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Paths to Harmony

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I sit many mornings overlooking the rice fields of Ubud, working out the next stage of our yoga studio project and discussing new ideas with Kadek, my business partner and husband. Some people tell me my life is ideal, but often I see it as an exercise in juggling. So many complicated issues and activities vying for my time, with little left over for the successful development of … myself.

Silly isn’t it? In the midst of peaceful surroundings, we can be too busy to pause and enjoy. But without an awareness of the time spent in each moment, how can I make the most of my life. Let alone be a successful Mom, boss, partner or friend.
The theme of this issue of Yoga Life is non-violence, what the Buddhist calls “Ahimsa”; more than just the absence of violence, a whole way of thinking and behaving. I love the opportunity this gives me to reflect on this principle in my life. Himsa is violence, but Gandhi said a-himsa means infinitely more than the absence of violence. He said: “you may not offend anybody; you may not harbour uncharitable thought,…. there are no enemies.”screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-5-26-23-pm

Wow. These are powerful thoughts and on a daily basis much more challenging than simply forgoing violence. I believe basic principles such as these should underpin every relationship we have and every moment we encounter. In the relationships around me, including the many involved in running our businesses, I try to begin from respect for others, valuing the differences between us and offering my trust and belief in them. Mostly, it is relatively simple to say I will not act “violently” with clients, employers and family. We are on the same team, as it were, so I look for ways to offer win/win situations for everyone – and remind myself to be solution oriented, cultivating patience in myself.
I understand the value of personal growth, and know that growth means different things for different people, because we each have our own personal paths. We can only work on ourselves, but we become our best through our interactions with others, probably because these can be the most challenging times of our lives.

In our daily bustle, we can get too caught up in what is “urgent”. Things that are pressing right now, issues that are up close to us, what’s literally staring us in the face. Sometimes those urgent things are not even important, but just the phone ringing, or a meeting this afternoon. Some of these, like a to do list before a holiday, will actually not matter if left undone, but we waste our precious time on them. Ironically, the really important things can usually wait, and if we are not careful, we make them wait until they too become urgent. Things like developing relationships, planning, training, taking some personal relaxation time, sorting out disagreements.
At work, people often avoid challenging issues, rather than confronting or working through them, because they can be difficult and potentially unpleasant. But put them off for too long and crises will develop. A wise woman once told me that God never gives me anything too big for me to handle. I need to keep reminding myself. That means as I tackle each difficult area, I grow and become more capable of managing the next.
Life in Bali is very different from where I grew up as a girl in New York City. We live in a traditional Hindu family compound, behind our yoga shop and restaurant in central Ubud. We run yoga, kirtan and meditation classes nearby at the Bali Spirit Yoga

Bascreen-shot-2016-12-05-at-5-26-30-pmrn, we attend family and community Hindu ceremonies, we bring up our daughter.
From my front door I can see people working in the restaurant kitchen, and those staff and our customers can see whether I am at home, awake, at work, or playing with Bella, from early morning till late at night. Every minute there is someone less than 10 feet away, always there are cocks crowing and the sound of life around us. We share even our doorstep with tourists from all over Indonesia and the world. In this bustling environment, we
manage our staff.
The Indonesian word for employee is “anak buah” or fruit child. I see sense in this, because an employer has responsibilities to his or her staff, in a similar way as a parent has to a child. We have responsibility for creating a safe environment, one where our staff (and Kafe guests, yoga students, whoever) feel welcome and important.

Throughout history, disagreements, unsatisfactory performance in the workplace, have often been met with violence. Anger, negative criticism, patronising language are all “violent” reactions. For me, it is harder to get this right with someone I know than a stranger. But I know I have a choice; do I react or respond? Deepak Chopra says violence and anger come from the ego trying to defend itself. If I find myself in conflict with a staff member, I try to stay in the moment without reacting. I try to go inward, thinking before I speak. Have we set up the right expectations for this situation? Does this person actually know what I want, or have I not been clear? Is my language calm?
As Martin Luther King might have asked me, “Am I part of the solution, or am I part of the problem” here? Have I kept my word? Where have I been at fault in relation to this matter? A moment for thinking it through, and then my response is my choice. I try to be practical and “in the moment”.
My attempt to do these things does not entitle me to feel that I am better than someone else. What is does, is help me build my business in a w
ay that is more satisfying. I feel more able to deal with challenging situations, because I focus on what I have influence over, not on things I can’t change. With neighbours, customers, business partners and my family, there is the same potential for misunderstanding, confusion and conflict. Or for joy and harmony.

So everywhere, offer the best, treat disagreements and the person attached to them with respect, share and be clear about your vision for success. Accept that it is okay for someone else to have a different perspective. After all, there’s no “right” answer. There is my path, the other person’s path, the conflict and potential accord between them, the various possibilities for working through them together. And you know, when I remember all this, my life doesn’t feel like I am juggling.
“Throughout history! disagree” ments! unsatisfactory perfor” mance in the workplace! have often been met with violence#
My staff need to know I appreciate their efforts and I care about their progress, their health and happiness, their problems and their successes. I tell them I value their ideas and their suggestions about change and improvements. I want to help them grow and flourish, even if that sometimes means they grow out of their position, or leave to follow their own dreams.

Meghan Pappenhei

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