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Restorying Stress and Sustainability
Essay by David M. Boje, Ph.D. March 7, 2014; revised April 22, 2014
Click for SUSTAINABILITY at NMSU, otherwise read on to see Restorying of Stress and Sustainability.
We are all storytellers. We have our own living story, our stories of our many selves. We are taught from an early age how to story. We grow up with every kind of institution from School, Family, University, the Military, and the Medical establishment storying us. They story our selves, and we many times story our selves very differently.
Each veteran has chosen these paths of storytelling, from family to military, and back again, to university, etc. Each path taken changes family relationships. Civilians may not understand the path of a veteran. The various organizations (Military, University, Medical, etc.) may story the veteran differently. They may not understand the story path.
I find that a way to think about the Selves we story, and the Selves others story, is using the following Storytelling Triangles.
Please click on Storytelling Triangles below to go to those topics below.
Figure 1: 'Fractal' of Relationality; based on work by Tonya Wakefield (2012, 2013). We are doing a book for Routledge on the topic of Fractals.
The model of relationality is about the involvement of our living Body (= Selves + Awareness) with Ecosystem and Others. As a fractal the Relationality Triangle is connected to Others and to Ecosystems through participation, moving, and involvement.
We start combining our relationality triangles with others to form larger fractal patterns.
The relationality Triangles form fractal patterns in a sort of sacred geometry.
By connecting Our-Self in involvement, to participate, and Be moving with Others, in Relationality, we change by expansion of fractal-relationality. Each Now, as Ekhart Tolle calls Now-moment, is a choice point for moving, participate, and involvement. These choice points are what we Create Promote and Allow (CPA). For example, I can promote waves of energy through Peace-Aware-ness and Love-Aware-ness or I can elect to CPA Rejection-, Anger-, Rage-, Revenge-, Jealousy-Aware-ness.
In Relationality, what is your CPA? What are you CREATING in you life world now? How are you PROMOTING that in your life world? What are you ALLOWING into your life world that affects your-SELVES and your AWARENESS?
Every life has cycles of repeating the same stuff, over and over mixed with spirals of difference (for better or worse). To break out of cycles of sameness, means you enter spirals of difference. You stop repeating the same cycle-patterns, stop doing smae stages as before, in same status quo ways. See RHYTHMS of Spiraling Stress & Sustainability. To CPA Rejection-, Anger-, Rage-, Revenge-, Jealousy-Aware-ness is to make a choice to enter a downward-spiral. To CPA Peace-Aware-ness and Love-Aware-ness is to enter an upward-spiral of relationality.
THE RELATIONALITY TRIANGLE EXPLAINED
Let's look more closely at the Relationality Triangle, beginning with Awareness and Embodiment.
Awareness & Embodiment has to do with combining RESTORYING with MEDITATION. There are several meditation methods used with veterans to achieve stress reduction. There are two (& more) ways to look at it. In Western-based psychology, the veterans with stress, are pathologized, then treated and/or medicated, often for life. This is a process Duran (2006) calls the labeling or naming ritual, i.e. naming a 'disorder' or 'syndrome' for each veteran. An alternative is the 'soul wound' which looks at the history of wounding by war, by Veteran's Administration, by Western-based pathologizing (i.e. the naming ritual). Consultants also pathologize their clients. Consultants reflect the micro-tools of their professional trianing into the macro of the community. Consultants pathologize claients with Western perspectives, such as statistics training that further pathologize communities (in this case veteran) into some caluclaiton metrics, and mostly "irrelevant instruments" (Duran, 2006: 113). The research, does this, then publishes the narratives of veteran and community in academic journals, that most communities of veterans never will read. This Duran calls "helicopter research" (p. 113). The reasearcher promises grounded theory, but never actually touches groun, takes off vertically to prescribe theory categories, and uses the research methods to publish or perish.
