The Eclipse as a Mirror of Conflict: Internal, Interpersonal and Global by Michelle Katz
There is nothing like an eclipse season to bring up a reflection of contrast and conflict. The energetic, experiential and visual dramatic meeting of two seemingly opposites sides in drastic juxtaposition with each other.
It is in this that I cannot help but think about the ways conflict can be approached. Can it be a battle or create more intimacy? Be it inner conflict, interpersonal conflict or global conflict, what is the process one chooses to approach this particularly natural happening in our lives?
As I watched the eclipse this week, I could not help but be in awe of its way of meeting. Dark and light, day and night coming together. I almost felt as if I was seeing something far too intimate and otherworldly for me to witness as a human being.
So, I began to feel the eclipse inside of me and bring it back to the human experience, as I sit in the reflection of how nature mirrors us and how we mirror nature.
Let us look at inner conflict first. It can take so many forms: shame, doubt, judgment, the battle of the ego not wishing to be humbled. We live in a culture that is focused on “be happy” which leaves us in utter conflict when these inner experiences arise and we are simply and irrevocably not happy. There are many ways to face this inner turmoil. Some may want to step away from this painful experience, focus more of the pleasure and positive elements of life. Asking, what can I do for relief from this inner experience. We may find ourselves focusing on outward tasks: cooking, work, relying on relationships to regulate us. Another option may be to sit with it, stay, feel it fully though, emotional expression, writing or art, or long internal dialogues on nature walks. Perhaps asking ourselves, what is so uncomfortable about this, what are the triggers that led me here, how can I experience this in a way that provides some nurturing growth for my future. This way truly requires a willingness to be uncomfortable, terribly, terribly, uncomfortable without knowing when it may end or how it could possibly be resolved within ourselves.
Then let us look at how we do conflict on an interpersonal level. It is easy to see dichotomy in interpersonal conflict dynamics. Each person will like vehemently defend their way of seeing things. It is in interpersonal relationship that we truly come to see our patterns with conflict. We can have the experience of wishing that our interpersonal relationship is all light and loving, but the fact is that we are drawn to people who, at one point or another, trigger us. Leaving us to question our ability to be loved and show us how we each hold a different way of being in the world, and the one we love holds it in a way we are not able to own and honor in ourselves. When in conflict interpersonally, a stubbornness can easily arise. And how we want to move into this is key to our way with conflict. We can ignore and push though, again focusing on distractions or pleasure seeking. Or we can choose to move in. If we choose to move in, we choose to get really messy with each other. We are then choosing to ask big questions: is this worth it, am I willing to experience myself differently, am I willing to be really terribly uncomfortable in order to find my/our way through and out of this toward some greater growth and understanding? Am I willing to do what’s easy or what’s challenging? Am I willing to get ugly and wild and awful and still find a way or a willingness to be loved in it, through it, for it. Am I willing to choose connection and learning toward a compassionate end? Or do I want to walk away because it is no longer fulfilling? Is it about who win or losses or is it about discovering an alternative that’s not easily seen or revealed? Mostly, am I willing to be transformed by this conflict? Find the intimacy, when shadow overlaps the bright sunlight?
Now, let us look at the global conflict. Todays news, the headlines: Conflict between countries, or world leaders, conflict within countries, conflict between peoples of different beliefs or cultures or race, conflict of climate, the conflict does not seem to cease on this global level. And so, it reveals how each of us meets contracting energies. Do we look the other way? Do offer a blanket statement “we see the world differently” or “it’s both sides that are wrong”? Do we fight with words of constant protest or loaded threats without true outcome? Do we take drastic actions, running people over with violent intent? Or we sit with each other, and look at values and needs, as Marshal Rosenberg so graciously advises in his study and practice of non-violent communication. Do we rage and stay in opposition or find a way through? Do we choose to rely on ego and stubbornness or understanding and growth? Do we stumble through incredible discomfort, owing the ugly way we can be and the blindness we can practice? Only to eventually begin to turn toward each other in conscious ways of communication and seeing, toward creating a once unforeseen resolution? What need is being met? Or not met? What values do we have in common? How can everyone be seen and heard and felt and compassionately open up? How is the sun and the moon more similar than different?
This reveals to me the ways we practice our human nature. We naturally go around and around the medicine wheel. We feel the depths of emotion, we tantrum and argue or we aim to distract and see what we want to see in pleasure seeing proclivity. We then move into an introspective place with the conflict, asking: who am I in this? Reviewing the conflict and taking it into the depths of our soul, requiring us to sit in the darkness with it for the duration until something bright reveals itself. Then we can move forward and bring perspective and truly come to see ourselves and the other with what we mutually have to give in the way of growing and relating. And then, only then, can we find the transformation place in all this conflict, that bright light that comes to contact with that dark place we sat in for so long. Only then, do we know a new way of being.
In our western culture, we often stuck in the first two stages of the wheel, vacillating between pleasure seeking or drastic emotional reactions and the deep introspective meeting the dark places and then back to pleasure seeking and drastic emotions. We rarely choose to navigate our way though the dark toward a greater seeing of one another and a transformation that can alter us, our relationships and the world we live in. The navigating through is where initiation happens. It is the invitation to not remain in a sole state but rather move into a soul state.