Talking Stick

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 7/16/2016
  • Publisher: Bear & Co

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Practices for openhearted speaking and devout listening to restore harmony in families, relationships, schools, workplaces, and communities

• Details how to approach life with a listening heart and create a sacred space for communication

• Offers exercises for new peacemaking circles, ceremonial ways to begin each circle, and peacemaker tools to unmask the needs and feelings behind conflict

• Explains how to apply this practice in multiple ways, with groups large and small

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.

Author Biography

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.

Table of Contents


Pa r t I

The Heart of Peacemaking

1    Toward a Sacred Way of Being with Others

2    The Geography of Hierarchy

3    The Components of Council

4    The Intentions of Council

5    Ensuring Safety

6    What Is Council About?


Applied Peacemaking

7    Stories


9    Conflict

10    Dealing with Anger

11    Harms

12    Revenge

13    Apologizing

14    Forgiving

15    Healing Circles

Par t I I I

Walking t he Peace Path

16    Why Council Works

17    The Invisible Talking Stick

   Walking the Peace Path

19    Setting Out on the Peace Path

Appendix A. Council Variations

Appendix B. Warm-ups

Appendix C. “Moe Sits in Council”


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