Conflict, for today, I will identify as differences experienced and/or embodied that lead to reactionary expressions that can be harmful to self as well as others. Once a conflict has arisen between two or more people in a community it is good to encourage a practice of taking it to the mountain …i.e., each individual taking the time out or in ….to work in their own ways to transform feelings of alienation, anger, fear, into ones of willingness to clarify their truth that can be shared with heart and to show up to hear that of another.
In community, it is often the case that people do not share similar skills or language to be with each other under stress such as NVC, therefore further talk can often exacerbate or intensify the differences being experienced. It is important to know, identify and confirm the agreement fields within the community on how to be with conflict when such arises.
As and with a willingness to move further into relationship, i.e., stay in the circle if the conflict persists – we often call for a council…most often after people have taken some time on their own. With recognition that a conflict between two may be the focus, while it is a whole family or system that is involved, we create seats for witnesses. Those in a witness seat are called at the end to offer comments from their hearts, a mirror, a field observation, which they feel may serve. Something they saw or felt. There is not a taking of sides, or opinions or content to be shared. It is a practice to learn this witness seat in and of itself.
To create a dyadic conflict council the following is essential …
A guide and ideally at least one witness
(The two might choose one or two witnesses to sit close in with them and work in this way while a larger group if present holds silence until the end.)
*The individuals need to express their intention to be in a relationship of truth with heart, despite dissonance or upset, with wounds and misunderstandings if not trauma activated …. participants need to explore further the truth of their relationship and be willing to let go of being right ….. to heal what needs healing or to change what needs to change … each is invited to make a dedication in their own words.
*A blessing of some sort is made, a calling in, a dedication – knowing that the ceremony and intent is of great import, as important as any other words that will be shared ….. knowing the ripples will go out further than these two individuals. We are not only doing this hard work for ourselves.
*A listening piece is chosen (see Way of Council to understand its relevance). There is then an agreed upon time frame of no more than 10 minutes sharing from each individual, back and forth twice, before any witness comments. With time guidance, we are able to keep our breath-present, our attention, our commitment to listen and speak with heart even if anger still is present.
*A guide would assist if needed to determine with the participants if a closing round will serve, when and if the time is complete for now. One hour is usually a good time frame with three rounds max. If more work and contact feels needed there is a follow up agreed on after a few day’s space.
Note: It may not be that all feels resolved. There are numerous times that it does not …and the council is ended. Still, something has changed for sure. People get up and leave and we see what power there is in intention, attention, prayer, ceremony…clearing the field on other levels. Once truth with heart has been spoken a new relationship is possible, a change of approach, attitude, structures, positions or even previous seats in the community becomes clear. So often we are simply not in the right seats for a good chemistry to unfold. It may be that even one or both people realize they are not to be in the community or in close relationship to each other at this time in their lives and other kinds of relationships are needed. Can they, can we make significant structural changes as well as internal changes …even separate…with heartful truth?
More often than not, with initiated adults, each feels we are working to be part of the healing and it is worth it! each tracks where they have offended another, added salt to a wound, and/or has a difference that needs to be simply accepted and honored. More often than not we newly see another, and apologies are real; each feels where they have learned something important for their own growth; each feels they have experienced greater compassion and are thankful for the conflict despite its challenge.
That said – all possibilities exist …what occurs is influenced by place, timing and all present. Sometimes, that old Beatles song LET it BE is appropriate …sometimes it is not our work to do. Each must listen for where, when and what is ours to do for the sake of all beings.
May we continue to find our way with the differences of all sizes, shapes and colors.