Self Awareness and Conflict Resolution

When I attended the 2011 Holistic Centers Gathering on behalf of the Findhorn Foundation, one of the questions people in other communities asked me most often was, “How does Findhorn deal with conflict?”

Life here in a spiritual community, just as anywhere, is full of joys and challenges and it sometimes feels intense, sharing in such closeness with others, especially when conflict arises. As a person whose defense is more likely to withdraw than confront, dealing with conflict is a real growing edge! Living and working closely together in community there are times when I’m faced with the question can I keep my heart open, even in difficult circumstances?

I recognise how sensitive I am when communication is less than clear and harmonious and find such conversations painful. I’ve been exploring the idea lately that perhaps people in community hope to create the family around them that they never had growing up? For me this is deep, authentic communication where feelings match what is being expressed and there is less confusion and anxiety about what’s really going on around and within me…

I recognise a yearning to create an atmosphere where underlying issues can be explored and win/win solutions discovered, to deepen relationship and connection.

Life feels like a continual learning experience, through every interaction with both myself and others, which needs to begin with self awareness. As an ‘apprentice’ co-worker in the Foundation, within the ‘Living Essentials Apprentice Program’ (LEAP) I can, more fully than when I first arrived, embrace the idea of Findhorn as a ‘mystery school.’ LEAP is revealing itself as a ‘rite of passage’ teaching me exactly what I need to learn, however dark or uncomfortable it feels sometimes, especially for someone so attached to the ‘light’.

Through my work in the garden I began to blend the ‘first rule of permaculture’, observation, observation, observation, closely followed by listening and learning, with the practice of mindfulness in everyday life. One of my challenges in this lifetime is the art of communication, being clear, expressive and in connection with myself. Conflict, which I always prefer to avoid, is revealing itself as a learning ground, through which I can refine my communication and keep opening my heart. I’m continually learning to balance speaking up and letting go.

I recently sent out a survey to the participants of the 2012 Gathering and amongst the most popular areas of interest are the following topics; sustainability, conflict resolution and holistic leadership. Our dynamic chair of management, Ana Rhodes, will share on these topics during our week together and I was really interested to read that she will also be offering an education session to all co-workers in the Findhorn Foundation community on the 8th May to understand the creative tension of opposites.

Within our life journeys, conflict is an inescapable part of the human experience. Ana will help us explore the creative mind that lives at the heart of a conflict. Many of us have a tendency to freeze or trance out when we experience our self entangled between opposite sides, whether they are internal experiences or in relationship to others.

How can we be a part of a conflict and at the same time be a part of the solution?

•Recycled or unresolved conflict is a source of chronic tension and dissatisfaction. It can escalate in many ways. In organisations, it can sabotage strategic goals and contribute to burnout and staff turnover. In the world it is the root of oppression and violence.

• Conflict can also be a source of positive change—when the energy contained in the conflict can be transformed from a destructive force to a creative opportunity.

• Conflict unfolded nurtures personal growth, deepens relationships, facilitates organisational change and creates community.

Specific topics that we will aim to explore include:

•  Working in emotionally intense situations
•  Mediating between individuals
•  Understanding conflict systemically
•  Concept of safety and conflict
•  Communication—feedback, criticism and double messages
•  Understanding hierarchy, rank, power and privilege
•  Conflict and the environment

I’m sure this session will be a great foundation for our exploration of conflict resolution during the Gathering