Self-Care for Peacebuilders
"Peace is not the absence of noise, trouble or hard work. It is to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart."
This week, students from colleges all over the US have come together for Northwestern University Conference on Human Rights, "the largest undergraduate student-organized and student-attended conference on human rights in the United States." The conference has been extremely well-organized, the participants engaged, and the panelists inspiring in their breadth and depth of knowledge and experience. I was honored to be invited as a panelist, to talk about Survivors' Truths' model for working with survivor communities to create media that promotes peace and reconciliation.
In addition to making presentations, panelists were invited to facilitate breakout groups, where participants have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss issues raised in the plenary sessions. This afternoon, after discussing cultural differences in understanding of the self and manifestations of mental health problems as well as the complexities of re-training former combatants in civil conflict to be an effective military, a student asked, "How do you deal with the stress of this work?" This led us into a rich conversation about the value and importance of knowing one's own limits, honoring our preferences (don't go to a war zone if going to a war zone puts you in a constant state of anxiety), and things that one can do to make tough work sustainable.
Then we did some yoga.