Pantomime

After a while of pausing I would like to continue with some stories…
However, I would like to change the format a little bit and take turns between different languages. So, in addition to therapeutic stories in English there will be some in French and Spanish, as well. But, first of all, let’s continue in English . Here’s one which I have personwitnessed in our local hospital.

“Good morning. My name is … ” he began his speech. “She can’t speak,” explained the nurse. “Stroke… ” The helpless gestures of the young lady patient let him know that she did not understand his words, except for a few, for which he managed to coax from her a nod or a shake of the head. How can you still communicate with such a person? With gestures he painted in the air a steep staircase for her with high steps. But alas he sighed “Too steep!” He shook his head in disappointment. Then he drew with his hands a staircase with long low steps. With his fingers, he went along the whole staircase.
The woman looked attentively and nodded. With his hands he painted a high mountain in the air. A man of two fingers wanted to climb it. But he fell again. Then he found a path with a gradual slope, a zigzag, with many turns. He went this way. The woman’s eyes began to shine. And so the pantomime took its course. “Keep your eye on the goal” and “passion” followed as the next images. The movements of a marathon runner and an upwardly clenched fist; they inspired to perseverance and a fighting spirit.
The turning hands of a clock showed that it would take time. He continued the charade with his hands together on the side of his inclined head. “Sleep” and “wake”, “sleep” and “wake”, and many many times they would have to “sleep ” and “wake” until they would be at the peak, which he kept looking upwards at with his eyes and pointing to with his outstretched forefinger. With hands and feet, with his whole body, he portrayed the picture of how her children would hook into her left elbow, and her parents the right and how they would all go together with her, all the way.
Once again he stretched out his fist to the sky. She would have to fight for all she was worth. Three days later, he again visited the woman. “You know,” said the lady in the bed next to her, “she has been here for four weeks and nothing really happened but in the last three days she has made amazing progress”. He spoke with the patient again and this time she understood every sentence. Then he took his leave. “Goodbye” she said. It was her first recovered word.

Fred

« Ceci est une poubelle », a déclaré Louise alors qu’elle me remettait le monstre en carton-pâte avec le museau grand ouvert. À partir de ce moment-là Fred, le monstre de la poubelle, s’est trouvé assis dans la salle de délibération en attendant de la nourriture. Au début Fred se contentait des déchets du bureau. Pourtant alimenté par des déchets mentaux de beaucoup de conversations il prenait goût à toutes ces choses dont les clients n’avaient plus besoin et qu’ils voulaient laisser dans la salle de délibération. J’ai pris l’habitude de présenter Fred aux clients. Avec le temps Fred bouffait les mots maladroits du thérapeute et les pensées lourdes des clients. Il bouffait des souvenirs accablants et des habitudes mal aimées. Une cliente envoyait ses pensées dépressives même de la maison à Fred. À la fin Fred mangeait aussi ce qui me pesait lourd. Et la nuit il pouvait … consommer tous les rêves disgracieux.

Everything Else

In a land in our time there lived a man, who read a book and found lots of wonderful stories therein. There were true and invented stories, experienced and pensive, enjoyable and painful stories. There were stories which contained stories, and such which were actually not stories. For every story he read, there occurred to him nearly five which he had either experienced or thought up himself. So the thought came to him, that a lot in the world was a story which could be healing for himself and others; he only needed to absorb the healing stories well and to forget the terrible ones immediately. Then he would learn which story he had used when and for what. So he organised his own stories which he knew, and which had become a help to himself and others, or could become so. Sometimes he noted it down when a new story came to his ears and sometimes when a helpful story occurred to him, he memorised it.

Then he saw before him in a picture the storystories of this life arranged in long shelves, as in a large pharmacy. And behind the counter there sat a man who had learnt to listen to himself and others. He was a master of his subjectspecialty. His talent was that he understood how to tell the right thing at the right time to himself and to those who visited him.

