Even if you don't use these techniques in your next mediation, reading this short but idea-filled article in which they are described may give you a fresh perspective to bring to conflict. Although there were several reasons I found these four approaches refreshing, I particularly liked that one or more were aligned with processes I know can facilitate resolution of conflict: the pictographic path (using images to communicate) and mental contrasting (comparing where you are with where you want to be).
In this article, anthropologist Undine Kayser describes four tools:
- Story as worldmaking: The patchwork gown
- Enlarging frameworks
- Utopia: Transformative powers and change
- Distancing-metaphor-projection-outside gaze
She also gives examples of each.
Why use stories? Kayser writes:
Narrative is generally employed in conflict resolution processes in a factual mode: stories are told to 'filter' so-called 'facts'. This narrative mode does not allow much room for the play of imagination, displacement, identity and extension of boundaries. It does not make full use of fiction and fable as age-old cultural resources for conflict resolution.
Stories are one of the most revealing tools for exploring the question of how people define their identities, how they see and wish to place themselves in the world. Stories are a reservoir of collective memory, individual experience and action and can complement the more 'rational' approaches to conflict resolution.
And she closes with a quote that is a good summation:
In the words of psychologist Ira Progoff, "[Storytelling is about] switching the frame of reference from the small world of self-righteous egos to the large universe of sacred time."
I don't know what Progoff meant by sacred, but I do know moving from a small perspective to a larger one can work wonders in mediation.