This article was written some time before I had studied process work* with Jungian psychologist, Arny Mindell and his cohort. From the 80’s to the present time, process work has developed a technology for working with individuals, couples, groups and communities in conflict. This paper is a brief introduction to the unified field in human relations. For a more extensive discussion, and for applications to situations involving conflict and diversity, please consult the books of Arnold Mindell, especially , and .



If I am in a conflict with you, I have drawn a circle around myself which does not include you, your position, feelings, thoughts or opinions. My intention is to maintain or win power at your expense. In everything is the seed of its apparent opposite; my need to do this betrays my real feeling of powerlessness. In a sense, it doesn’t matter what we are arguing about; the real issue is this feeling which is not being acknowledged or talked about and, therefore, controls my behavior.

A unified field, in the way I am using this terminology, is one in which all positions are welcome and needed, not necessarily where everyone looks, thinks or acts the same. To create a unified field, I need to recognize the feeling of separation and disturbance, admit it and meet you in the place where you have the same feeling. We then become allies working together toward a common solution that will enable each of us to have at least part of what we need and want. That movement from adversaries to allies is very exciting and touching when it occurs.

Unconscious archetypal struggles take place constantly in all relationships. In most human interaction, there exists the possibility for a unified field to develop in which you and I (or any two or more disparate entities, points of view or even nations) are committed to furthering each of our goals by exploring what gets invoked in us from below the level of our current awareness. To do this, we need to develop an objective witness, internal or otherwise, who is willing to look at what’s happening from many different angles, and who can shift perspective. We further need to be able to express what we discover as we make these shifts and allow the other to be merely a witness to this process, not an object we are attempting to control. This, in turn, evokes a similar process from the other--and we are on our way to a unified field.

In this complex and rapid-change 21st century, an important objective of human interaction, whether personal, work or community, is to value learning, growing, healing and solving problems. I deally, I would be as interested in your process and the achievement of your goals as I am in achieving my own results. Making a commitment to this shared process creates the possibility of a unified field. If one player in the relationship refuses to make this commitment, a stalemate, war or dissolution of the relationship often ensues.

When we pair, or come together in groups, we still continue to develop as individuals. At the time of our meeting, there are ways that each of us has not yet developed. As these new aspects come out in one, they invoke varied responses from the other. If the other becomes rigid and cannot tolerate expansion, the relationship breaks or dies. If this process of expansion is a source of nourishment and excitement for each, the relationship usually flourishes.

What occurs in these situations is largely dependent on the perspective of the participants.

A field of conflict is based on this view of reality:

-You do things I don’t like and refuse to tolerate.
-I have bad feelings which were caused by you.
-I am the potential victim of your words and actions.
-I need something you have.
-I must protect what I have so you don’t get it.
-I can't trust you and don't feel safe around you.
-For this to work, you must change.
-I judge you and feel judged by you.
-There is no other viewpoint but mine.
-Our differences are insurmountable.

A unified field has quite a different perspective:

-You and I are in a constant state of flux.
-I see myself in all my potential when I interact with you.
-We create a field in which we are different manifestations
of the same organism and part of the larger whole.
-The composition of our bodies, emotions and thought
mechanisms is essentially the same.
-We all experience birth, life, change, death.
-Inside of everything is the seed of its apparent opposite.
-Most of us have the ability to reason, empathize, reflect,
experiment, understand and feel.
-The field in which we operate is fluid and subject to change.

If we agree that we want to create a unified field, one in which we can co-exist with our differences and welcome minority voices as the growing edge of any group,how do we proceed?

-We begin by recognizing the assembled persons as a system in which each individual has played a role to create exactly what exists now and is presenting us with exactly the problems we need to solve.
-We work on understanding just what each role is and how it affects the system.
-We have each person in the conflict deliberately play their role with detail and affect for further comprehension and insight about its effect and to clarify the responses of the others in the field.
-We explore the feelings and belief systems that led to each role.
-We have people switch roles and try out others existing in the field.
-The next step might be learning what is NOT being done which is possible and which might yield different results or change the whole system even if only one person changed his behavior. Each person comes into contact with his power and ability to change his behavior and, therefore, the situation. Quite a bit of fear might come up about not knowing what the results of such a change would be; however, in a supportive and encouraging atmosphere, small experiments can be tried where all involved can openly discuss their responses to the changed behavior, whether it moves them closer to their goals of getting along and enhancing functioning and whether it has the effect of unifying the field.

The facilitator of a group process moving toward a unified field has an interest in the well-being of the entire group. Leadership does not belong to any one person but can be experienced by any person in the group as well as can the role of follower. The facilitator needs to be able to follow her own process, the group process and the atmosphere and its larger context in the world. (ie If an issue of racism comes up, it does not belong to this group alone but is part of a larger issue being played out in the world.)
The facilitator can introduce the concept of the unified field, the possibility of persons in conflict becoming allies in their commitment to achieving certain goals and monitoring what is and is not working.
The facilitator may need to teach and model certain skills such as centering, collaborating, active listening, letting go, expressing feelings, thoughts, opinions and hunches as separate communication skills.
She encourages those involved to stay with the process even when it seems hopeless, scary, or fiery. She creates experiments to try in pairs or small groups to illustrate the steps in the process of moving from a dialectical relationship to a system of thinking and being which embraces all points of view and aspects of diversity, a unified field.

Author's Bio: 

Niela Miller is the founder/director of PeopleSystems Potential, a consulting, coaching and counseling business that combines arts processes, humanistic psychology and education, and organization development.