Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi

Peaceful Conflict Resolution

by Daniel Hertz

The practice of Yoga and Meditation allows us to learn and develop very useful relaxation and breathing skills. These skills facilitate the movement toward more inner awareness. When these same skills are applied to the external world, they can become valuable tools in helping others find peaceful solutions to conflicts. Mediation is a gentle approach for disputing parties to come together and discuss and resolve their differences. The most difficult and challenging problems can be resolved if each disputing party can slow their breathing, relax their shoulders, and let go of any tension in the forehead. As the Dalai Lama has said, “Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means.”

Many people are naturally very good at finding a way to resolve conflicts peacefully.  But this skill of conflict resolution is also something that can be taught. Recently I was asked to train a group of students, 18-21 years old, in peer mediation.  It is in a school for new immigrants in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Students from many different countries come together to form a school community.  Usually the incidence of behavior problems is very low.  Most of the students are there to make the most of the learning opportunity.  But occasionally the wrong mix of students gets caught up in a divisive way of thinking. This can result in conflicts between the different language groups that causes hostility and even violence.  The students need to be shown a method to resolve their conflicts peacefully.  I have witnessed many times that peer mediation skills can be taught to people of all ages and backgrounds.

A conflict between two people can either escalate or de-escalate. This depends on the reaction of each person involved in the dispute.  If someone directs their anger toward you and you respond with anger, the situation will escalate.   If you react to anger with a calm, caring, and compassionate tone, the situation will de-escalate.  This is always easier said than done, but it is possible.  Often our first instinct is to respond with anger when someone gets angry at you.  But we can learn from practicing Meditation that the reaction we have is a choice.  This choice does not have to be a reflection of what is coming at you.  It can be a reflection of what is inside of you.  We can also learn from Meditation that it is possible to detach, even just a little bit, from the hold that a strong emotion has on you. 

Through experience I have learned that it is not possible to resolve a problem when both parties are at the peak of their anger.  It may be necessary to wait for a few hours or until the next day to begin a mediation.  Relaxation and breathing exercises can help speed up the process of coming down from the anger mountain. If the two disputants cannot resolve the problem on their own, it may take a 3rd party to mediate the situation. Someone who can remain calm, relaxed, and neutral in the midst of angry people can learn to become a great mediator. The practice of Yoga and Meditation gives us these skills.

Editor’s Note:

Daniel will be giving a talk 9th April 2015 at The Meditation Center on "Peaceful Conflict Resolution."

Daniel Hertz (E-RYT 500) is an award winning teacher and counselor in the Minneapolis Public Schools and is on the faculty of The Meditation Center. He is the author of two Yoga-Meditation related books that benefit SRIVERM, the school in the remote Himalayas founded by Swami Hari.  Please see www.DanielHertzBooks.wordpress.com  for more information.

He has written the books Swami Hari: I am a simple forest monk and We Are Only Visitors. All profits from the sale of the books go to SRIVERM. These books are available at various bookstores, including the online bookstore at The Meditation Center, which ships nationally and internationally.

SRIVERM, INC. is a non-profit organization with the mission of communicating yoga instruction including meditation, breathing and relaxation practices in the Himalayan tradition and uplifting the poor especially through education. The Swami Rama Institute of Vocational Education and Research, Malethi, India was established by Swami Hariharananda Bharati in 2005 to give literacy, vocational and socio-economic development to the significantly underprivileged and underserved sections of the society in the district of Pauri Garhwal, Uttarkhand, in the Himalayas.  We invite you to visit their website: http://www.sriverm.net/home

Daniel has previously written these articles for the AHYMSIN Newsletter (to read, click on title):



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