. Self-care and self-reflection prepare us for liberation and discernment. Kins wrote, “I come to my companion group reminding myself that I am whole and willing to be changed, to be vulnerable and honest to share. I bask in the idea of letting myself be in the group, trusting in the feedback with less control.” When we don’t take care of ourselves, we lose touch with our core selves and are unavailable and unprepared. Healing can take a long time, but this is the beauty of companion groups— to be open, let go, accept attention without explanation, and stay relaxed and non-anxious. 

Self-care contradicts past painful experiences. We cannot keep our pain and get better too. When we are not ready to give up our pain, we relive it through self-neglect and self-harm. But when we are ready, taking good care of ourselves contracts the pain, allows for healing, and accepts the grace and pure gift of life and its transforming power. 

Receiving good attention also contradicts trauma, which sets in when we were overwhelmed because we felt caught alone and unable to face the situation. “Doing it alone” becomes a reenactment of the trauma. The healing power of good attention from others and self-care, allows us to be self-reflective. 

Self reflection requires vulnerability, a willingness to be honest to ourselves about our mistakes and weaknesses to learn, change and ask for help. It also requires emotional healing and maturity, because many of us were severely shamed or punished at home or school for any mistake or weakness. Self-reflection also develops the skill to step outside ourselves to see from an outside perspective. This skill increases our empathy, which in turn increases our capacity for self-reflection. Our ability to do this makes us better able to adapt to changing or difficult situations. Integrity increases also, when we can reflect accurately on our core beliefs and values and honestly see the ways they are, or are not reflected in our lives.

Privilege blinds us to others’ experiences, which limits empathy and the ability to self-reflect. By definition, we cannot see what we cannot see. So we need the feedback of others and to take their experiences and perspectives seriously to break out of our narcissism. We must watch out that self-reflection does not become circular self-centered thinking to avoid real life issues. Self-reflection is not being overly self critical or judgmental or another way to ruminate, self-obsess, or avoid action. To self-reflect in a healthy manner, we see mistakes as opportunities for learning, yeah! We see weaknesses as opportunities to help one another and value others’ strengths that builds community, yeah! We see the ways we hurt others or the natural world as opportunities for change, apology, and forgiveness, yeah! Good self-reflection leads to understanding, perspective, insight, discernment, and integrity through right action.