If you believe as I do that a mindful mediator is a more effective mediator—both because of his or her adept ability to utilize conflict resolution skills but more importantly because of the direct effect he or she has on the parties' affect (i.e., mood)—then I have a suggested program for you below.
No surprise to any of you who read my blogs: I think the reflectiveness, the mindfulness, of the mediator is significant, sometimes paramount, in the resolving of disputes. That mindfulness state is what in my opinion moves a dispute professional from adequate to excellent, to one who serves clients in a manner that is outstanding.
Because I think both play and self-knowledge can enhance our mindfulness, I am recommending a workshop to you. It's being taught September 18-21, by Doctors Bonnie Badenoch and Theresa Kestly in the artist and farmland community of Corrales, New Mexico, near the Rio Grande River. Click for all the details and to register. I have taken two seminars from Bonnie in the past, read two of her books which I recommend frequently, and believe she is gifted at working with clients. Even though I have not yet taken a class from Theresa, I know much about her approach and philosophy because I have read and appreciated several chapters of her forthcoming book The Interpersonal Neurobiology of Play. Both she and Bonnie are well-grounded in the science that underlies what they practice and teach.
So if you want to enhance your ability to resolve disputes while having fun in a beautiful setting learning from two mindful experts, sign up here.
Note: To learn more benefits of play, go to some of my past posts: here, here, and here.
Click to watch a video Path of Freedom about a meditation project in a Rhode Island men's prison. From YouTube:
In the harsh environment of a Rhode Island men's prison, a group of fifty inmates are transforming their lives through the practice of meditation. Path of Freedom follows former inmate Fleet Maull as he visits prison to share his strategies for surviving on the inside. The film offers a rare glimpse into the inner lives of men reaching for forgiveness, inner peace and freedom behind bars.
Click to watch a video of Dr. Emiliana Simon-Thomas giving a short overview (around 20 minutes) of the biology of mindfulness and compassion. I recommend it; she's entertaining, in addition to being knowledgeable.
If you are acting like a zombie, you are probably acting mindlessly. Although they can be scarily entertaining, zombies are apt metaphors for mindlessness, a not so entertaining but sometimes scary state.
It’s not their fault, don’t blame them, they don’t even know they are zombies, they think they are awake, but they are not really, they are sleeping. They are so possessed by their minds that they think the dream is real, they think those voices in their heads are who they are and they have forgotten how to live. They experience everything through words and concepts and have forgotten that the world is a sensory delight.
Poor lost souls, they think the past and the future are real and they spend their lives there. Their minds drag them back and they propel them forward, they cannot see the glory of this moment. They cannot see it because they are not here. The present moment, the only place where life really exists, is cast aside as irrelevant, they miss the miracle of existence and are barely alive at all.
Fortunately there is an antidote for this dismal existence.
But there is hope for some, because most Zombies are not yet completely dead, they still have a chance at life, in fact some of them are even starting to wake up. Right now quite a few Zombies
The same organization Dying Matters has announced a new creative writing competition. From the Web page:
Life is shockingly unpredictable and too often ends before we’ve told our nearest and dearest how much we love them, registered a will to avoid chaos after we’ve gone, visited a long-neglected relative or got in touch with someone we know we treated badly. Omissions like these gnaw at us now and are likely to be bitterly regretted when we face the final curtain.
So with that in mind, our new writing competition, While There’s Still Time, is aimed at generating shared experiences that will help more people set about putting things right, planning their future and getting the best from the rest of their life. Reading about other people’s setbacks, sadness and happiness helps us cope with our own ups and downs, and writing about experiences too painful to talk about can in itself generate a wonderful sense relief and release.
By talking more openly about end of life issues and taking actions such as writing a will, recording our funeral wishes, registering as an organ donor, planning our future care and sharing what we would want with our loved ones we can help to ensure that we all get the chance to live well until we die.
You only die once, so don’t leave it too late to make your wishes known or to provide support to those who need it.
In this interview (Caucus on Mediation) of long-time mediator Gary Friedman, he answers that question and several others. And in the interview he mentions his forthcoming book Inside Out which will go into the topics of this interview and many more in great depth. I'm looking forward to reading it!
Click on over to the interview to see what Friedman says about how a mediator can prepare to be an effective conflict professional.
