Recently at Interplayers Theatre, I saw the play Brighton Beach Memoirs by Neil Simon. It was an incredible performance that exemplified the topic at hand – conflict.
The story is about Eugene, an adolescent, Jewish boy in 1937. He recalls his memories of living with his parents, aunt, two female cousins, and his brother at a time when he was going through puberty, sexual fantasy, poverty, and living in a crowed home. In this play, Eugene Jerome, played by Nich Witham, gave an over-exaggerated sense (in a fantastic performance) of not being heard and doing what he could to find his place and get his needs met in this family.
This play was a great backdrop for me to expound on how to resolve conflict and the pitfalls of communication. Here are some helpful steps.
2. You have an aura around you which is part of your energetic self. Imagine pulling your aura in around your body. Pull it in about 6 – 8 inches around you.
3. Focus in your heart and bring your attention out of the top of your head into the heavens.
4. Image the person there with you. At this level, send them love from your heart. You may also imagine sending them golden white Light from your heart.
5. If you can do this without anger or negative feelings, talk with them at this level
6. Come back down, image yourself filling up with golden white Light and release any leftover energy down your grounding cord.
Steps to resolve conflict in person.
1. Write out the situation in your journal and then re-read it the next day. Sometimes it helps to do this a few times, so that you can become clear on what happened and what you want to communicate.
2. Become aware of your own part of the situation, even if you perceive it to be minor in comparison to the other person.
3. If you are angry, look at where you may be feeling hurt or fearful. These emotions are often right under the surface of anger. Feel your feelings and let them go. Journal them over and over if need be.
4. Contact the person you are having conflict with and use clear, direct, honest communication. I suggest you meet in person (not via text or email) because this allows you not only to read the body language, but also to open your heart.
5. Give the other person the chance to communicate their side completely. It is helpful to use the words, “I heard you say,” and repeat back to them what you heard and let them clarify. This helps them to feel heard. You can hear what someone is saying without agreeing with them. It is important that you hear.
6. Once the other person feels heard, share your side. They may not listen well and you may not feel heard. If that is the case use the broken record method. Continue to say the core message again and again, “I hear what you say, and ______.” Yes, that is true, and _______.” Do this until they are able to understand they are not hearing you.
7. Make a request of the person such as “My request is we put this behind us and go on from here,” or “My request is that we continue to meet and talk weekly until we can resolve this.” You can use whatever it is that you desire.
8. Trust your intuition, and use as many of these steps as you would like. If the person is not willing to meet with you or clear the situation with you, then move on and let it go. No longer allow them into your energy field and set healthy boundaries. (I will share more about this in a future video and blog.)
Sometimes people have a hard time clearing conflict because of negative communication patterns. Often these reactions were learned in early childhood as a survival response to a dysfunctional family. In this case they may triangle in other people to take sides, or become passive aggressive and rather than talking with you directly, they will be passive in their aggression in a subversive manner.
One of the books I recommend for healthy communication is Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg
This inteview was conducted at the Yashodhara Ashram in British Columbia, Canada on the beautiful Kootenay Lake.This is part 3 of 3 parts.
(Some sections have been edited for grammar.)
Candess:When you are talking about that, some of the yogas like the Divine Light Invocation is one of the tools I have been using here and there are so many tools. It has been incredible. What is one of your favorite tools?
Swami Samayananda: For me, one of my favorites is Mantra. I have had a mantra practice since early 1980s. I also do my practice with a harmonium, which I like. There is that whole practice of having an instrument. I tend to be restless by nature so it gives my hands something to do. Also, singing has been a big part of my life. To be able to channel all of that into the mantra and to have a practice like that that doesn’t get old, it just keeps getting deeper and deeper and it feels to me like a dear friend. It is where I go each day and it offers me tremendous support.
Candess: I love the Satsang. The chanting and the mantra is so beautiful. I have a book coming out in January that is called 12 Weeks to Self-Healing: The Gift of Pain. What way would you say that one of the Yoga practices would be helpful in self-healing?
Swami Samayananda: Swami Radha wrote a book called The Yoga of Healing. In it, there are several chapters. Some I remember are working with the Light. It is a small book and at the end of each chapter it has four practices you can do. The first one is on the Light and the Divine Light Invocation is one practice. There is also a section on breath. We know that connection with breath and our own healing and when we get anxious, the breath shortens, shortens, and shortens. That is not healthy for the body. Working with breath is healthy and calming for the body. Also, Hatha Yoga, especially when it I approached from more than the physical. What is my body saying to me as I am going into the pose and doing the pose. Mantra, absolutely for sure. Especially the Hari Om mantra is a healing mantra. Using mantra is healing as well. Relaxation is very healing. Those are a few.
Candess: That is great! One of the reasons I came her is to rest. I had been pushing myself too hard. We had a whole day on learning to rest. I learned so many tools that I would not have known before. It’s been very helpful.
If someone wanted to go on retreat here, what would be the best way for them to find out about the programs?
Swami Samayananda: The best way would be to go to our website and just take a look at what we offer. There is a whole range from weekend workshops to 3 day retreats, 4 day retreats, 10 day retreats like you are on now, to our 3 month Yoga Development Course. There is just about something for everybody. Our basic retreats really introduce people to the practices we offer here, Swami Radha’s teachings. There are some specific ones, like we have one coming up called the Inner Life of Asanas which is a way of going deeper with the Hatha Yoga practice. We had one this summer not too long ago called Facing Change, Exploring Options, so there are lots of different ways for people to come and be here. People can also come on private retreat and join with us for a couple hours in Karma Yoga so they feel connected in the community. The rest of the times, they can enjoy the prayer rooms. It is beautiful as you said. The trails, the lake, the Temple, the library are all available for people when they are here.
Candess: I went to the Temple the other night and I could just feel Swami Radha there. I thought, this must be her favorite place.
Swami Samayananda: – It is.
Candess: It was so clear to me. It was so beautiful there.
Swami Samayananda: – She said when she died, that is where she would go.
Candess: I have another guide that I work with and I was connecting with this guide, but Swami Radha was right there, so I thought OKAY!
Is there anything else that would be helpful for people to know about being a Swami or your life path or being here at the Ashram.
Swami Samayananda: I think one thing that is important for people to know about coming here is it is a time of renewing, learning some practices, some tools as you said to take away. There is no dogma in yoga. There is not doctrine. It is not a religion. I think it is really important. We are an Ashram; it is a spiritual community, so we have people who come who are Buddhist, who are Christian, who practice in the Jewish faith, Muslims, and people who have no particular tradition that they follow but are open to that spiritual dimension and they just want to take a step further. I think that is often a relief.
When people come, we do have imagery around. Imagery and symbolism whether we know it or not is very important to us. We live it anyway and symbols are there simply as a symbol that is reflecting some in ourselves so sometimes for some people, and part because of our Christian Judaic background in the West, images can be a little off-putting; but they are so beautiful and the have so much to say to us if we open them up and take them apart. I think the biggest thing is it is a beautiful place to be, to heal, to renew, to gain perspective and then take what is meaningful back out; bridge it back out to your life, back home, family, friends, work, whatever. Often people will come back and get a little bit more and take it back, back and forth. That is what I did for years.
Candess: That is wonderful! It took me probably to day eight until I started feeling myself again, so it was such a wonderful place to renew and relax. Thank you so much.