… An Interview With Cyntha Gonzalez
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Leveraging her 30-years of dexterity in Transpersonal Psychology to help individuals, and increasingly, groups, flex the attitudinal ‘muscle’ of compassion and understanding, Cyntha Gonzalez seems to emblemise this ethos with a reassuring clarity of tone. It’s as if her gentle, yet steady and spiritual voice of reason breezes in like cool air to refresh a world suffocating in the torrid heat of conflict.
Love, Truth, Forgiveness…and Justice
These are the words she accentuates repeatedly throughout our chat. The social reformists that have moved her to action are Gandhi, Mandela, and Martin Luther King Jr. The causes she is pouring their peaceful yet powerful methods of revolution into are focussed on alleviating the Israel-Palestine conflict.
There are no coincidences in the universe, only convergences of will, intent and experiences. Cyntha believes that “Life led me to meet certain key individuals.”
In July 2015 Cyntha Had Her First Key Encounter
Yael Admi, who was her point of access to the conflict. Admi is one of the co-creators of the inspiring movement, Women Wage Peace (WWP). This 20,000-members non-profit organisation is led by Israeli and Palestinian mothers who decided to take peaceful, but meaningful action against the terror of this long-standing conflict.
These mothers were “Deeply dismayed at yet another war”, Cyntha poignantly expressed in relation to the Gaza conflict of 2014 – a confrontation that saw at least 1,500 (UN estimates) deaths of innocent civilians in just a few weeks.
As many of these mothers have their sons in the military and the spectre of terror of loss became unbearable; this desire for peace, no matter what, is what united women from different cultural and political backgrounds under WWP. Cyntha met them in Israel at the anniversary of the war and joined approximately 300 men and women for a 50-day hunger fast while marching at the doorsteps of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The protest lasted 50 days, from the 8th of July to the 26th of August.
Hesitating to act because the whole vision may not be achieved, or because others do not yet share it, is an attitude that only hinders progress.
– Mahatma Gandhi
The other key individual to lead her to this regional conflict was Sami Awad, the director of the Holy Land Trust (HLT), whom Cyntha met in 2017 through her connections with WWP. HLT is also a highly innovative movement that seeks a spiritual approach to the resolution of this conflict that has conflagrated the warped justification for fundamentalist violence throughout the Middle East. Without focusing on one tradition, the movement draws inspiration from all religions. Cyntha clarifies that this universality is the focal point of her spiritual approach to healing too. Sami was pivotal in jumpstarting her personal contribution to the conflict, and through him she introduced healing techniques like Constellation work and Radical Forgiveness acquired during her years as a Transpersonal Psychotherapist.
Having practiced couples counselling for 31 years, she is now adopting some of the techniques used in her private practice to address a wider sphere. Terms like ‘Power of Reconciliation’, ‘Radical Listening’ and ‘Deep Communication’, is the lexicon of psychic healing unknown to mainstream global conflict resolution. Cyntha explained that whether with an individual, couple, or with collective groups, the obstacle for dialogue and peace is unhealed trauma. Her expertise in counselling is what inspired her to use these healing tools to delve into collective reconciliation.
This dual approach via Constellation and Radical Forgiveness seminars took place recently when Cyntha, along with five other women, editor Lisa Durante, filmmaker Farah Nabulsi (Oceans of Injustice), Yoga teacher Nancy Zabaneh, lawyer Sheryl Nahhas and Reem Rayan went to Palestine. There, she conducted two workshops: one focussing on the alternative healing therapy, Constellation work and the other on Radical Forgiveness.
Constellation work or Family constellations, is a therapeutic method inspired from Zulu tradition and popularised by renowned psychotherapist Bert Hellinger. It is practiced in a single session to reveal harmful patterns carried from generation to generation in specific groups. The purpose is to break these patterns to heal atavistic wounds. During the sessions, there are representatives who enact different parts of a given conflict. For example, ‘Zionist’, ‘Suicide bomber’, ‘Israeli soldier’, ‘Palestinian refugee’… How much more significant and revolutionary could this methodology be if used to tackle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more holistically?
Cyntha recounts how she invited Palestinians and sympathisers of the cause to the session to “create a safe setting for people to play and understand the other side”. This was a significant manoeuver that stimulated the participants into poignant dialogue, forgiveness and self-reflection.
The second workshop focussed on Radical Forgiveness. Cyntha differentiated what she calls traditional forgiveness from radical forgiveness. The first is the basic forgiving of the opposite side for a wrongdoing committed. The latter, as the name suggests, is a more extreme form of forgiveness that involves apologising for the wounds contained in one’s own heart for having provoked violent reaction in the opposing side. We can only imagine how hard it would be for a Palestinian to pronounce such an apology, it sounds impossible to a cynical ear, but fortunately what has changed the world many times has been the unpredictable and the unexpected…
Cyntha reiterates another aspect of this Radical Forgiveness approach: “If I am to forgive you, I actually have to forgive myself”. The wisdom contained in such words is hard to grasp and when I suggested it to a Palestinian friend, fervent about the conflict, he found it an arduous practice to uphold.
Practice Makes Perfect
Cyntha is currently back in Israel to attend a six-day seminar organised by the Pocket Project founded by Thomas Hubl in 2016. This organisation is not local like WWP or HLT, but is based in Germany and Israel with the objective of planting “pockets of consciousness” in locations wrecked by conflict, and whose populations suffer collective trauma. Jaded as many of us are by perennial disharmony, could this initiative strike like a Utopian dream movement tussling non-violently for planetary harmony? “Healing collective trauma” is the aim of the project, and while Cyntha portrayed the essence of the Pocket Project group, my heart silently rejoiced at the idea that out there, people are believing and transforming this ideal into reality. How? The movement promotes spiritual practices to foster collective healing in the afflicted locations, calling to volunteers to contribute with their own talents. In Cyntha’s case this involves constellation work, art therapy, group facilitation, and many more techniques she is waiting to share. “There is so much more to learn,” are the humble words Cyntha pronounces, contemplating her future with group healing.
Yet, how can a Muslim or a Jew in traditional settings attempt these fresh modes of spiritual healing? She explained that in her type of spirituality “Inter-spirituality” is a general practice, which believes in common universal themes found across religions. The healer therefore, is well versed in these themes, to relate and empathise with different human beings. For example, Cyntha tells me how in the last 25 years, during Ramadan she has been fasting, without being a Muslim.
The interview melted like icicles in the burning rays of hope. “Transpersonal Psychology which recognises that individuals and collectives, have both an ego personality, along with a deeper spiritual nature” is her orientation to reiterate the importance of spiritual foundations in her method of healing trauma.
After my time with Cyntha, I cannot deny that my heart was pounding faster than before, beating with hope for a world where progress can and is being achieved. This optimism is what Cyntha has gifted me, hope for a new world, and harmonious resolution to conflict.