It is common for practitioners of the various conflict engagement modes to focus on method and process, and on the roles and feelings of the individuals with whom they work. Julia’s work recognizes that the well-being and the state of mind and body of the “third party” is just as important to the dynamic “at the table” as the state of the parties or the issue at hand.
Our bodies are teachers and the body is often overlooked as a source of wisdom and as a bellwether or indicator of our mental, emotional and physical response to a thought or a situation.
Somatic awareness is not intuitive for most of us. A way to cultivate a sense of peace, renewal and awareness is through the practice of internal arts such as yoga, qigong, tai chi and meditation. However, that does not necessarily mean that practitioners of the internal arts always handle difficult situations well.
Awareness of our responses to challenging circumstances, combined with skill development, can improve our ability to work through conflict or difficult times.
The Mind-Body Connection and Stress
Stress is a fact of life. How we deal with it is what makes a difference. The relationship between the body and stress or conflict goes back to ancient times. “As above, so below” a traditional way to describe the connection between the body and the “spirit,” acknowledges that our bodies and minds reflect our response to what happens around us.
The term mindfulness conjures a range of responses, from a sense of connection and understanding, to frustration and impatience. Simply put, mindfulness is paying attention to or cultivating a heightened sense of awareness that can be physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Yoga, qigong and other mind-body practices can help to cultivate mindfulness.
In recent years, yoga and mindfulness went from relative obscurity to being the darling of advertisers. What is missed too often is the understanding that yoga can be adapted to suit most anyone. Gentle stretches that can be done in the office are capable of making a difference in our physical well being and professional performance. Mindfulness goes beyond mediation to include pausing to observe one’s own physiological responses.
Qigong includes moving forms such as tai chi, and non-moving forms of meditation that involve visualization. Yoga and qigong reduce stress and increase awareness of the connection between the inner and outer world.