Would the following be helpful in the resolution of conflict? Increased ability to
- Prioritize and manage tasks and goals
- Focus on specific information
- Stay alert to the environment.
Yes, these abilities can be assets in conflict resolution, whether you are a party to the conflict or a professional assisting in the parties' resolution. Once again, we hear of a way to increase these helpful abilities.
In another flurry of articles just appearing in publications, the role of meditation in improved attention (of which the three abilities above are subcomponents) is being described. Researchers at University of Pennsylvania looked at changes in the way the brain works resulting from meditation. From the Medical News Today article "Improved Attention With Mindfulness Training Demonstrated By Penn Researchers" . . .
Researchers [Amishi Jha and Michael Baime] found that even for those new to the practice, meditation enhanced performance and the ability to focus attention. Performance-based measures of cognitive function demonstrated improvements in a matter of weeks. The study, to be published in the journal Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, suggests a new, non-medical means for improving focus and cognitive ability among disparate populations and has implications for workplace performance and learning.
The benefits of meditation and mindfulness are not news. And many
scientists are researching in this arena. In a two-year-old article "Science Explores Meditation's Effect on the Brain," one of the reasons for the mindfulness research is noted.
In 1998, Dr. James Austin, a neurologist, wrote the book Zen and the Brain: Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness. Several mindfulness researchers cite his book as a reason they became interested in the field. In it, Austin examines consciousness by intertwining his personal experiences with Zen meditation with explanations backed up by hard science. When he describes how meditation can "sculpt" the brain, he means it literally and figuratively.
Although this area of research is not new, each study confirming the age-old wisdom helps to make the practices of meditation and mindfulness considered by people in increased numbers. Even skeptics are able to see the proof; no one needs to take the benefits on faith.
I have always smiled at the irony of "mediation" and "meditation" being only one letter apart. But the people who can increase their effectiveness through meditation are not just mediators, are they? We'd enjoy hearing from you about how meditation improves your conflict resolution skills of any kind.
Note (added November 4, 2007, 8:16 PM Mountain): An article from the Los Angeles Times about physicians using meditation with their patients: "Doctor's orders: Cross your legs and say 'Om'." Hat tip to SharpBrains.
Note (added November 11, 2007, 2:01 PM Mountain): Another article on meditation research and benefits: "What the Beatles Gave Science."
Note (added November 26, 2007, 4:27 PM): Click for another study on the effects of meditation: "Short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation." (PDF)
Note (added March 21, 2008, 3:45 PM Mountain): Click to go to a page where you can watch a program on Mindfulness in the Law & ADR. Click to read "Buddhism and the art of negotiation," an article about a conference held at Harvard Law school. Hat tip for the article to Amanda Bucklow at The Mediation Times. Thanks to Diane Levin at Mediation Channel for her post in which I learned about The Mediation Times.
Note (added April 24, 2008, 1:08 PM Mountain): Article: "Attention regulation and monitoring in
meditation." (pdf) Abstract:
Meditation can be conceptualized as a family of complex emotional and attentional regulatory training regimes developed for various ends, including the cultivation of well-being and emotional balance. Among these various practices, there are two styles that are commonly studied. One style, focused attention meditation, entails the voluntary focusing of attention on a chosen object. The other style, open monitoring meditation, involves nonreactive monitoring of the content of experience from moment to moment. The potential regulatory functions of these practices on attention and emotion processes could have a long-term impact on the brain and behavior.
Note (added May 14, 2008, 9:09 AM Mountain): An article from the Vermont Bar Journal by J. Patton Hyman: "The Mindful Lawyer: Mindfulness Meditation and Law Practice" (pdf).