The most important thing as a mediator is to understand yourself and to be able to access what’s happening inside you when you’re in the presence of people who are in conflict, and to be able to use that to draw the pathway for the others. What happens, as mediators, is that we often sit together with people and we say to ourselves “Oh, that person is right, that person is wrong, we like that person, we don’t like that person”, and then we say “On, no, I’m neutral”. I pay attention to the feelings that I have inside. The central quality for the mediator is to be able to take the internal reactions we have to people and to be able to use them to understand what they are about, understand ourselves – this is the last part of the “understanding” in our model of mediation – and to be able to turn that in a way where we find ourselves closer to the people we don’t like. Usually, when we have a bad feeling, we don’t like someone, we are angry with someone or we’re upset by him or her, then we lose patience and want to push them away. They feel it. We can’t pretend it’s not there. But we can work with that feeling to understand what it was that generated the negative reaction when we met that person. It’s turning anger and bad feelings into curiosity. We can take the differences we have with other people, which
When people say, “This is the way to do it,” that’s not true. There are always many ways, and the way you choose should depend on the current context. You can’t solve today’s problems with yesterday’s solutions. So when someone says, “Learn this so it’s second nature,” let a bell go off in your head, because that means mindlessness. The rules you were given were the rules that worked for the person who created them, and the more different you are from that person, the worse they’re going to work for you. When you’re mindful, rules, routines, and goals guide you; they don’t govern you.
To improve healthcare workers' job satisfaction and patient care, several physicians and aligned professionals are learning about and using narrative practices. For example, take a look at this article about two people in North Carolina who are teaching courses in Narrative Medicine. From "Stories heal at narrative medicine workshop" (Mountain Xpress):
“Not all patients are storytellers, but every patient has a story to tell,” says Dr. [Claire] Hicks, who believes that narrative medicine helps train us to listen, to empathize and to heal. During the workshop, Dr. Hicks shared insights from a physician’s perspective in her work with HIV patients in hospice and how writing enriches her capacity as caregiver. . . .
. . .
The importance of story is the driving force behind narrative medicine. “Ways to read story are ways to read life,” says [Professor Laura] Hope-Gill.
I have been convinced of the value of narrative practices for a long time, particularly as they increase the ability to be reflective. Therefore, I was excited when I read a message from Professor Anne Villella on a legal education listserv in response to my asking her what she meant by "narrative practices." (One of the courses she offers at Lewis and Clark Law School is on narrative practices). Here is what she wrote (posted with permission):
The idea of narrative practices that I mentioned in my post include many of those found in Narrative Medicine, which you mention. I have attended a 4-day Narrative Medicine workshop and read much of the scholarship on Narrative Medicine. Its impact on those in the healthcare field have been remarkable in terms of developing professional identity, compassion, a sense of affiliation, and, ultimately, patient care.
I believe similar practices can have similar results in the practice of law and representation of clients. And, I know that there are others out there who have incorporated narrative practices into their courses.(I would love to hear from others who have done this!)
Besides Narrative Medicine, there are other resources out there about narrative practices. The work of Gillie Bolton comes to mind--she facilitates workshops and has written extensively on
A decade ago, I dined at an ICF event with an experienced Executive Coach who told me, point-blank, “I don’t need research. I know what works, and I don’t need to know the data.” I don’t hear that from coaches anymore. I don’t hear people saying that research is irrelevant. As the profession matures, we are seeing an increase in the number of experienced coaches who recognize the need to understand the science behind coaching.
The Institute of Human Development & The Institute of Cognitive & Brain Sciences at UC Berkeley, The Philosophy + Literature Initiative at Stanford, and the College of Arts & Sciences at Ohio State University presents:
The Science of Story and Imagination
Perspectives from Cognitive Science, Neuroscience, and the Humanities
This symposium will bring together leading scholars in philosophy, literature, cognitive science, and neuroscience to explore the following questions: What is the role of imagination in human cognition? Why do we create stories? How does the ability to produce and understand stories develop in childhood? Why are we attracted to some stories and not others? How do stories draw on and affect our causal, counter-factual, and probabilistic learning mechanisms? How do they intersect with our capacities for filling gaps, for retaining and integrating information, and for entering the minds of others?
This event is free and open to the public.
- All symposium events held in Levinthal Hall, Stanford Humanities Center -
Saturday, March 1st
Frederick Aldama - English, Ohio State Alison Gopnik - Psychology, UC Berkeley Joshua Landy - French, Stanford University
As I blogged about recently, well-chosen movies and movie clips can be used to start conversations on topics that may be difficult to broach, including relationship challenges and death-and-dying-related matters. Short readings can serve the same purpose.
Excerpts from the forthcoming book Final Chapters, reminded of the valuable function of appropriate readings for facilitating necessary but sometimes anxiety-producing conversations, those talks that can be terrifying, at least uncomfortable, easily deferred. Click through and read "Enhancing Dementia Recipe" (the middle piece); perhaps, as I was, you will be moved. Just a few words and yet a strong impact.
Short, well-written, even jarring, readings can motivate you to sit down and have a talk about the future, whether it be about your marriage, divorce, child-raising, or death. Readings can provoke talks with your family or with your clients. Read anything good lately?