I’ve been noticing and feeling the energies of division in our culture, and our world. At times it feels as though we are moving backwards in our quest for a more unified and peaceful world. When I feel this way, it’s time to look within and see where I am creating disruption within myself and my world.
This reflection brings me back to Peacemaking.
I first learned about Peacemaking from Jon Young, founder of 8 Shields. Peacemaking, as it was first taught to me, is a deep tradition with an ancient native american lineage, and it has profoundly affected my life. Other cultures have parallel traditions: Ahimsa, or non-violence, from India, was foundational to Gandhi’s human rights work in South Africa and India; Ho’oponopono from Hawaii is an ancient Hawaiian peacemaking practice of reconciliation and forgiveness; Certain branches of Buddhism’s eightfold path are deeply informed by a peacemaker ethic; And core Christian teachings such as “love thy neighbor” and “treat others as you would have them treat you” are deep peacemaking principles.
Unfortunately, in our often competitive world, peacemaking is not only undervalued, it is largely unknown. It is present though. I see pockets of peacemaker concepts in methodologies like Nonviolent Communication and Conscious Parenting, but how can we learn it and apply it to right livelihood and mystic business?
If you are on this right livelihood journey, you are on a personal development path that will not happen in a vacuum. Family members, partners, and clients are points of contact. They are the surface area which allows us to see ourselves in the mirror and use our tools of consciousness. At these points of contact, you need to speak – and listen – so you can hear each other. You need to be able to work together towards a common goal and resolve conflict.
Ultimately, peacemaking is about finding ways to enjoy the process while we learn and grow. By “enjoy,” I don’t mean that this is always going to be fun. Rather, we learn through peacemaking to appreciate and accept all of our experiences, even those which are most uncomfortable and challenging.
The following is a set of guidelines to peacemaking which I would like to share.
The IN BREATH is gratitude: First, and most important, start with gratitude. Gratitude is the container for everything. The original Thanksgiving address creates a container allowing things to flow smoothly.
Assume positive intent: What if we accepted that everyone is trying to do their best? What if we gave up the victim mentality and looked for the good in everyone and every situation? Assuming positive intent in every point of contact sets us up for positive interaction.
Listening: Listen deeply and speak kindly. If you lived by only these two things, you would be doing more peacemaking than most people today. Listening deeply isn’t waiting to talk, or looking for a moment to interrupt. There is so much talking these days on a surface level. People are being triggered and feeling the need to defend. Listening deeply with a quiet mind allows you to be open, connect to the person speaking, and look for understanding of the person’s motivation.
Seek unity, clarity and connection: Unity means being on the same page. Though we may not always agree, we can allow each other to speak our truth. We can listen to each other and find clarity. We can develop the deep connection that leads to peaceful interaction.
Honor the differences: The world is built on diversity. We are all in different stages and phases of our lives. We come from different cultures and have different vocabularies. Our differences create a beautiful and rich tapestry. Once, differences were perceived to be a disadvantage, and in the new paradigm, we benefit from each other’s differences.
Speak the unspokens: I came into this world speaking the unspokens and it hasn’t always meant a lot of light was reflected back to me. Speaking the unspokens means saying what no one else is saying. We don’t have time for muddy waters anymore. Unspokens leave huge gaps between us. What is being called forth at a soul level is authenticity and connection. Speaking the unspokens isn’t only what is unspoken within me. It is noticing the lack of unity when someone else is not speaking. It’s taking a moment to say, “Do you have something to say? Is there something that doesn’t resonate with you?” I have found that when I speak an unspoken, it breaks the tension in the conversation and allows transparency and clarity as a result.
Knowing when to speak: This is one of the trickiest lessons in peacemaking. There is a time to speak your truth, and a time to listen. When I feel triggered, I know it is time to pause and reach clarity within before I react and cause the energy to escalate. Walking the line of knowing when to speak means watching for times when you did not speak and should have, and times when you spoke and it would have been better to pause. It is seeking to use well-chosen words with deep consideration for the impact those words will have on the ones receiving them.
Mediation: Mediating for the self is pausing and coming to peace within. Mediating for others is stepping in and helping to smooth the way. We are not winners and losers; we are building a bridge together. How can we come out of this interaction more connected?
Discernment: We live in a culture of judgment, right/wrong, good/bad. Moving from judgment to discernment means seeing the differences and identifying what resonates for you and what doesn’t. We are wired to discern differences. There are ash trees and oak trees, brown cows and black cows, plants that bring health and plants that bring disease. We see the differences but we don’t judge them. Discernment is removing the energy that is criticism or polarity and replacing it with identifying what is different and how those differences contribute to the conversation.
Accept responsibility: Be able to say, “I’m sorry.” Not in the way of accepting blame or shame, but as an acknowledgement of our human tendency to perceive separation, to judge, and to carry negative feelings that feed conflict and cause pain. It requires looking inwards to identify where we have created separation, and to acknowledge that this may have resulted in actions or words that caused another pain. To accept responsibility is to exhibit the courage to stand up and be responsible for your thoughts, words and deeds and the willingness to move back to unity and connection.
The OUT BREATH is gratitude: Peacemaking is feeling gratitude for the things that went well, and the things that helped us learn and brought us back in alignment with our truth and passion. It is gratitude for all that transpires on this journey of right livelihood.
Lindsay’s is calling all modern Peacemakers. If you are a Peacemaker interested in journeying in a circle of other Peacemakers reach out to us here. Until then…see you in the Society.