By Mary Boutieller
Conflict is sometimes necessary for our own spiritual and emotional growth.
As we move into October, I imagine that we are all in a bit of disbelief that “this” is still going on. We are still dealing with the wrath of Covid-19, trying to make sense of ongoing information being presented to us, trying to decide best practices and actions to keep ourselves and loved ones safe, and yet trying to have some semblance of life as we once knew it. On top of that, a major election is coming up, civil unrest continues and, sometimes, it feels as if the “plate of conflict” can’t get any fuller!
For me, “conflict” has been an underlying theme for most of the past month—conflict within myself, conflict with others, conflict with ideas and truths that are not my own, conflict between friends and family. And I kept hoping that something else would arise for me to write about—but nothing else has—so here I am sitting with the presence of conflict needing to be expressed. What is that saying, “What we resist persists?”
Dealing with conflict isn’t easy or comfortable for me. I was raised to not rock the boat. In many ways, this seemed easier. If I didn’t disagree with others, they would continue to like me; I would not be seen as a threat or a bother or different. I would not garner attention.
Krishnamurti said, “In seeking comfort, we generally find a quiet corner in life where there is a minimum of conflict, and then we are afraid to step out of that seclusion.” So true! Why make things uncomfortable? Why stir the pot when we can stay blissfully ignorant of our own passions, our own desires, our own thoughts? Why rock the boat?
Some of us are struggling with the conflict of our times and are trying to make sense of how we feel about all that is going on. What, we may be wondering, should we do? Do we evade? Do we react? Do we hide our heads in the sand and hope it will all go away? For me, the more important question to ask is, “How do I want to behave, respond and reflect when conflict is presented?”
Recently, there have been a couple of conflicts in my life, and I’ve had to sit with the energy and ramifications of both. I’ve had to question and examine my part in the play of drama that unfolded; I’ve had to sit with my unwillingness to get involved; I’ve had to set aside my ego to try to resolve things where I could. You see, I’m not perfect! My “Italian” gets all riled up and I can get very passionate about things! And, although I’ve let go of some of my need to fight the good fight on just about everything, there is still a part of me that wants to tell you a thing or two about that particular subject!
Oprah Winfrey said, “I am a woman in process .I’m just trying like everybody else. I try to take every conflict, every experience, and learn from it. Life is never dull.” I love this quote and couldn’t have said it better. We are all just trying to learn about ourselves, figure things out, do better next time around. I am trying to see others’ points of view, to get out of my own way, to walk in another’s shoes, and sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s not.
So what do we do when conflict arises in our lives? Yoga provides one of the best tools for this—we can just breathe. We can wait, breathe, ponder and find the truth hidden beneath the layers of habit and happenstance. We can teach ourselves how to respond with compassion instead of reacting with righteous indignation. We can choose kindness and find understanding, and we can try to weed out the commonality instead of the division. I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m unlikely to truly understand some of the stances I have heard lately. I’m not easily swayed from the truths I hold dear. Sometimes I’ll get it right, sometimes I’ll let it pass, and sometimes my passionate Italian side will take over and I’ll have to say what I feel needs to be said. It’s my hope that I can learn to do so with more compassion, more reason and less vitriol.
Alaric Hutchinson said, “Bravery is the choice to show up and listen to another person, be it a loved one or perceived foe, even when it is uncomfortable, painful, or the last thing you want to do.” I don’t know very much about Alaric, but I loved his byline: “Alaric is a lifestyle coach who advises people on how to become the master of their life by turning the negative energy in their lives into fertilizer that will help them bloom into happy and confident adults.” Is he saying what I think he is saying here?? Maybe all that negative energy really is a bunch of crap! And maybe we can transform it into something useful.
I think that conflict is sometimes necessary for our own spiritual and emotional growth. We tend not to grow when we are too comfortable, when we don’t question, when we don’t try to enlarge the protective bubble of our hearts and minds. And yet, in the end, what we will remember is how they or we reached out, how we became the better angels and extended the olive branch, how they bridged the gap between love and hate. For the truth is that we need each other to make it all work, and how we handle what life throws our way is up to us. Do we hold it all in and wonder why our relationships aren’t working, or do we try to find the ties that hold the weaving in place?
Aberjhani said, “This world’s anguish is no different from the love we insist on holding back.” So I ask, what are we holding back and why?
Let us find our center, practice peace and yoga and meditation, get out in nature and remember who we really are and why we are here in the first place. Lets decide what we are willing to carry along with us in this world, and what we are willing to let go of—once and for all.
Mary Boutieller is a Registered Yoga Teacher through Yoga Alliance. She has been teaching yoga since 2005. Her work experience includes 22 years as a firefighter/paramedic and 10 years as a Licensed Massage Therapist. Mary’s knowledge and experience give her a well-rounded understanding of anatomy, alignment, health and movement in the body. She is passionate about the benefits of yoga and the ability to heal at all levels through awareness, compassion, and a willingness to explore. She can be reached at: SimplyogaOm@gmail.com.