A remarkable discussion with Stephen Beyer, a true elder on the art of devout listening and living in this world in ‘right relationship.’ This is simply a beautiful show.
Stephan V. Beyer, Ph.D., J.D., is a well-known writer and speaker on shamanism and spirituality. He is also a community builder, peacemaker, and carrier of council. He has been trained and certified in many areas of circle processes, mediation, and nonviolence and has offered peacemaking workshops to a wide variety of audiences, from therapists to theologians, and at Montessori, charter, alternative, and public schools. He has served as a Lecturer in the Department of Criminal Justice at Chicago State University, teaching undergraduate courses and graduate seminars in restorative justice and in the theory and practice of nonviolent resistance. He lives in Chicago.
People are afraid of conflict: it is something “bad” that must be managed and resolved. In the face of conflict we focus only on facts–who’s at fault and who should be punished–rather than seeking to restore harmony. But conflict is inevitable and presents an opportunity to establish deeper connections with others. By learning to speak honestly and listen devoutly, we can overcome our culture’s hierarchical and punitive approach to conflict. We can learn to relate to each other in a sacred manner and create relationships and communities that are egalitarian, liberating, and transformational.
Revealing that we are all peacemakers at heart, Steve Beyer details how to approach life with a listening heart and create a safe and sacred space for communication: the peacemaking circle, centered on the talking stick. Whoever holds the talking stick gets to speak. There are no interruptions, no questions, no challenges, no comments. People speak one at a time, honestly from their hearts, and they listen devoutly with their hearts to each person who speaks. And, as Beyer shows, the effect can be miraculous.
The author explains how to apply this practice with groups large and small to deepen relationships, heal old wounds, and restore harmony among families, spouses, classmates, coworkers, and communities. Sharing stories from his work as a peacemaker, he offers exercises for new talking stick circles, ceremonial ways to begin each circle, and tools to ensure the telling of complete stories in cases of conflict. He addresses the nature of apology, forgiveness, and the urge for revenge, and he explores the spiritual challenges faced by those who walk the peace path.
Exploring the shamanic roots of the talking stick practice, the author extends the lessons of the healing circle and the listening heart from our homes, schools, and communities into our relationship to spirit and the Earth.