The new buzzword, Participative Action Research (PAR), is often doing these things. PAR is immersed in Western trianing in Western thought and Western statistical methods, that has removed the veteran's community from the research at the get go. When all the PAR questions are rooted in Western methods to get Western answers, in Wester-defined problems, then what Duran calls the Western-root metaphor is driving the PAR. The PAR instruments do not seem to touch down from helicopeter mode, to get at the 'spirit' of the forces in play. Duran, for example looks at "spirit of alcohol" that is interhenerational in communities (families, tribes) and how in Western pathologizing, the person is labeled by the naming ritual, as alcoholic, as syndrome, as disorder, or as dis-ease. In thise way PAR imposes a Neo-colonial method onto the suffering of the community, without taking any notice whatsoever of the historical, intergenerational trauma.
A 'soul wound' can show up in the fMRI, in the EEG, and in the life histories.
Here in Las Cruces we are using mindfulness meditation in our work with RESTORYING to get at soul healing of veterans.
Figure 2 - Brain at Rest and in Meditation by Monks (source of image)
Professor Davidson's research used functional magnetic resonance imagining (fMRI) to pinpoint the left prefrontal cortex as a brain region associated with happiness and other positive thoughts and emotions. Mediation increases gamma wave brain activity.
"Mind-body therapies, such as meditation, yoga, and tai chi are being used by Veteran's hospitals and military organizations across the country to provide relief from the traumas of war and the mental anguish that follows" (Smeeding et al., 2010).
Our New Mexico-based project combines mindfulness meditation with an embodiment approach to RESTORYING that includes working with horses. Horses don't lie, they reflect or mirror-back your emotions.
The quote in the post is inspiring: “Genuine suffering can touch our hearts honestly to show us our need for greater knowledge. But, in order to benefit from its instruction, we need to look beyond painful experiences and transform the patterns that caused them. Of what value is our present education—in the largest sense—if it does not teach us how to do this? If it does not teach us to be free of suffering and pain?” Tarthang Tulku, Knowledge of Freedom and Time to Change
In the storytelling work I am doing with veterans, we are looking at how to restory the painful experiences and transform them. In restorying work, we do not relive the trauma event, rather we take an embodied and mindful approach to reclaim parts of the Self that have been forgotten or dismissed by the ‘Big stories’ others have that characterize who we are. One way to do this is using Materail Storytelling (Strand, 2012 Book 1 theory - Book 2 method; Strand & Jorgensen, 2013 material storytelling as interactive becoming; Boje, Strand, Jorgensen, 2013; Bøje, D. M.; Jørgensen, Kenneth Mølbjerg; & Strand, Anete M. Camille, 2013) TOWARDS A POSTCOLONIALSTORYTELLING THEORY OF MANAGEMENT AND ORGANIZATION, Journal of Management Philosophy, 2013).
The Big Stories have stereotypes of our character, and sometimes our Little Stories of our Self believe them. The stereotypes and stuck character-Selves are what can be restoried with the aid of a material storytelling methodology. The Big Stories come from Society, Media, Military, University, even from Family. These stereotypes of our character can become self-fulfilling prophecies.
The Little Story of the Self is more than a single event in one’s life. Rather, Little Story is the entire life from birth to death. Big Stories lay down character roles for our own day-to-day living stories.
“Meditation is the foundation of Self-development and well-being: (Tulku, 2006: 8). P-cal, for me, is a way to integrate Self with Awareness, in embodied ways, and helps us find a path of Self-knowledge. The restorying process transforms our everyday experience of Self, Awareness, Ecology, and Others into balance.
For me, restorying is absolutely natural, yet for many, to get started needs an instructor. Restroying is not separate from our Awareness, Self, Eco, and Others. Restorying is our consciousness of all these facets.
By restorying our lives become balance, and with P-cal, and Vipassana, as well as Tai-Chi, restorying can become embodiment-Awareness. This Awareness can expend to Others and Ecosystems. The Eco follows ago-old cycles of sunset an sunrise, birth and death, etc. of all bodies. Others bring us joy, and as the cycle turns, Others may disappoint us. Impermanence.
Veterans have hope that Community of Hope and other programs will solve their problems. Other kinds of projects take up our time and energy, yet seldom realize the fantasy results we held out for them. The Big Story tries to account for what Tulku, 2006: 16) calls “cycles of hope and fear, enjoyment and frustration, pleasure and pain.” Restroying brings about change and transformation when we admit that the cycles are embedded and entangled in the life-world, and that instead of just more hopelessness, the cycle keeps turning to a new possibility. Our four selves provide energy the change the negative habits and can fuel our spiritual growth (ibid, p. 17). “You will find all you need with your own heart” (ibid, p. 17).
