Facing a new year is like jumping into a pool of new possibilities. What do you want your life to be like? Would you change something if you could? Engaged Spirituality and Conflict Transformation can help you do both, by empowering you to change what no longer feels good and imagining a better Self!
Engaged Spirituality and Conflict Transformation.
The first time I heard the term Engaged Spirituality was many years ago from a spiritual teacher by the name of Thich Nhat Hanh. Actually, he called it Engaged Buddhism. Through my involvement with many faiths and spiritual lifestyles, a privilege I am grateful for, I have since broadened the term to Engaged Spirituality. It is a frame of mind and heart that calls us to Love. I don’t mean in the same way that we love Doritos, I mean Love as though we “see” the connection between ourselves and those who affect our lives. Through this connection, when something hurts us or those we Love, we can choose more thoughtful ways of helping. If we are the source of hurt, this connection helps us ensure what we are doing or saying is understood for its intent and desired change. This connection can help us to behave differently. For example, we can choose a new approach aware that what hurts others can be hurtful to ourselves. Ultimately, we are aspiring to use Engaged Spirituality for all interactions with creation.
I am not saying there is some simple way to gain this sense of connection and mindfulness. It is a far cry, for example, from my own upbringing and I still struggle to be able to use these techniques as my own first line of response. Perhaps, like me, you tend to switch to remote when faced with social problems, thereby stopping yourself from looking for positive alternatives. Perhaps like me, you then feel something nagging at you, letting you know that this pattern of responding to conflict is hurting you and often also those you care about. Engaging our deepest Self (I call it Spirit) allows creative options to emerge in our thoughts.
Many of us may have had little nurturing in spirituality that embodies loving ourselves with kind and loving awareness. We may never have experienced the difference between fending off complaints of someone with harsh words in a state of emotional numbness and defence, rather than facing conflict with skilled use of compassionate listening and loving speech, emotional presence, and healthy vulnerability.
I am old enough to have experienced many relationships and to have learned approaches to healing brokenness and the trauma that can be caused between people. I have also been inspired to look for a different way to face life’s challenges through many faith groups and spiritual leaders. The result has led me to nonviolent conflict resolution and the principles of conflict transformation. These approaches have empowered many people to face damaging conflicts and obtained better outcomes.
Conflict Transformation is much more than solving problems. The goal of Conflict Transformation is to see social conflict as an opportunity for creating change that builds greater understanding, adapts the framework of relationships, lets them grow and mature, and negotiates constructive options. (paraphrased from JP. Lederach in The Little Book of Conflict Transformation).
Conflict Transformation can be a source of Engaged Spirituality because it explores the creative, assumes the beauty in all creation, and inspires the loving connection of all human beings. Over the last 40 years there has been a wealth of reflection, study, and research on how to apply the principles of Conflict Transformation in conflicts from the personal to the global. It has proven to be effective in damaging situations as wide-ranging as stopping actual physical violence to helping adversaries to see the humanity in their enemy and seek other solutions that truly help the root causes of the hostility.
Unfortunately, most people are not familiar with Conflict Transformation and how it can heal the conflicts we face in our personal lives, in our communities, and in global contexts.
That is my inspiration. I want us to jointly explore how the principles of Engaged Spirituality and Conflict Transformation can empower us to a better life; to a healthier, kinder, more intentional way of being that benefits us, even as it encourages us to be of benefit to others.
Will you give these processes a try and become an ally and adventurer into a new paradigm of empowered dynamic living?
The next Conflict Styles Workshop on Knowing Your Personal Conflict Styles will focus on men between the ages of 30-50 years of age. The Date is March 20 7 p.m. EST. Details will be available on Eventbrite by Monday, January 23.