Dialogue Creates a Tapestry of Peace



Kendra Graves

By cultivating positive intention within a contemplative space, inner peace becomes the foundation for resolving intrapersonal and interpersonal conflict. The process of introspection gives voice to thoughts, creating the threads of dialogue. Natural Awakenings spoke with three local advocates for peaceful conflict resolution: Tara Eisenhard, a divorce coach, mediator and founder of Relative Evolutions; Kendra Graves, founder of Earthseed Yoga; and Licensed Massage Therapist Ian Thomas. They all agree that beginning with an internal dialogue opens the door to peaceful communication with others.

“Any conflict is an opportunity for gaining understanding, fostering growth, deepening connections and viewing other perspectives. Once common ground is found, solutions become clear,” explains Eisenhard.

She describes divorce coaching and mediation as voluntary processes that take into account the safety of all participants, which must have a willingness to be open to the idea of dialogue. Ground rules include uninterrupted talking time for each person to voice concerns and goals, and a summary of what is said provided by the mediator, helping both speaker and listener to hear and understand.

“The dialogue process empowers people to speak their voice and come up with a creative solution for their problem, and it gives hope for the future of the community because people become kinder when they see one another as human,” relates Eisenhard, who confirms that the work has made her become a more compassionate, open-minded person.

“Contemplative practices that follow a moral code and couple internal self-dialogue with yoga and breathing put us on the path to interconnectedness, which is the goal of dialogue,” expresses Graves. “Our connections with other people affect our health. Dialogue not only helps us practice healthy relationships, it also contributes to our own well-being. Through conflict, we learn to recognize oppression, which comes from social injustice and power structures that create suffering.”

Graves came to the practice of yoga and dialogue because of the oppression and suffering she experienced in her own life as an African-American woman. “I wanted to share my story so that I didn’t have to do the work alone and to have an impact by creating kinship among people who understand one another’s suffering,” she notes. “I inspire healing in my community and transform heavy energy because it is good for all of us.”

Using storytelling, interwoven with yoga practice, as an avenue for sharing dialogue sheds light on life experiences for both teller and listener. “Whether we write about a celebratory event or about suffering imposed upon us, writing lets us listen to our souls’ stories,” observes Graves.

Non-violent communication seeks to create an opportunity for forgiveness, and can inspire current culture to move to a model of restorative, rather than retributive [an eye for an eye] justice. “The reason for activism and changing policy is to change minds and open hearts so that we can all be free,” advises Graves.

Thomas facilitates conflict resolution within the body and mind through CranioSacral Therapy (CST), a gentle bodywork that listens to and supports how the body is already healing itself physically, emotionally and energetically. “SomatoEmotional Release is an advanced practice of CST that is guided by the client's own inner wisdom, and may empower a person to choose how to respond to a conflict, rather than react out of a nonconscious charge likely embedded without personal choice from an earlier time in life,” he says.

“It may empower clients to become more connected with their bodies through their own felt senses, allowing the protectors within themselves to feel safe enough to step aside and allow the underlying fear, anger, sadness or inner child an opportunity to express what they need, discharge or transform disorganized energy and heal,” explains Thomas.

Nonviolent communication deeply informs his practice in a way that acknowledges that when people listen beneath their thoughts and behaviors to the underlying feelings and needs, they may emerge with strategies that meet needs more effectively. “Let’s explore the charges within ourselves, hold them with love and listen to them with compassionate curiosity,” suggests Thomas.

The power of dialogue comes from what each person brings to the conversation. Intricate weaving of common and uncommon story threads creates a tapestry of races, cultures and customs coming together to find creative, respectful solutions that advocate for change. “The most important thing about dialogue is to let it come out. Sharing our truths in a way that respects other people is a form of oral storytelling and our way of leaving a legacy for the world,” avows Graves.

Kendra Graves, EarthseedYogi@gmail.com, EarthseedYoga.com.

Tara Eisenhard, 717-686-9116, TaraEisenhard.com.

Ian Thomas, The Roots of Health, 3540 N. Progress Ave., in Harrisburg. ithomastroh@gmail.com, TheRootsOfHealth.com.

Gisele M. Siebold is a contributing writer to Natural Awakenings magazine. Connect at Gisele@NaturalCentralPa.com.

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