Vipassana – Prisoners practising meditation in a jail in India

Lane has shown this film to me some years ago. I don’t know how old Lne is. I know that she used to drink coffee with Albert Einstein every Sunday when she was a student of law. Later, in 1948 she attended the Nürnberg processes where the surviving Nazi leaders were trialled. She worked as a Mediator in peace negotiations for the United Nations and also for some NGOs.
This remarkable film tells the story of a new jail director, a woman who is wondering what she can really do for the prisoners who spend so many years in this jail – and some of them a lifetime. One day she hears about a master of meditation who could possible contribute to this cause. She invites him to visit the prison. An incredible story of change begins. Enjoy this film!

The Stanford prison experiment

How can the world become more peaceful, more worth living, more loveable?
In the next days and weeks I would like to publish a few stories and films on how society as well as the individual can be healed from the impacts of violence. My concern is reconciliation of the inner self as well as of people who are in conflict. And I admit that the healing of the so called “perpetrator” seems as important to me as that of the so called “victim”. I am concerned about respectful communication, about mediation and therapy, but also about a wider, social dimension: How can we achieve to develop a society focused on deescalation instead of answering violence by violence?

I would like to start with a short documentation of the Stanford prisoner experiment. In this experiment of 1971 arbitrarily chosen test persons were divided into roleplay attendants and prisoners of a roleplay jail. The experiment which was scheduled for some weeks had to be ended after 6 days because the attendants were increasing in cruelty so quickly and more and more prisoners were traumatised.

This film gives a remarkable documentation of the experiment as a look back from our time.

The Ginnel

I knew a man who told me this story. Someone came to him when he, like you, no longer knew what to do. “There’s nothing more I can do”, he said. “I’m stuck in a dead end”. Then something occurred to him – he who told me this – and he explained:

“This reminds me of the small passages from one street to the next, called ‘ginnels’. You can only get through them on foot. They are not much wider than a man. In the area I live, I know a dead end like you describe. When you go in, it goes no further, as is the case with dead ends. But with this dead end it is different, and I believe there are more like it: When you go right to the end, you find the ginnel somewhere on the side, quite inconspicuous between the houses.”

The Blade of Grass in the Desert

A man travelled across a desert. All around him there was only sand, stones and rocks, the luminous blue sky, and above him the glowing hot sun. Halfway it so happened that he wanted to have a rest and he looked around for a suitable place. A little further away from the path he found an overhanging rock which could offer him shade for the duration of his rest.The man went to the spot. When he arrived, he saw something unusual. In the shade of this rock, there actually grew a blade of grass.

“Well, well, well, where do you come from?”, asked the man, and then laughed at himself: “In my loneliness, I’m already talking to the grass. It would be better if I were to investigate where the blade of grass comes from”. He pulled the little plant out of the sand and laid it carefully to the side. Then he dug deeper and deeper. Although he didn’t exactly hit a bubbling well, the earth here was truly somewhat damp. As the man continued on his way, he did not forget to place the blade of grass in the damp earth again. He built a small wall in front of it with a couple of stones to protect the plant from drying out through the hot desert wind. Then he went on his way.

On his way back he passed the spot again. Naturally he looked to see if his plant still lived. He was very happy: a proper little tuft of grass had grown out of the blade. The man dug a little deeper in the earth and pushed it in even damper earth. With a scarf, two poles and a pair of ties, which he had taken with him for the return journey, he improved the wind-protection for his plant.

Many years later, a friend of this man had to travel across the same desert. The man bade his friend: “Take a look and see what has become of my plant – whether it is still there!” The friend promised he would. When he returned from the journey he reported: “A small meadow has grown out of your blade of grass. Other travellers have discovered the spot. They have made the wall bigger and placed more poles with scarves there. Someone has dug a well there and covered it with a piece of leather. A beautiful fig tree is growing next to the well. A cricket chirps in its leaves.”