One of the most painful aspects of conflict involving serious harm is that we are forced to confront seemingly contradictory truths that threaten our foundational beliefs about who we are. Are good or bad people? Are we the harmdoer or the harmed? Are we deserving of dignity and forgiveness? Do we have to forgive everyone who has harmed us?
When these fundamental beliefs are challenged, it is easy to lose our access to compassion and curiosity (the two Keys of Loving Justice) on a neurobiological level. This is because if it is true that people we consider “good” are capable of serious harm, the world as we know it loses a layer of safety. We start to doubt our judgement, our sanity, and our own trustworthiness. As a result, many of us double down, demonizing the other and overlooking possibilities for reconnection.
Mindfulness and other contemplative traditions teach us that we can achieve enlightenment through the embodied understanding of non-duality. That is, multiple competing truths can exist side by side within the same heart. Through dedicated practice of mindfulness and embodiment, we can expand our capacity to hold multiple truths. This, in turn, can allow our bodies to feel less terrified in the face of intrapsychic and interpersonal conflict, opening the way to more creative and loving paths forward.