8OS Body/Mind Operating System: Learning to Modulate Conflict Dynamics

In this course you will learn how to modulate conflict dynamics using the concepts and tools derived from nonlinear systems theory, organizational studies, psychology as well as Systema martial art (which is important for experiential understanding and habitual learning of the ideas that we propose) . It will not only help you resolve difficult situations, dangerous encounters, and stalled negotiations, but also offer several strategies and techniques that you can use to cope with...

Course Dates: Open-ended
Enrollment Dates: Enroll Anytime
Who can Enroll: Anyone
Course Language: English

Course Structure

Most of the studies on the dynamics of interaction focus on mutual understanding and agreement, proposing the strategies that help avoid conflict and help reach the outcome that would be acceptable to all the parties involved even if it is a compromise.

In this course we propose not to shun away from the notion of conflict, but to instead study its dynamics and learn how to navigate it and steer it towards a desired outcome. Drawing on research in prey-predator dynamics, anthropology, psychology and metastable dynamics we present several principles that describe the structure of conflict as competition between several possible outcomes (networked singularities) within a complex system (polysingularity). If there's no resistance in one singularity towards the others, eventually it is taken over and a part of the system may collapse. If the resistance is too direct and strong, it leads to further escalation of tension and eventual disintegration of the system as well.

Therefore, conflict demands certain ethics, which embraces the necessity to "fight" but does so in a way that is directed towards reaching a "peaceful" state as soon and as efficiently as it is possible.

The second Session of our course proposes specific techniques, which can be used in the practice of "peaceful combat". We combine several tactics proposed by Gregory Bateson in his study of schizophrenia as well as the strategies derived from various martial arts (mainly Systema) and body practices (mainly Noguchi Taiso).

The use of body practices is important as it allows to have a direct, experiential understanding of the concepts that we propose and help learn them on a habitual level, making them an integral part of everyday behavior.

Both Systema and Noguchi Taiso have been formalized only recently and work with the natural flows of the body, focusing on the principles of continuity, non-resistance, relaxation and rhythmicality to modulate movement in extreme conditions. Systema, in particular, has a close relation to Jiu-Jitsu, Aikido and Kundalini Yoga, however, it has a more pragmatic approach as it had to be applied in combat situations by the Russian secret services only recently, so it had been tested in real life-or-death situations. We use different features of those body practices as a metaphor for building a set of instruments, which has a wider range of application: not only hand-to-hand combat and war, but also negotiations, intersubjective relations, as well as for getting in touch with oneself.

We apply the principles laid out in previous sections to concrete real-life based case studies to show how those principles can be reenacted in action (both literally and in a metaphorical sense). Those principles are:
– holistic approach (not distinct bodies, but a dynamic system)
– continuity (uninterrupted motion)
– assimilation (adaptation to the environment)
– redirection (transforming the intention, de-escalation)
– dissipative release (ending the conflict)
– contextual reconfiguration (shifting the situation, meta-advance) 

Both Systema and Noguchi have similar holistic perspective on movement: body-mind-environment is viewed as a network that dynamically reconfigures itself. We take this embodied perspective and use it to produce metaphors, which can then be applied in real-life situations beyond the physical realm.