Riding the bus through the mountainous region of Northern Spain set the stage for the breath-taking views that we were surrounded with during our stay at La Solana. Before arriving, we were looking forward as to what the Ulex training was going to bring us. We wanted to go on this training, because it promised to make us closer to ourselves, as well as getting a deeper understanding of how to effectively work as a group. The training promised to be designed to develop capacity, empowerment and collaboration, while also exploring skills for embodying our values in the ways we can effectively work together.
The mindfulness course has been helpful in learning how to work well with others. Instead of feeling frustrated, drained and unproductive when collaborating, we now have developed empowering skills of mindfulness in service of values and action for social and ecological justice. Working together makes us stronger if we can see the actual value of it. Going for a purpose bigger than the group itself and going for the good of the whole while also honouring each other’s developmental potential are key factors when collaborating. It is also important to keep in mind which role or hat you take within a group. To investigate this, we used the ‘’six hats model’’ of Edwin De Bono, which is a simple, effective parallel thinking process that helps people be more productive, focused, and mindfully involved in groups or meetings.
Furthermore, we were taught what happens to your body when facing stress and which signals your body sends to you whenever it is trying to tell you something. For example, when you are overloaded with stress or anxiety, there are certain signals, like headaches or stomach pain, that tells you something is wrong. This awareness can help you to reduce the stress in your body and mind during work or study. The body does not lie. Stress can be an uncomfortable feeling and you should recognize when it is too much unless it is a challenge by choice. Monitor your maladaptive behaviour, meaning the actions you undertake while being stressed that do not serve you, make you feel better or that you enjoy. By doing so, your mental state stays positive and your work/study remains enjoyable.
Another field that was taught at the training was the Conflict Transformation strand. During these classes, we were presented with cases between people within a group that have some sort of conflict. What is important is that both parties are able to state their feelings and desired outcomes. From there, it is the mediator’s task to regulate the conversation in a way that does not escalate too much. De-escalation and guaranteeing that everyone is being heard by the other is imperative to make a conflict go towards a new path. Finding a solution is not the ultimate goal, but opening the path towards understanding is.
To conclude, the Ulex training was absolutely broadening and gave us many new insights. Thank you so much for having us!
Written by Suzi Westen and Max Tilly