THE DIALOGUE OF OUR FOUR SELVES Together Grace Ann Rosile and I, and our university colleagues, are using an embodied restorying approach we call 'HorseSense,' to get at what we call the relation of the Mirror-Self to the Home-Self, Frozen-Self, and Social-Self.
Figure 4: The Four Selves in Dialogue - D. M. Boje, 2014
The Dialogue of the Four Selves is going on all the time in our mind. Under stress, and out of touch with Ecosystem, it becomes disembodied Cacophony, instead of what Mikhail Bakhtin (1981) calls the 'Polyphony' of a healthier and more Peaceful 'Dialogic Imagination.'
The arrows in the 4-Selves Dialogue are what I call Antenarrative is simply put a connectivity of little living stories we live and the bigger grander narratives that fossilize (Boje, 2001, 2008, 2011). More on antenarratives is at ANTENARRATIVE.COM.
Where did the soul wound come from? Is there an intergenerational soul wounding going on in the family, in the military, in the society?
Table 1: 7 STEPS of Restorying with ♥ of Care
1. Recharacterize (authentic Self identity) ‘Time Travel’ to when you were at your best with Sustainability & Stress
2. Externalize (re-label) Make the Problem the old story, not the person. E.g. Mr. Unsustainability, Mr. Stress, etc.; Travel to Sanctuary (safe place) to theatre room for image readjustment
3. Sympathize (benefits) – of old story of Mr. Unsustainability, Mr. Stress; Map the payoffs
4. Revise (consequences) – Map the Organization & Economic influences of old story/old stereotypes of you as Unsustainabile/Stressed
5. Strategize (Little Wow Moments of exception to grand old story); Time travel to reclaim best of you in Being Sustainable & Unstressed
6. Restory (rehistoricizes the Grand old Story by collecting Little Wow moments into New story)
7. Publicize (support networking) e.g. letter writing with supporters of your ‘New Story’ of Sustainability Awareness and Balance Selves
Restorying begins with♥-of-Care. It begins with mindfulness, embodiment practices to understand the FOUR SELVES: Social-Self, Frozen-Self, Mirror-Self, and ♥-Self. These four selves are in dialogue, continual conversation, in our mind's eye.
Restorying moves you out of cacophony into polyphony (the symphony of voices conversing in our mind). Restorying is combined with mindfulness skill training so that the 'new story' is supported by dialogues among your Selves that connect you to Ecosystem and to Others in ways of Awareness, I call 'PeaceAware.'
The Embodied Restorying process belongs to the client, not to the facilitator. Colonization, WEstern-based pathologizing can result in a Grand Narrative characterization, a naming ritual that leaves the client disempowered. Deconstructing the Grand Narrative is central to Embodied Restorying. Little Wow Moments of dateable exceptions to the Grand Narrative form the recovered resources and courage to Restory. This brings Awareness + Selves in balance so the Body heals its Soul Wounds. Embodied Restorying looks at the Other, and Ecosystem. The Other of Western-based pathologizing, the way the VA and University with all good intentions, fruth the colonizing process that interferes with ehaling. The point is an Embodied Restorying teaches tools the facilitate indivudal and community healing processes.
As we meditate, our body (Selves+Awareness) is in communication with the four elements: earth, water, air, and fire. As we sit and meditate, the base of our spine connects to the earth. The saliva is water as we breath. The air that enters and leaves our lungs by way of the nostrils is another connection. Finally, the energy center of fire is in the navel (chakra) area of the body. Our body is in constant communication with the ecosystem, and that contact is fundamental to our sustainability, the balance of our body with its environs.
ECOSACRED is a posthumanist understanding of ecology for its sacredness. Living things are spirited and interconnected. What is Living Story? A living story is something I have developed in relationship to dominating narrative. I first encountered living story when I began my colleagueship with Kaylynn Twotress in 1997, and the idea took on more aliveness with Jo Tyler's work on story-aliveness. Living story developed more materiality in working with Cajete's and Vizenor's work on materiality in relation to story. Jack Appleton and I have more on the sacredness of Ecosystem is at ECOSACRED.NET. SUSTAINABILITY - NMSU is 'Greening the Curriculum' We are using 7 restorying steps to do institutional change.
