Capacitar: A Pathway towards Healing and Transformation
My Background: At the start of the New Millennium, I was privileged to have some sabbatical time in Berkeley, U.S.A. This was a refreshing time and quite a change from my ministry of teaching at second level in Ireland. During my course, I found that I had leisure to explore other interests, and one of these was the area of complementary health.
My first massage training in San Francisco was with Mary Ann Finch and is called Care Through Touch - Massage as the Art of Anointing. I was glad to follow this up with training in Swedish massage. This opened a whole new area to me and meant that I was very receptive to encountering a different form of body work called Capacitar.
Over the last Nine years, I have been honoured to do further body work through Capacitar, a word which means 'to empower, encourage or bring forth'.This is an approach developed by Doctor Patricia Cane (USA) and involves Awakening a New Heart with Body, Mind, Spirit Practices. Practices within it include Tai Chi, body movement, acupressure, massage, polarity, visualisation, ritual and breathing meditation. It has become part of my own way of life and I use it with different groups. My hope is that it can nourish participants in their daily lives. I feel grateful to be part of this sacred way of being, as it reaches out to those most in need.
In 1988 Pat Cane was invited to Nicaragua during the time the Contra war raged there and people suffered much trauma. For two weeks Pat painted large banners with grassroots leaders intent on celebrating their culture and history. for the first time To survive personally Pat practised Tai Chi and acupressure on herself. Her Nicaraguan friends became interested in her activities because they wanted more than art work; they wanted to learn ways to care for themselves in the midst of violence in their lives. They expressed their desire to learn more of the means that other cultures had used for themselves in order to heal and transform their lives. In the midst of this, Pat learned the meaning and the spirit of the Spanish verb Capacitar: to empower, to encourage, to bring forth. This was to become the title of the organization, which she founded and continues to direct. Since its inception, Capacitar has spread all over the world and its trainers are working in over 40 countries, including Ireland
Two Mercy sisters from the Northern Province, Ann Brady and Paula Carron, met with Pat, during some sabbatical time they had in the USA. They saw its worth and began to explore how it might be applied to the Irish situation. They were particularly aware of the trauma suffered by many during the political violence experienced in the North of Ireland. It was they who invited me to get involved in training. In time, they also invited me to work with them, with a group they had formed in Drogheda. I have been going to their weekly meetings for a number of years.
As the Capacitar Ireland Website states: “The first Capacitar workshops were given in Dublin in 2003, when Toni Ryan invited Pat Cane to facilitate a workshop in the Shanty Educational Project. The first Multicultural Wellness Education Training programme began the following year in Dublin. Since then there have been 14 trainings throughout the island of Ireland with Pat Cane. Participants in the training have been drawn from all professions and have included teachers, nurses, doctors, childcare workers, therapists, community and development workers, carers and trauma workers, all of whom have integrated Capacitar practices into their work. Part of the mission of Capacitar Ireland is to support Capacitar International. Links with TRÓCAIRE helped in securing funding for Capacitar development in Rwanda, Burundi, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Uganda, East Timor and Brazil. Some of our tutors have also been involved in Capacitar outreach in Sri Lanka after the tsunami, in Perú after the earthquake and in Zambia, Nigeria, Kenya, Colombia and Brazil.”
Those who attend workshops are from every walk of life. It is also appealing to every age group: we have done workshops in schools, groups meet in various locations on a regular basis and I go to a Nursing Home frequently, where I share some of the practices. Naturally, these are adapted for participants, who are encouraged to get involved at their own comfort levels.
Capacitar has greatly enhanced my life. I now see it as a valuable ministry and a means for many people to appreciate their lives in new ways. It is a joy to be involved with others, where we work together in a sacred encounter. May Capacitar continue to grow from strength to strength, as its ideals of healing and transformation take effect more and more. As Pat Cane says, of the vision of Capacitar: “individually and collectively we need to learn how to heal the traumas of the past, to live with the wisdom and heart in the midst of struggle. We need to commit ourselves to change and transform unjust and violent systems that no longer serve the human family… We commit ourselves to this process of healing and transformation.”
Patricia Mathes Cane,Trauma Healing and Transformation: Awakening a New Heart with Body-Mind-Spirit Practices, Capacitar Inc; 3rd Edition 2004 edition (2000)
Messages to: Anna Haughian rsm