ALL YOGA OR WHAT?
COURAGE TO ENGAGE IN "CONFRONTATIONAL" CONVERSATION
"Your fly is open." - "THANK YOU ♡" we reply with relief as we enter the concert hall. The mood is sublime and everyone is all dressed up.
When we go into an important meeting or just out of the house and our mascara has run in a night owl look, we do wish someone would point it out to us, rather than later when the thing has gone down, the video recording is in the can and the whole situation is burned in once and for all and can't be changed.
What if this moment of our encounter is ultimately not unpleasant at all,
but rather the person feels seen and accepted by us?
We have assumptions that prevent us from truly meeting each other and in my experience the result of such a meeting is often surprisingly beautiful and liberating and usually quite different from what we imagined! Of course, every true meeting can always lead to the fact that our ways separate.
Our need for harmony and tolerance are often greater than our displeasure, and so some people tend to put off addressing the issue. Much time passes, other participants turn to the teacher and complain, the atmosphere is strained. There are many examples of this, and it is admittedly not always easy to find good words, especially if someone is in a crisis situation or psychologically conspicuous and unstable.
Nevertheless, it is not helpful for anyone to delay the necessary clarification.
It takes a lot of energy to push the unresolved in front of you!
To invite some helpful thoughts for this process, I want to show a way in 5 steps that supports the courage to act.
1) Empathy - the recognition of our involvement.
In this step we become aware that something is wrong and that we are involved in a challenging situation. It is quite natural and human that, depending on our character, we prefer to distance ourselves, seek distance and evasively hold back or blurt out unasked and thus take the person affected by surprise.
It is not only important to feel this, but also to align our inner attitude so that the next steps are supported by goodwill. Small rituals of reflection can support us in this.
2) Reflection - Disentangling I - You - We
At this point we try to create a caesura and become aware of our projections and assumptions, judgments, our emotional touch and vulnerability as a whole. What is my part in this and my role in the process? Do I know the problem from other contexts? Does it happen to me occasionally? What is going on with the other person? Could there be other reasons than my interpretation for the other person's behavior? What need could be behind it? Could it be that someone else would not have this problem with the person? Questions that can help to pause and practice self-awareness - svādhyāya - in a practical way or to illuminate the problem in a conversation with colleagues or friends.
3) Compassion for myself and all involved is the basis of our teaching and behavior and leads to acting with benevolent intent. How do we want to meet each other? Even ourselves, long after the conflict has been resolved.
What image of man would make it easy? The Yoga Sutra 1.33 according to Patañjali offers here four great wisdoms of life, here indicated in my words:
Maitri Kindness and loving-kindness towards everyone and everything with positive attitude and high social competence, being able to read others
Karuna Compassion for other people's suffering, gentleness, kindness and helpfulness, and a good sense of interrelationships
Mudita Joyfulness with others, a joyful disposition, cheerfulness and humor
Upeksha in serenity, equanimity and generosity (accommodation, mercy, tolerance, understanding, not taking things personally...)
4) Honesty means truthfulness and authenticity - satya, one of the 5 basic ethical principles of the yamas .Ahiṃsā is the great virtue and way of not hurting, the further yama are in this light, also satya. It is a matter of acknowledging our, one's own truth, one's own needs and those of all concerned, and then acting sincerely. The outcome is open, but the action is based on a sattvic process and not on selfish reasons.
Marshall Rosenberg, founder of nonviolent communication, was visited by the police one evening in the company of a young woman who had just been picked up by the railroad tracks with suicidal intent. He had a strong need for rest and sleep at the time, explained himself to her, and asked her to come back the next morning, promising to stay away from railroad ties and the like in the meantime. She came again the following morning and after quite a few conversations in the aftermath, she told how much it had helped her that night to be able to do something for him. We cannot know what is really going on inside other people but we can touch each other in depth in our respective soul moment.
What would I do differently next time?
5) Integrating the learning experience
The credo of all conversations about similar challenges is that we need to find a way to approach a person with whom there is difficulty. It doesn't matter if it's our own discomfort or that of other class participants, the responsibility for the atmosphere that exists in our yoga classes is ours. We approach with an open mind, ready to accept the student's reaction and (if possible) not to take it personally, to be responsive to the other person's possibly quite different perspective and experience. It is not a matter of reprimanding behavior or seeking accommodation, usually it is enough to spend a few moments consciously together in a spirit of interested curiosity, when we are ourselves to ourselves, feeling open and grounded. With an open mind we work for the conditions in which the uniqueness of each person can emerge. Sometimes the relationship changes and sometimes we part and say goodbye.
In the best case scenario, all parties involved in the mutual process have
an experience for life.