Restorying can help move out of Stress and Strife into Peacefulness, PeaceAwareness.
HORSESENSE Is A Way to Learn how Horses see Your Mirror-Self
Figure 3: Nadhion, and Arabian Stallion, looking in the mirror, at Self. HorseSenseatWork is a posthumanist understanding of inter-species communication between horses and humans that can help people relate to their Ecosystems and to Others, including Other species, Organization worlds, and so forth. Grace Ann Rosile Ph.D. does equine skill training as part of Restorying. See HorseSenseatWork.COM.
Our Four Selves interact with Others and that includes Organizations. Our SELVES and EMBODIMENT are apart of the oneness of the body. Our bodies come to work and to deployment in theatres of combat. Each cell of the body remembers stress. At the same time organizations have their ways of Narrating about the Selves. The old military narrative was 'suck it up,' 'man up' and move on. The new military veteran includes use of mindfulness as well as restorying.
THE De-Stress & Stress SPIRALS
Figure 3 - The De-Stress & Stress Spirals © D. Boje Mar 13, 2014
The Green Upward Spiral is a way to manage stress naturally by relating Awareness to the Selves. The Red Downward Spirals what happened as you ignore Awareness and Selves, such as Take-a-Break cues, and how physiologically, the body breaks down. Initially, and in short-term the body-selves can be a High, and in long-term get addicted to the Rush of stress, but eventually the body will shut down. This Double-Spiral model is based on the work of Ernest Lawrence Rossi, Ph.D.(1991) The 20 Minute Break: Using the new Science of Ultradian Rhythms (with David Nimmons; NY: Putnam Books) - - - has written about how our body rhythms go through a natural cycle to reduce stress, and how stress adapts to our environment (flight & flight) in short bursts, while when we ignore our body-stress rhythms, we run the risk of natural stress-destress cycles, plunging into a downward spiral. In the above figure I put Rossi's (1991) model into four steps of de-stressing that take you into upward spiral, and four steps of stressing out that plunge you into depleted health and performance efficacy.
UPWARD SPIRAL of De-STRESSING
Step 1 - Take-A-Break Cues. Awareness of the cues helps.
The Cues means its time to take a break: stomach rumbles, feel need to stretch legs, bladder says full, heave a sigh, mind wanders, memory lapses, feel spaced out, feel depressed, feel vulnerable, making more mistakes, and so forth. Listen to the Body Cues, have Awareness. Take a walk, go take care of body needs (bathroom, food, nap).
Step 2 - Breath Meditation. Vipassana works.
Take-a-Break and Meditate. You can meditate while you a sitting in a meeting, walking you dog, jogging, waiting in line, and most anyplace and anytime. Concentrate on the breaths going in and out. The first phase of Vipassana is concentrating on the nostrils, on how the air feels on your upper lip as you breath in and out. As your awareness wanders, gently and kindly bring it back to the nostrils and upper lip. If needed, count the breaths: count of six for in-breath, and six for out-breath. You can do this silently, and only you will know you are meditating. If some thought or experience comes up (good or bad), just place it in your imagination on a leaf and let if float away. Let any push or pull float away. In Breath Meditation, Be in non-attachment. This will let you Take-a-Break, and retrun refreshed.
Step 3 - Selves & Awareness Healing
In our discussion of the Four Selves, we noted that Selves and Aware-ness constitute the Body. The Body is in communication with all its senses with the Ecosystem and Others. Shift Awareness to your relation to the Selves. Notice what is the relation of Mirror-Self, Social-Self, Heart-Self, and Frozen-Self. Take-a-break (step 1) gives you time and space for SELVES-AWARENESS. Shift your Awareness from inner-space of Selves, to the Environs, to the Ecosystem and to Others around you, in the room, in the building, in the region you are staying, the earth, sky, air, water, heat (fire), the energy all around and through you.
