For the training program that I was refreshing last year, I tried to get upset. I started with a base of agreements that reflected the core of social justice in our overall curriculum, and I gave people the opportunity to read and reflect on them in advance. I gave more time to talk, and finally I asked the volunteers to "restore" each of the community agreements, so that we, the moderators and participants, would all share the responsibility of working with all those who had trouble reaching an agreement. And when I say it myself, my news and improvement in the adoption of Community agreements went pretty well. The unification process set the tone for how we communicated in a thoughtful and profound way. We have a responsibility to respect the agreements and our communication has supported a strong and authentic relationship. The International Institute for Restorative Practices provides detailed information and resources to restore justice. It`s their typology of restorative justice. Your work on sequential restoration circuits could be useful in determining alternatives to listening sessions, depending on the situation. There are many ways to involve your team in the process of developing community agreements.
Take the time to evaluate the right factors before designing a process that best matches your group where they are. While many board members and longtime teachers in my yoga community seemed to know that this teacher had sexually abused students in his classrooms for decades when the accusations reappeared, an independent investigation was conducted and conclusive evidence was gathered, verified and shared throughout the community. During this documentation, it became clear that many of his students (who were in turn teachers of low-level students like me) were aware of his abuses during this documentation, and while some of them had in the past chosen to warn some students who wanted to study with him, he had continued to be a revered - even adored - figure in our community. Why do we continue to use listening sessions and community support agreements instead of an alternative? Maybe it`s because we don`t think we have an alternative. I don`t want to say too much about the content of the listening session that was organized to support my yoga community, because I take the privacy rule seriously. But overall, even if there were clear spots, I think the session did me more harm than good. I spent much of the last half hour crying and trembling with anger as I was exposed to a series of i-got-mine-isms, gas and misogyny, simply fair play according to the rules we all approved. In the end, I wasn`t sure about going back to the studio, and it took me a few weeks to get back. I couldn`t even train at home. We have an advisory dialogue -- not to argue or argue, and not just to listen. We want to share our own experience and listen to the perspectives of others, because we know it is necessary to preserve the fabric of our community. In conversation, we offer and obtain perspectives, knowledge and data/theories of consideration and curiosity.
When we debate or argue, we realize ourselves and we realize each other and insist on changes of course. If we grasp ourselves and each other with perspectives, we open the door to those perspectives that can be shared, either by telling ourselves or by inviting others to speak. If we do not yet know what we think, we even offer this so that no one is surprised by our silence.