Conflict often requires a larger container than our everyday mind, organization or even our community can hold.
Nature offers us a way to find new possibilities, beyond the limits of our social conditioning into systems of supremacy, traumas and disconnection.
This is not an approach you only think through. Instead, it is something you also experience in your body, your emotions, your spirit.
This activity taps into the healing potentials of altered states similar to meditative awareness, neurofeedback, or psychoactive plants to help you gain access to a more centered perspective.
Jia went to a park near her house to do this exercise. She relaxed until she felt her breath become more even, and her mind less crowded. Then she asked what she needed to be aware of in a conflict with a colleague. At first she didn't notice much. Then she became aware of a strong smell. She realized there were aspects of the conflict that really really stunk! She had been so focused on being kind and understanding that she hadn't really allowed herself to say what "smelled bad" to her about her colleague's behaviour. She said thankyou for the experience. As she walked home, she committed to bringing her voice out more about the stinky things, not just the positive ones. She anchored it by saying "this stinks!"and crinkling her nose.
Seyad went to a beach for this exercise. They lay down on the sand to relax and find more calm. Closing their eyes, they asked about how they could manage a difficult conflict, feeling very hopeless. They took a few breaths. When they opened their eyes and looked at the waves, their eyes caught on a ship in the distance they hadn't noticed before. Looking closely, they were astonished to see the words "Wisdom Line" written on the ship. Very moved, Seyad felt it was reassurance of their own wisdom, encouraging self trust. This helped Seyad feel more centered in the heart area, and realize inner encouragement was necessary to bring a more hopeful attitude into the conflict which had gotten very stuck. Seyad anchored this insight with a hand on the heart, saying "I can trust my inner wisdom".
Examples (Fictional names, real experiences)
Step 1: Find a safe place and begin to relax
When all else fails (or before all else fails) give up problem-solving and go ask the ocean.
This means, spend time in a safe natural setting if you have access to one.
This doesn't have to be in a majestic park. A creek, an urban patch of grass with bees buzzing, a favourite tree, or glimpse of the sky will do.
Let your body, breath and mind settle into the environment. Scan your body and relax tension in your neck, jaw, eyes, chest and stomach.
Step 2: Ask your question and let go as you can
When you feel a little more relaxed, simply ask your question, and then breathe.
Hear, smell, see, touch and feel the space around you.
Give it a little time, don't try to interpret right away.
Be open to what catches your attention. Notice your experiences. Breathe.
Whatever you receive, simply offer thanks.
Step 3: Unfold with curiousity and apply
After a little while, ask if that experience is related somehow to the question you asked.
Be curious and metaphorical in your thinking. How might what you saw, smelled, felt, heard or related with be helpful to your conflict? Insights are usually connected with a rush or pleasant shift in energy. Beware your inner critic masquerading as an insight - that usually feels more stuck.
Find a way to anchor any insights. Make a sound, statement, movement or jot down a note about your experience. Notice where you feel it in your body or how it changes the way you walk, relate or perceive. Notice if the experience changed your sense of yourself or the conflict.
Bring any insights back into your everyday routines and decisions.