Autumn Season – Power Dynamics The ground we covered We at the CitizensLab are on a collective quest and action-research to cultivate new forms of relating to one another, of taking care of our commons and reinventing forms of democracy. We see the need for deep cultural transformation and radical changes in our social and individual behaviors and social norms. It is therefore imperative to address the topic of power dynamics, look deeper into the power relations we are constantly producing or being affected by. We entered the Autumn Season of our online Learning Journey, the time where we harvest the sweet fruits of the summer and prepare to let things die that don’t serve us and the world anymore. It’s a time where we learn to navigate the unknown and create space to be able to listen with new ears, see with new eyes and invite in the wisdom of our bodies. For each session, we invited a wisdom holder to share a little about their own story and relationship to this big topic as a way of inviting different perspectives. Molly Costello_The Power is You The Power is Me Awa Ndiaye`s spoken word poems and her life experiences invited us to reflect, understand and see the intersectional and systemic dimensions of these different forms of power. The poems are full of satire and are playing with different ways of framing narratives and experiences. grafik(2) Awa identified 3 core areas, where we all have work to do: Address systemic racism and recognise our own privileges: “How can we start having conversations and create spaces among our communities, friendships and kinship on these topics? CitizensLab · Awa Ndiaye_Black Privilege Understand oppressive systemic power: think “Who has the power to do the labeling and the framings in our society? We live in such homogeneous spaces that for some people to exist is to resist. CitizensLab · Awa Ndiaye: When I grow up – what I want to be? Recognise the invisible dimensions of power, and overcome our fears to access our inner-powers. We need to start decolonising our consciousness, as we have internalized the same system we are trying to dismantle. We have to unlearn how we have been told to see the world and how we see ourselves to start a process of individual and collective liberation. Camille Barton To get deeper into the topic of power dynamics we invited Camille Barton, an interdisciplinary artist, educator and embodiment researcher, who uses afrofuturism to imagine creative interventions towards systems change. Camille pointed out the importance of placing our bodies at the center of social change and transformation, to overcome the cartesian dualism that sees a separation of body-mind. They emphasized the need to become more aware of our embodied wisdom and the embodied interactions that inform our way of making-sense and interacting with the living world. Rupa Marya, Inflammed. Deep medicine and the anatomy of injustice Camille presented the legacy of colonialism and how it is structuring most of the ways in which we interact with the world today. They emphasised how its power-over structures show up in the systems of oppression of supremacism and capitalism, generating the individual and collective traumas we have to start healing from. It became clear that we need to embrace a holistic-embodied approach that supports us in having agency and making the shifts and changes in regards to how these legacies of colonialism show up in our interactions with other people, the more-than-human and the ecosystem. Camille concluded with speaking to the importance of grief tending practices. Feeling grief is a natural by-product of the oppressive power dynamics we find ourselves in and we need to make space to feel this grief in order to heal. Power and relationships We welcomed psychotherapist Yitzhak Mendelson to dive into the topic of power and relationships with us. Together we looked at how we can balance and bring back harmony in power dynamics and how we can, seeing power as energy flow in how we relate to one another. This can help us to notice when we are feeling powerless or are exercising power-over someone or something and we are creating an imbalance of power energy. How can we learn and practice recharging our own power? Showing our vulnerabilities, practicing radical honesty, trust, being focused and present are some of the qualities to cultivate and practice re-balancing our power dynamics. We told stories big and small of our experiences of how power can destabilize relationships to the point of breaking them, while at the same time having the power to transform them – it is a very fine balance but the collective honesty is refreshing. Anita Paalvast introduced the art and practice of Aikido, a modern Japanese martial art form that can support our daily practice of feeling a more grounded and centered ability to handle the powers within ourselves and around us. Aikido is about finding harmony and going beyond the fight, the triggers, the conflict, not only with our thoughts and minds but also and primarily with our bodies and emotions. "2010.09.11 Candace Howard, You'll Be Missed" by Julia L. Kay is licensed under CC BY 2.0 We all have a dominant way of reacting to triggers as primary responses (fight, flight, freeze) and emotions that influence how we interact and relate. Aikido principles, mindset, and skills offer the ability to practice inner calmness, to be able to focus on what is really happening in the situation, to be able to make choices on what to do or not to do. Aikido enables us to practice the capacity of being centered in a moment that triggers us to expand our awareness and ability to make choices. What practices do we use to strengthen our personal power? What we practice, is what we become. What we do all day long is practicing too, our patterns are what we practice. We collectively brainstormed the following practices: Staying in integrity, setting boundaries, meditation, yoga, creative writing, speaking clearly and honestly, walking/jogging, engaging with problems, taking time for creativity, removing digital distractions, praying, daily gratitude practice, identifying the inner trauma that lies behind the triggers, noticing body sensations.