A group of very diverse individuals met for three Saturdays to explore how to apply the Culture Bump protocol to healing circles.  They included people with diverse spiritual paths – Christian, Muslim, Buddhist as well as those with no formal religious belief.  Furthermore, they came from diverse backgrounds – the USA, Pakistan, Palestine, Vietnam, and Russia – and they held both conservative and liberal political beliefs.  In short, a microcosm of the USA.

What they did share was a desire to move beyond differences and find a way to connect.  

And, like most Americans, they weren’t sure it was possible. 

And they were willing to try.

They formed the third cohort of individuals who have been trained in the Culture Bump Approach to dealing with differences. Like the two previous groups, this cohort is certified by Auburn University’s Center for Educational Outreach and Engagement as Culture Bump Facilitators.   While including the seven modules in the Culture Bump Approach, this training focused more on integrating a group approach based on healing circles.  The approach is centered on the self-reflective steps in response to encountering a difference or “culture bump”.  These are: (1) Pinpointing the culture bump (2 & 3) Listing one’s own and the Other’s behavior (4) Identifying one’s emotions regarding the incident (5) Extrapolating the universal situation implicit in the incident (6) Describing in behavioral terms one’s expectations for that situation (7) Reflecting upon and extrapolating the meaning of having one’s expectations met and (8) having a conversation with the Other about how he/she/they experiences that meaning in their life.  For almost 40 years, this approach has helped people deal with and move beyond differences – cultural, social, gender, etc.   However, with the advent of the Culture Bump App and the research regarding its efficacy, the idea of applying the Culture Bump Approach in groups and with societal divisions has developed.  This training was the logical outgrowth.


In order to integrate healing circles, the steps were applied differently – For example, in dealing with political differences, steps 1, 2, 3 and 5 were done in a group setting with both conservatives and liberals.  Steps 4, 6 and 7 were done in separate conservative and liberal groups and step 8 then brought the two groups together again.  This process facilitated (1) everyone agreeing on the point of contention (2) people acknowledging and dealing with their emotional investment with like-minded folks (3) and clarifying their expectations and solutions in a safe environment.  Therefore, all participants came back together in step 8 having dealt with these fundamental issues and BEGAN their conversation at the level of meaning which led to creative solutions to the original point of contention or “culture bump”.  It is important to note that all participants had repeatedly practiced this format in healing circles on their individual cultural bumps before applying the process to political or spiritual bumps.  And how did it work?

In their own words:

I really enjoyed the workshop. I learned many things: how we all came with different backgrounds , different colors and different educational background; yet we were all in common. I noticed that we shared same values with different expectations or different explanations.

The language used was unique, we talked from the heart, our words did  not come from our tongues, they came from the bottom of our hearts. Really, I started understanding others more now than before. I always wonder why did people do that action or other action or say that…

Now, I can see differently.   I am able to know that they are the same as me but different when they talk or explain or expect things. 

The training made a great impact on my way of looking at perspectives, analyzing scenarios, and finding a common ground in situations. It was not an easy process; however, it was very interesting to analyze a bump by narrowing it down and finding a universal.   It greatly broadened my frame of the reference. This tremendously helped me in dealing with my own bumps and others around me. 

Finally, here is a video overview of the workshop.

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