it's been a while, i'm too old, poor and crippled to involve myself in rainbow gatherings nowadays, so this qualifies as something like armchair quarterbacking...
but i was once all gung ho, a regular local folkielizer and all about dealing with the some major instances of weirded out shit that sometimes came up at the getherings i was part of...especially around kid village... so here's some shanti sena lessons i learned in the trenches
first of all, it means, translated literally, something like peaceful scene. at a gathering, if everything's mellow, if everyone is feeling alright and nothing much is going on, that is shanti sena. there is a marked absence of drama. no one has to do anything in particular about anyone except mingle and enjoy.
shanti sena also became a term for a clique of people who, at gatherings, styled themselves a kind of affiliated crew of plain-clothes, radio toting, duct tape weiding rainbow hippie police force. some of these guys and gals do a great job, others, well.... these people may have sincerely thought of themselves as peacekeepers, but some of their attitudes, imho were pretty obnoxious, kind of a weird mix of biker/hobo/ dope dealer/ ex marine/cop-brotherhood and some of em drank heavily and lived in hotels off campus somewhere... whatevah...they had dramas of their own, but at times they did deal with flarings of violence inside or dangerous situations with the LEO at the gates effectively enough...
then there's the people at gatherings who put their energy into constantly teaching & lovingly demonstrating basic rainbow, at councils, at dinner circles, in workshops and ongoing conversations with the newbies. if no one around seems to know what shanti sena is, or how to shit in the woods, or build a proper campfire, or help in a kitchen or where to put the "garbage".. to paraphrase mother jones, who said, "don't mourn, organize!"...don't bitch; teach teach teach
teach teach! *that* is true shanti sena, in my book, or what i like to call pre-traumatic stress prevention. the more you get these teaching memes out and get conversations going among gatherers about how to deal with a crisis if it arises, the more peaceful and calm the response will be whenever somebody yells shanti sena!
shanti sena is like that kipling poem, "if" If you can keep your head while all around you others are losing theirs... *that* is shanti sena. it involves remembering to breathe, and slow your heart rate down. it involves knowing how to get, and stay, clear headed in a crisis. and knowing how not to do *anything* until and unless you have effectively calmed and centered your own damn self, until you know as much about the situation you're addressing as it is possible to quickly assess,& until you're sure that you're coming from a place of alert, calm strength and compassion, and a fair degree of certainty that you can handle whatever's happening when something out of hand and really threatening is potentially unfolding. if you can't calm down, if you feel at all overwhelmed by the swiftness with which a violent situation is escalating... then it is quintessential shanti sena to get your overwhelmed ass out of the way... but if you're cool, and you decide to stay.... it helps if there's more than one of you, best if there are enough strong people to contain a really violent individual without hurting him (or her). once contained, you need enough gentle people to keep the vibe around such an action as calm as possible. not too many people, at that point!
people who can stay cool and focused are key.
then you have some decisions to make. is this someone who can be reasoned with, talked down, who may, once their grievance is understood and addressed, be willing to calm down and stay peaceful of his own volition? if that's the case, peer counseling can do wonders to diffuse a tense, angry, but essentially rational human being who actually *wants* to find a solution to whatever set him off. or are you dealing with a crazy? i'm sorry to be so blunt, but often shanti sena situations arise when someone at the gathering is, for one reason or another, experiencing a psychotic break, is operating on aggravated sleep dep, rampant ptsd and/or spasms of pure inexplicable violent impulse...& i've seen sad, bad things happen under these conditions... people trying to trail a raging psychotic & discretely babysit him without impinging on that person's freedoms get to watch a terrified, often violent and frighteningly delusional poor soul battle his demons for days on end, becoming weirder and more at risk as the days tick by of hurting himself or others... i know this seems like a cop out, but in my experience, i feel to this day we might have spared many a poor psycho and all those who got caught up in the babysitting movies a lot of anguish if we had just quickly secured & duct taped em, got to phone quick and got a parent or sibling or someone to come get their sick puppy & take him home or some other
mellower place than a gathering for a real crack up...
that said i know a few gifted healers who really do know how to help a body navigate the terrifying inner landscape of psychosis. there are shanti sena shamans, soul retrievers, spirit world energy workers, who understand intuitively what it's going to take to get a freaked out
freak through the worst of it, how to help him break down the old disfunctional precepts of his consciousness, how tto guide lost souls til they break on through to the healing side of their nervous breakdowns. if you can do that, boy... that's great... more power to you. you know who you are, and you are a boon and a blessing to any gathering. then again..
if you're one of those sorts who merely wishes you were an aikido master or a cop or a magical healer, please take your woo woo bullshit as far from the crisis as possible and go chant and shake your fake honky indian yaya sticks over there... please! shanti sena! keep the scene peaceful! over that-a-way!