Posts

By Karen Drucker

Sitting by the pool after a swim looking out on the waters of the Arabian Sea surrounded by palm trees and listening to the sound of tropical birds. I am treating myself to two weeks of Ayurvedic treatment at a place in Kerala recommended by Jochen Becker called Isola di Cocco. Feels like a well deserved rest and commitment to my health after nine intensive days of therapeutic spiral workshops.

We had a four day workshop in Bangalore, making friends with defenses, then a travel day to Delhi to begin a four day on transforming the trauma triangle. Arriving the first morning of the Bangalore group was like greeting old friends. Most of the participants had been with us last year and it was wonderful to see familiar faces!

                                   Bangalore Workshop Participants

                                  New Delhi Workshop Participants

Steven Durost and I had a smooth and beautiful co-leadership dance.

It’s such a privilege to work with someone I love, respect, and feel so met and supported by in all aspects of the work. From planning to timing, switching between team leader and assistant leader in directing the dramas, working with participants and the team, we were like butter.

Sadhana, a team member in Delhi writes, “It’s heartening to see how you have teamed up with Steven to make TSM such a beautiful experience for us. I love to see the way you two adore each other, shift effortlessly into various roles with so much fluidity and understanding and make a remarkable role models of professional partners with touch of Being incorporated into it. Could the universe give us any better gift than having the opportunity to see and experience Dr Steven and Dr Karen! I guess not.. This is the best gift!”

They loved the teaching I designed on working with the trauma triangle with an individual, splitting into groups of three to practice.

We were invited to Rashmi Datt’s house for dinner one night. She is a PAT and is the trainer in the Delhi group. It was very special to go to her house, which took almost an hour in crazy Delhi traffic, but we laughed a lot and enjoyed ourselves.

I’m including a poem written by one of our protagonists the night after her drama. She entitled her drama “Priyanka Owning Her Power.” One of her hopes for the drama was feeling worthy of accepting an award that she would be receiving a few days later. The picture tells the story!!

Lost & Found
by Priyanka Dutta

I was born resourceful,
I was born beautiful!
But somewhere in this life’s journey,
I lost a part of me…

I kept looking for it here & there,
But was left with frustration & despair;
As trust walked away from me,
I lost my ‘confidence key’.

Unlocking my potential became difficult,
And I started believing it was my fault;
I relied on others to feel good,
And to my ‘SELF’ I became rude…

But in my quest, I found a loving community,
Who embraced me & set me free;
I can’t thank you enough,
For reconnecting me to my other half…

Today I again feel resourceful,
Today yet again I feel powerful;
Trust came back to me,
I found my ‘confidence key’.

I feel very inspired, nurtured and enriched by this time in India and the privilege of working with such terrific people. Gratitude to Dr. Jochen Becker for his initial invitation and for inviting us back for the next two years!!

by Steven Durost, PhD, AL

 

Scarves on the floor and saris wrapped around participants.  96 degree heat drying sweat as it comes of the body and fans providing more noise than relief.  This day is the fourth day of a seven day stretch of TSI Psychodrama workshops presentations.  Yesterday, we completed yesterday a three day workshop in Bangalore and then directly after flew an hour to Coimbatore where we slept and woke to be starting today.

Frankly, I like the heat. I have been traveling in India for almost two weeks prior to the workshops and I have been cold.  The temperatures in New Delhi drop fast from 70 to 40 degrees when the sun goes down.  Finally a place I can feel my toes.

Karen Drucker and I stand before our second group of 18 curious and eager participants.  They have all been in psychodrama training for several years under the tutelage of Jochen Becker.  Jochen lives in Germany and has devoted one month out of every three to develop psychodramatists in India.  His years of devotion have paid off in a group of trainees who have skills and a rich understanding of psychodrama.

Karen and I work through the safety structures with spontaneity aimed at building the group sociometry.  We are eager to deepen our understanding of Indian culture and people.  We are aware that we are unaware of our blind spots. So, part as training and part to build our cultural competency, we ask the participants to break into three groups and to develop spectrogram criteria that will help us understand what is important to them.  What do they want us to know about them selves and their world?

