Monday, March 21, 2011

The Initiation of Warrior without weapons

Dear Beloved Community, I’ve been procrastinating on completing a blog post for my entire time in Brazil, out of being completely stunned as to how to give you an adequate picture of this warriors initiation. There is more to share than I can say, yet here is my account of 5 weeks of learning, stretching, growing and waking up.

After a car, bus, train, two plane rides, another bus, taxi, and handsignals later, I arrived into the arms of my friend Ariane, a member of the Elos team, and of the community of buzzing Warriors on a afternoon coffee break. Completely exhausted, stunned, and joyous I started to settle into my room later to meet my room-mate, Leticia, who spoke Portuguese, and I, English. It wasn’t until the very end of the program that we both realized we were passionate about dance as a healing form. ( ;

We kicked off the first few days getting to know each other, and building trust, respect, curiosity, and translating (almost) everything from English to Portuguese and vice versa. Sim, eu apredi um pouco ou portugues. “Oi! Tudo bem?” Settling into our home, CEFAS, for 35 days with  65 participants and at around 15 on Instituto Elos staff definitely took a few days, and those days were filled with fresh papaya, yogurt, cake and coffee breakfasts and cleaning groups in the name of farm animals.(Baaaa)

Working in the favela communities

On the 4th day I began to work in Tiro Naval, in Santos, while the other 2/3 of the Warriors worked in Pantal, and Mangeseco. I felt really strong and supported by the leadership and warmth of the Elos team and the other participants, as I prepared to enter a community where I didn’t speak their language. As our time went on there, the language Barrior was extremely humbling and challenging. I loved the experience of reaching my edge however, and as I discovered later on, something like “only 10% of language is verbal”. (Especially with children).

Working through the Elos Methodology experientially, I’ll let the photos below depict our journey through The Gaze, The Affection, The Dream, The Care, The Miracle, The Celebration, and The Re-Evolution. (These photos are in no particular order, but if you are more interested in the details of this process, I recommend reading the Blog that was written by the Elos Staff as were in the program

Photos Taken by Julia Toro, of the Elos Institute

Greatest lessons from the Methodology 

Gratitude Attitude/ “Active Appreciation”
Learning by doing
Being a Diverse Co-creative environment Games, Fun, Enthusiasm
The Role of Conversations/ Socializing
The Role of looking for Abundance, Dreams
Collaborative social technologies

I was so deeply moved by the methodology and the results of such a non-traditional way of approaching social entrepreneurship, and community building.  In honor of the last stage: re-evolution, I'll be posting my DREAM, and my NEXT STEPS (many of which have already been taken) shortly. I'm in a deep place of choice and feel like I'm open to co-creating with the entire Universe sometimes. In short: I'm totally committed to these tools and this community of Warriors worldwide. This Generation IS waking up...and is capable of transforming the world RIGHT NOW.

Elements Games
Another large part of the Warriors Program was the Indigenous Games, which "awakened and strengthens in us the qualities of a Warrior through Elemental Cooperative Games. In this Indigenous Pedagogy from the Tupi language, the elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and the 5th element) are what we are created from and can continue to learn from. Connecting to the more-than-human world in this way was deeply important for my experience. 

 The Elements and their names in the Tupi language of our teacher, Kaka Wera Jacupe


The Game: Collaborate as gender separated teams to carry two different heavy logs to complete a circle. Also to do a lap as individuals around the circle with the log! 


 Standing together to learn about perseverance in the cold water for two hours with a song and dance.


Learning about the fire element was deeply satisfying as we were working so hard in the communities, and needed to deepen our quality of focus, action, and transcendence. We all walked over smoldering coals, and I obviously have a bit more to learn as I was one out of a few who was burned. ( ;


The air element was all about Freedom, expansion, and inclusion.  I was sick this day, but the Warriors flew on the hands of each other, used their bamboo staffs to create noise and breathe

THE 5TH ELEMENT:  Nhandereko
 For this game, we first "warmed up" by playing some passing games with bamboo sticks, and "tapping our hearts" by running up to each other, yelling, and being awake enough to STOP right before we got to each other.

The second part was spent in a alcove of two enormous, and mythic rocks from the mountain side where we spent time connecting to our own sources. One precious hour was spent singing and sitting alternatively, as the Warriors were finally coming to the completion of their initiation. 

 "The Divine essence that dwells in every living being. From it unfolds the four elements and all forms of manifestation. It's main features are love, compassion, and hidden power waiting to be awakened."
The Qualities of the 5th element are self observation, inner fire, and personal essence. 

In addition to these games, the Warriors were given seeds to disseminate and continue to plant, grow, and harvest year by year, project by project, and to use in our work as change agents of conscious co-creation.

These seeds included:
Non-violent communication
Cooperative Games
Circular Dances
Open Space Technology
World Café

 A web of cultures: language, communication, curiosity, and hugs! 
A huge part of this experiment in Inspired Youth all smooshed together living in a small building for 35 days was the unique ups and downs. Everything being translated back and forth to English or Portuguese, but many of us only spoke one language. All I have to say is that I look forward to learning Spanish or Portuguese more adequately in the coming years. It did, however take a lot of humility and courage to just be ok with being ignorant, often. From now on I do heavily vouch for the power of hugs, however, as a cross-cultural expression of what communication is most essential.

Unlike college where my experience of close proximity started to bring me pain and the need for solitude, this was a radical shift for me, personally. I found that I could spend much more of my day in close proximity with others because of how ignited we all were (most of the time) with what we were doing. This isn't to say that I didn't break down crying multiple times in overwhelm with the presence of so much fire. ( ; But this also yielded huge breakthroughs: from in connecting to others who were feeling the same, to witnessing how much fire I could actually stand. (And where I so often choose to not even test my capacity). 

The ideas of diversity and respect were, for me, inherent in the program's goals of learning how to cooperate as a large group from all around the world. I was curious about my own wishes for us to learn how to really hear each other, but I eventually ended up learning one of the most important and basic aspects of NVC much more deeply: it only takes one person and I don't need to control what anyone says for my response to be conscious and compassionate. Talkin' 'bout some freedom!

What made this experience powerful, impactful, and why we, as participants could be called Warriors without weapons, is because of the intensity to which we were invited to play the game of changing the world, open our hearts and minds, paired with the force of everyone’s commitment to discover ways to cooperation and co-create.

What I loved about this program and rite of passage was the degree to which “social entrepreneurship” or “community organizing” called upon the backbone of myth and metaphor to inspire, empower and call us all forth with the fire of our heart. It touched upon a part of all of us, (literally, the part of our evolved brain that thrives on being a part of something larger than ourself) that I can say was critical in doing the work we were doing.

I would absolutely recommend this experience to anyone itching be in a transformative environment, AND in radical action. The Community of Tiro Naval, the Warriors and Elos leaders have all transformed my life in ways I could not have expected. It was exactly what I was looking for in terms of my dreams of being in a hands on experience and I can't wait to continue more of Elos's "Oasis Games"; short versions of the WWW Program that are only a week or two in the Sacramento and Oakland areas this spring and summer! 

Arriving back onto North American soil, onto California soil, and into the hearts and bodies of my community here in Oakland was a moment of awareness and a inner calling to “Wake Up” to the opportunities of my life, here and now. When I literally touched the ground of Oakland, a flood of emotion started to fill my body, and I experienced an openness and wild gratitude for my country in a way I never quite have before.

To all that made this experience possible for me through their Donations and Support, I thank you so deeply!


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1 comment:

  1. wow Miriam. sounds like such an incredible experience. beautiful pictures too!!