Step 4. 4 Rs: Rest Relax, Replenish, & Repair
As you move into Upward Spiral of De-Stressing, the 4 R's are very important. In Vietnam, I worked in R&R, providing facilities, activities, services that helped soldiers from the front lines to get Rest and Relaxation. Soldiers could Replenish and Repair. This consisted of a Gymnasium, with racquet ball courts, weight rooms, basketball courts, etc. I did some life guarding at the Olympic size swimming pool. There was also a Service Club for dancing, music, games. We had several libraries, a bowling alley, and crafts center (photography, jewelry making, painting, drawing). I was Company Clerk for six months, and then ran the Golf Pro Shop, putting on tournaments, etc.
When anyone goes into workaholic mode, and ignores the steps of Take-a-Break cues, Breath Meditation (or prayer), Selves & Awareness Healing, and the 4 R's, then they are out-of-balance, headed into the Downwards Spiral.
DOWNWARD SPIRAL of STRESS - The Abyss
Step 1 - Ignore Take-a-Break Cues
Working without a break. Pushing yourself in school, university, work, or military. This means you are not being in Awareness. Without it, the signals the body is sending your Selves get ignored. You are burning your reserves.Rossi (1991) talks about the message molecules between what I am calling Selves and Awareness, getting out of whack, out of synchrony. I can get engrossed in writing, teaching, or whatever. It feels good for a while. I am in peace, joy, and self-control. Then after about 90 minutes, there are Take-a-Break cues (bladder full, stomach rumbles, legs hurt, sigh, yawn, mind wanders, cannot remember names, etc.). I need to take a break, take the puppies for a walk, go have a snack. My Mirror-Self starts to argue with my Heart-Self. As Rossi (1991: 36) exclaims, "Look, the work you have to do is really important, stop goofing off, no time for rest!" My Heart-Self says, 'Hey dude, you are winding down. Keep it up and its step 2 for you.
Step 2 - Stay High on Hormones
The Selves and Awareness connection gets over-stressed by the over-work. There are 'stress messengers' I am ignoring. I am still pumped up ready like a predator, for flight, or like a prey for flight. As I go into Fight-Flight, my hear rate speeds up, my reflexes kick in, more oxygen is pumped to muscles, I am using the body's storied fuel from liver, etc. This is all very well and good for a few moments. After 90 minutes, the rhythm is depleted, and its very risky to keep pressing on. The Selves get disconnected from the stress messages, and Awareness is cut off. Anger, rage, starts to rise from the Frozen-Self. There is an energy flow, an energy surge, and the adrenalin kicks in. The body's natural opiates kick in. The problem is in the Stay High on Hormones step, you are cut off from Others, the signals they send to chill out, cool down. You are cut off from Ecosystem, everything is Fight or Flight, nothing relaxing, replenishing, refreshing is coming through to your Selves and your Awareness.
Step 3 - Addicted to the Rush
I feel the rush of energy. Runners know all about it. I ran for hours a day, long-distance running, 5 and 7 miles, to get the Rush. You run to get the rush of energy. You are high on hormones. It is intoxicating. Run raster. Manic, speed-up, the adrenalin rush. Running for pleasures, for fitness, to prepare for Marathons. All well and good. This is running in your entire life to get the Rush. Flashes of rage, short-temper, some narcissistic behavior. Its great for the workaholic to rush too. In Step 3, addiction has kicked in. The messenger molecules (Adrenaline) have been colonizing the body. You are oblivious to the cues to Take-a-Break. Bliss comes from all those beta-endorphins, and you continue to override the R&R signals. You are deep into the downward slope of the spiral of stress. The hormonal messenger molecules try to keep your performance up to par. But, dysfunction has set in and the performance i dropping quickly. You can't concentrate to read, write, think, or speak coherently with the skill you once possessed. Your five senses start to diminish. You don't see things as others do. You are unalbe to smell, taste, or touch with skill and sensitivity, as others do, or as you once did. It's all diminishing quickly. You are making embarrassing mistakes. You cannot seem to remember tames. The typos increase in your writing. There are gaffes, and you are careless.
Step 4 - Body Rebels & Shuts Down
As you become more overwhelmed by the life world's simplest demands, the body rhythms are so disrupted they cannot self-heal naturally. Natural healing, is the path of the Upper Spiral. It may be too late to shift to the Upper Spiral path. As the body stress hormones pill up, and those stress-messenger molecules course through the body, their signals and cues ignored, out of your Awareness, then some major health issues come to bill you.
