Fostering Lesson 9. Empowerment
Summary of skill
- Empowerment is being in a stance of “having power with” others rather than power over others or power under others.
- It’s easier to be empowering when we are in touch with our own authentic selves and want to support others in being in touch with their own authentic selves. Another way of saying this is that we accept our own and others’ divinity and humanity.
- It’s easier to be empowering when we have a practice of withdrawing our projections.
- Practicing and supporting empowerment is tending to power dynamics instead of just assuming it will all work out, or going unconscious about it.
- Pay attention to role power, personal/individual power, and cultural power of all the players—Judy Ryde, CSTD, Working with Difference course, www.cstd.co.uk
- Role power: the power (or lack thereof) a person holds by virtue of their title or position or role, for example, the boss, the secretary, the bishop, the janitor
- Personal/individual power: the power (or lack thereof) a person holds by virtue of their individual gifts, for example, beauty, intelligence, drive, determination, illness, etc.
- Cultural power: the power (or lack thereof) a person holds by virtue of their cultural group and how it fits in with the “dominant” culture of their location, for example, a black person in the Jim Crow south, a white male clerking at the Supreme Court, a Hispanic female in Texas, a transgendered man in Wyoming, a gay woman in San Francisco, etc.
- Reflection: as a spiritual leader, in your community, how do you practice and support empowerment?
- Where in your life do you feel you powerless? (Note: Judy Ryde says that studies show that people almost always notice the power they do not have rather than the power they have.)
- What relationship do you have with your own powerlessness? For example: “I never allow myself to feel it, it frightens me.”
- Self-led or guided meditation: Empowerment as a psychic, subtle, causal, and nondual energy practice
- Group discussion
Resources for reflection & discussion
- Starhawk, The Empowerment Manual: A Guide for Collaborative Groups, pp. 44-45, power with
- Margaret Truxaw Hopkins, “The Healing Power of Being Deeply Heard,” in Mark Brady, ed., The Wisdom of Listening, pp. 56 – 57
- Stephen Mitchell, trans., Tao Te Ching, Poem #17
- Steve Wineman, Power-Under: Trauma and Nonviolent Social Change