AFJ Garner wrote:
reprogram our brains, so that we replace dysfunctional patterns from the past with more resourceful patterns
Nurture versus nature is an endless debate with no clear conclusion in sight.
Some things can change; others cannot. Some people (mostly academics in the social sciences and some feminists) claim to believe that the human brain is almost completely plastic. This they call the SSSM (standard social sciences model). The best overall summary I have seen of the state of play is Steven Pinker's "The Blank Slate". Much is ideologically at stake here.
IMHO not much can be done about IQ and such; you can make the most of your abilities but there is a limit I think. Similarly for the 5 personality dimensions Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, Openness. I think it is mostly a matter of playing the hand you are dealt.
Still, hard work can get you a long way (assuming you are conscientious!).
The tribe process then becomes a process of "becoming who you truly are". We are not trying to turn an introvert into an extrovert, for example.
Often people think they should be something other than what they are, or that they should not feel something they are feeling. Let's say someone is introverted but thinks he should be an extravert. This is the sort of thing we can fix. In addition to making someone comfortable with who they are, we can implant strategies to help people to be successful.
Often what people believe is their problem is the opposite of the actual problem. The introvert above may have spent a fortune on sales courses, overcoming shyness courses etc etc. I would suggest his real problem may be to make a good life given that he is an introvert.
As another example, I know someone (not on blox) who is constantly going on courses and retreats aimed at overcoming the tyranny of the ego, dissolving into the universe, exposing the fallacious of the concept of personal identity, and so on. It is blindingly obvious to everyone around him that his problems are more related to his weak 'ego', his unwillingness to assert himself, to take responsibility for his actions and his life, and so on.
Ed describes the tribe process very well in his book, which I believe you can still buy from his site. In essence it amounts to encouraging the person to feel the feeling that is bothering them, and to follow it where ever it leads. This is achieved by manifesting the feeling physically - as a 'form' - and having the tribe members encourage the person to grow the feeling. At the point of maximum intensity, the person will often experience an 'aha' moment, which provides clarity about the underlying issue. There are various rituals and exercises aimed at getting people into a state that makes this easy. This is not an intellectual process, it is a feeling process. Usually the insights are quite simple, but they are useful because they are what the person has been unable to see for themselves. For example the introvert above may realize that it is OK to be introvert and that he should stop trying to be someone he isn't. (His presenting feeling to the hot seat may have been something like "I am ashamed to be so shy and socially inept").
The rocks process is on the site in bits and pieces. It is used when the basic hot seat fails or the person regresses repeatedly from apparently successful hot seats, or when people think it would be useful.
Once you achieve a peak of feeling, you freeze the feeling and try to find an archetypical instance of the feeling occurring early in life. It doesn't much matter if the incident actually happened as described. The key thing is that it feels as though it did. This situation may involve various people. You then re-enact the situation using the tribe members. Generally the person arrived at some bogus strategy for dealing with situations like this. Often this was with the help of a 'donor' of the bogus strategy such as Mum or Dad or a school friend. An example suboptimal strategy could be "When dealing with conflict, pretend to cave in to the other person, but seethe with anger under the surface, and get your revenge later on".
We re-enact the situation complete with the donation of the bogus strategy. Then we brainstorm alternate strategies that the person can use. We then re-enact the situation, with the person using some of the new strategies for a more effective solution. Often the original strategy is kept as a backup or 10% solution in case the other ones are not relevant.
We then go through similar situations in the person's life where they employed the bogus strategy and the person considers how the new strategies could be employed.
This process powerfully reprograms even deeply ingrained and habitual patterns of thought and behavior, in a matter of 30-60 minutes. It is a wonder to behold or to experience.
This was a rather condensed and simplified version of the technique. More on Ed's site. As previously discussed, there are many opportunities to do it wrong.
Some common misconceptions:
It is not a way to get rid of bad feelings, because there is no such thing as a bad feeling.
It is not a way to avoid feelings. On the contrary it is a way to fully experience them and make them allies.
It is not a way to escape from the pain of life, but rather a way to be fully alive to what life brings.
It seems to be very different from Buddhist ideas. Buddhists would say they are not escaping, but whatever they are doing it is not the tribe process.