- Ulcers in stomach
- Muscle aches
- Heart dysfunctions
- Colds, flu, Bronchitis, Asthma, etc.
- Shorter and shorter life span
- Psychosomatic illnesses including sleep problems, hallucinations, and it gets worse.
BRIEF REVIEW OF ALTERNATIVE MINDFULNESS APPROACHES BEING USED WITH VETERANS
1. VIPASSANA - means clear insight. It is over 2,500 years old in Asia, was forgotten for 500 years, and recently was reintroduced by some people from Burma, who had secretly passed it on from generation to generation. In New Mexico, in Las Cruces, we are working with veterans using a combination of Restorying and Vipassana.
The practice is 10 hours a day, for 10 days. See TED Talk on its use in Prisons in Middle East and Alabama.
There are 'free' Vipassana training programs around the world, in most languages. A donation is given by participants.
2. MBSR - Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn founded Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). He is a researcher at the University of Massachusetts. See YouTube
MBSR is similar in many ways to Vipassana. Both use gentleness to coax, what I call the Frozen-Self to thaw a bit at a time through practices of embodied awareness. This next example is how MBSR is used in corporate settings such as Google Corporation.
3. HONORING THE PATH OF THE WARRIOR - a program fiscally sponsored by the San Francisco Zen Center, that has been assisting post-9/11 and Persian Gulf veterans in making a positive transition from military to civilian life since 2007. Veterans talk abou the process in next YouTube:
4. Project Welcome Home the Troops - See Vimeo that explains the next clip. It is a University of Wisconsin research project. Professor Emma Seppala heads up the project. It is based on Professor Richard J. Davidson's (Center for Investigating Healthy Minds YouTube) approach to mindfulness and neuroscience. They have a liberal university IRB that allows films of the Veterans in sessions, and interviews, as well as surveys being filled out to be aired in Vimeo.
It is a more rapid breath work, with more vigorous kinds of yoga.
Here is a YouTube showing the technique
"Lee explained to HuffPost Live host Ricky Camilleri how he would watch himself get angry and balling up his fists and he knew something was wrong just by the way he interacted with the world. And then he became part of a study on meditation and the brain. To find out how meditation affected him watch the video above.
Stephen Lee is one of the people featured in 'Free the Mind', a new documentary about the brain, neuroscience and meditation."
PURPLE MOUTAIN INSTITUTE MINDFUL VETERANS PROJECT - offers free Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) classes for veterans in Tucson, AZ. More info.
QUANTUM STORYTELLING gives you info on YouTube "Quantum Storytelling: Blacksmithing Art in the Quantum Age" - produced by Grace Ann Rosile and David M. Boje. Boje narrates the video. QUANTUM STORYTELLING is also the name of our Annual Conference, held in Las Cruces, New Mexico, around my birthday, December 17th.
SUSTAINABILITY @ New Mexico State University - this is the 'Greening the Curriculum Project."
Standing Conference for Management and Organizaitonal Inquiry Annual conference held on East Coast of US around March/April. Join the Facebook sc'MOI Discussion page
TAMARAJOURNAL.COM draws on Critical Management Theory and Postmodern Organization Science and is based in story/narrative and other qualitative study. It combines critical theory as well as postmodern theory and postcolonial theory and critical pedagogy with praxis. And one that seeks a higher ethics of global production and consumption.
"The ♥-of-Care of the Life-Path of Organizations Double-Spiral-Antenarrative choices through Landscapes of Quantum Fields" What the 'bet' sort of antenarratives (spiral- & rhizomatic-assemblage-antenarratives) offer is encounters with ethics of care, ethics of answerability, in the whole life-path of once-occurrent Being as Bakhtin calls it, or the care for potentiality of Being-a-whole-Self as Heidegger (1962) calls his ontological approach. Both are about a life-path rather than a mere epistemic (past narrative) or an ontic (objectification of present). The 'bet' is on 'avenir' shaping and creating a field of potentialities, that also arrive ahead to shape past and present. This is a radical, non-linear approach to quantum storytelling.