Karen and I were struck by the criteria they created and how much it revealed about India and the what was important to the participants.  Here are the criteria we put into action and some of the things we learned about Indian culture.

 

Education Level

The first spectrogram criteria was to “put yourself along the line in relation to the amount of education you have.”  The placement of the participants showed they were a highly educated group with PhDs, accountant, leaders and counselors.  They said that there is a great pressure in India to be educated. In some cases, one person is educated in order that they can then support the family back home.  I asked if there is a lot of shame around the amount of education one has.  I was told there is a great amount of shame if one has not achieved well in school. A woman who is educated can get a better husband and command a larger dowry.  However, there is a doubled edge sword because a woman cannot be more educated than her husband.  “A woman can be educated but only just enough.”  One participant stated she defied her parents and became more educated than they thought was proper.  The depth of this criteria provided a rich understanding of a topic we would not have explored or if we had we would not have done so in the same way.

 

Personal Space

The next criteria was “at home I have little physical space for myself to I have a lot of physical space for self in my house.”  The participants were spread evenly over the line with some saying they have very little personal space at home and needed to go to work or school to have space that is their’s.  And, other participants saying they had a good amount of space.  Discussion about why this was an important criteria followed as participants express that the idea of personal space is different in India…with people on buses and trains pushed up against or purposely pushing against you.  Someone suggested the criteria might have a follow up of “who would want more space versus who is content with the space they have.” Then someone mentioned that asking for more was considered wrong when growing up, so the criteria would be hard to answer because it would work against cultural upbringing.  Others suggested that participants expand on “what do you have in that personal space at home” and “what are spaces outside home where you have space.” And there was one even more interesting criteria being “how much emotional space do you have in this moment?”

 

Feminine and Masculine

The next criteria opened up many possibilities for exploration.  “In this moment, I feel feminine and at the other end in this moment I feel masculine.”  Again the line was balanced out with the majority of the participants more or less in the middle.  All three men were in the middle stating they felt equally in touch with their masculine and feminine sides.  Three women were fully at the masculine end stating they were feeling very pro-active/action-centered/making something happen in their beings.  This criteria’s richness has another level as the god Shiva is sometimes portrayed as half man and half woman.  This portrayal is when Shiva and his wife Parvati are spliced together…showing male and female energy equally.

 

Geographic Area

One other criteria that emerged from the groups is more of a locogram in which participants would stand in positions representing North, South, East and West India.  From these places, participants could talk/show the diversity of cultures in India based on regions.  We were told that each area is different, with different festivals, food, politics, language, landscapes and uniqueness.  Much cultural abundance could be found in this locogram.

Education level, personal space, the masculine and feminine internal connection and geographic area as diverse cultural identity were the criteria that the participants felt gave Karen and I a deeper understanding of the lives they are living.  There was so much to unpack in what they offered and insight into their culture.  Without asking the participants to come up with their own criteria, we would have imposed our own criteria and never had the luxury of unpacking cultural differences that lay in our blind spots.  In the planning for the workshop, we brainstormed spectrogram ideas to attend to social issues, political differences, cultural defenses/values, conflicts and interests.  However, we did not come close to the topics they felt important.  The learning for me is about providing opportunity within the safety structures for groups to have their own time to explore and build the sociometry they feel is important to let them have time to “show” who they are and how they are connected.  I learned more about Indian culture in that 45 minutes than in the two prior weeks of travel, multiple tours and cultural events.  With thought and care, the third TSM safety structure can be used to deepen cultural competency, create human connection and expand the positive impact of a workshop.

A drum sits in the middle of scarves at the end of the last day.  Art pieces depicting the autonomous healing center have been created, shared and integrated.  The end of my time in India is approaching.  I know I will miss the heat.  And, because our hearts were open to each other, I will miss the people from this workshop too.

Dr Steve