I have an audio tape by Alan Watts where he states that, in Sanskrit, the English words “unity” and “yoke” come from the same root as the Sanskrit word “yoga”.  He says, when Jesus has been translated as having said, “my yoke is not heavy” in Matthew 11:30, it also could have been translated as “my yoga is not heavy”.

In the West, we think of “yoga” as being physical postures and exercise, or “asanas”.  More properly, however, the word “yoga” means any spiritual practice that brings one into a psychological experience of unity.  In some Hindu lineages in India (or so I have been told), mindfulness meditation is known as “raja yoga” (which translates literally as “the royal yoga”), devotion to Krishna, Durga, Christ, Buddha, or other spiritual figure is called “bhakti yoga”, and they call fulfilling one’s role in society (as mother, father, worker, citizen, etc.) as “karma yoga”.  There is also kundalini yoga, nada yoga, and many others.  The point is, any activity that leaves one feeling more connected with one’s soul, with the rest of humanity, and with Divinity at large, is a yoga.

My opinion is that conflict resolution, when done in a structured, intentional, loving, and disciplined way, is a deep and profound yoga.  Ideally, one ends up feeling much more connected, rather than lonely and separated from, with the person or people one was conflicting with, with one’s deepest self, with humanity at large, with the natural world, and with Divinity, after having done so.  That’s what the stack of articles on communication skills that I have photocopied and have been sharing with friends are for me – they are a guide to making conflict be a yoga, a fire of purification for both people that burns away our pettiness and illusions.  They are about being both strong and loving at the same time when someone is angry, which, if done well, creates love, connection, union, and transcendence.

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