IAHV’s unique bio-psycho-social approach
There is a physiology that promotes peace, and one that thwarts it. IAHV’s peacebuilding approach is unique since it combines emotion regulation and cognitive peacebuilding strategies, with physiological techniques (regulated breathing techniques) that prime the physiology for peace:
- The higher brain centers (i.e. prefrontal cortex) create peaceful solutions using executive function, problem solving and peacebuilding strategies, and emotion regulation. These centers dominate when there is homeostatic balance in the autonomic nervous system (ANS) between the peaceful, parasympathetic and the stressful, fight or flight sympathetic nervous system. In conflict situations there is stress and emotional intensity. The sympathetic nervous system automatically dominates, reverting brain function to more reactive, primitive brain centers (limbic system), and peacebuilding capabilities deteriorate. This effect is more pronounced in adolescents, making solutions a high priority.
- ANS function is automatic, and out of our control, with one exception: respiration. Thus ANS homeostasis can be restored via breath based techniques. SKY regulated breathing technology is validated to improve ANS homeostasis and stabilize higher brain function, even when under duress.
- Providing tools to strengthen ANS homeostasis creates the most complete peacebuilding, violence reducing paradigm. It fortifies individuals to utilize all other peacebuilding skills, and to persist in challenging times.
IAHV interventions relieve trauma and acute emotional symptoms with special breathing techniques that differ from and complement traditional psychotherapy. Provided worldwide, Sudarshan Kriya® and accompanying Practices (SK&P) are time-honored stress management/health promotion techniques whose health benefits are being validated by modern medical science. Independent research has shown that SK&P significantly: reduces levels of stress (reduce cortisol – the “stress” hormone); supports the immune system; increases optimism; relieves anxiety and depression (mild, moderate and severe); Increases anti-oxidant protection; enhances brain function (increased mental focus, calmness and recovery from stressful stimuli); and enhances well-being and peace of mind. In conflict and war zones, SK&P are particularly helpful in relieving trauma and helping individuals overcome painful experiences and emotions.
These simple, yet powerful breathing practices have a unique advantage: they are free from unwanted side-effects, can cut health care costs, and are easy to learn and practice in daily life. In addition to advanced and research-tested breathing techniques, other processes and tools are incorporated (depending on the program and target audience) including:
These results support individuals to develop interpersonally and inside communities, creating more inclusive relationships and greater community resilience to conflict. These psychosocial tools integrate with and complement the efforts of other strategic peacebuilding initiatives. The programmes are generally offered over several consecutive days, with sessions lasting 1 to 6 hours per day. Programmes take place indoors and require very little office equipment.
The psychosocial dimension of peacebuilding has traditionally been on the margins of mainstream peacebuilding practice, reduced to an addendum to peacebuilding operations and overshadowed by economic, political, security or justice components. Current peacebuilding efforts focus extensively on external conditions and systems, while often failing to address a crucial dimension of peacebuilding. Namely: creating peace in the minds, hearts and attitudes of people. Anger, frustration, hate, depression, pain, and intolerance are key dimensions in many conflicts. Failure to comprehend or effectively address these powerful driving forces erodes the effectiveness of many efforts of mainstream peacebuilding.
The international peacebuilding community is increasingly recognising the necessity to work holistically and address the cognitive and emotional levels of people in conflict – including such issues as trauma, healing and reconciliation – in order to create a sustainable peace. At the moment, however, very few organisations actually implement effective psycho-social interventions on a scale significant enough to have an impact on conflict and peace dynamics.
Only when psycho-social aspects that work effectively with the inner lives of individuals, as the crucial locus of decision-making and behaviour, are integrated into peacebuilding thinking and practice, will these programmes be able to better contribute to sustainable and real impact and change. Working proficiently with psycho-social aspects of peacebuilding entails the promise of a strong psycho-social foundation for peace and increased impact of peacebuilding efforts on the ground.
From Personal Transformation to Peacebuilding Impact
IAHV uses a holistic approach to personal transformation that addresses the physical up to deeply existential layers, transcending the strictly cognitive. Restoring peace at every level, our programs are deeply human, life affirming and empowering.
Healed and empowered, these individuals can play a positive peace enhancing role in their communities, institutions and all sectors of society.
Underpinning this work, we promote universal human values such as non-violence, dignity, equity, justice and well-being, which produce a positive impact on the way individuals, relationships and communities interact at every level of society.
IAHV enacts individual transformation and structural change at every level of society, from grassroots to global leadership.
Focusing on the individual as the basis for social and political transformation is how we turn personal transformation into peacebuilding impact.
Strengths & Values
Systemic Thinking, whereby our approach complements the efforts of other peacebuilding organisations, including institutional, civil society, and grassroots initiatives and across sectors, creating a comprehensive strategy.
Cultural Sensitivity, rooted in universal experiences and integrative responses to trauma in the conflict and post-war context, allowing IAHV to operate in nearly every political, ethnic, cultural or religious context.
Scalable, Efficient, and Inclusive Outcomes, reaching large groups across divided societies, including survivors and perpetrators, low income to elite leadership, bridging ethnic, cultural, religious or social backgrounds. While traditional therapeutic work is practiced on a one-to-one basis or in small groups, IAHV’s programs allow for working with large groups while still effectuating deeply personal change at the individual level.
Sustainable, Local Ownership of Peace Work, as individuals and communities empower themselves to overcome trauma and build local resilience, creating self-sustaining change and reducing dependency on external support.
Rooted in ancient knowledge: IAHV’s programs are rooted in ancient universal knowledge of the human mind, emotions and behavior, which has remained of utmost relevance and is practically applied to our modern realities.
Fundamental change: IAHV’s programs focus on changing the inner lives of human beings as a core locus of conflict, violence and peace dynamics. We believe personal transformation is fundamental for the manifestation of social peace and long-lasting change.
Inclusive of all: We believe global peace is not attained as long as one individual on the planet remains deprived of knowledge and skills to deal with negative emotions and violent tendencies. From this global vision, IAHV works with all people, both victims and perpetrators of violence, from the slums to the hubs of world power, regardless of ethnic, cultural, religious or social background.
Human approach: IAHV’s programs focus on the human dimension of peacebuilding and are rooted in universal human values, care for humanity and the human dignity of every person.
Globally active: In cooperation with the Art of Living Foundation, IAHV is active in 150 countries and works with a worldwide pool of trainers.