Mindful Mediation

Last weekend approximately 250 mediators, arbitrators, lawyers and conflict resolution professionals gathered at the 16th Annual Northwest Dispute Resolution Conference in Seattle, Washington. This conference is an outstanding collaboration between The Washington Law School Foundation, the ADR Section of Washington State Bar Association, Washington Mediation Association , the ADR Section of the King County Bar Association and Resolution Washington.

So how was it? Exceptional as always! Mingling with colleagues and friends, catching up on new happenings in the ADR community is always inspiring, but what I noticed most this year was how many of the workshops focused on…or at least brought up “mindfulness”. The keynote speaker, Leonard Riskin, ADR pioneer, has been advancing meditation and contemplative practice to improve service to client and increase professional satisfaction since the late 80’s. Followed by eminent Kenneth Cloke, of Center for Dispute Resolution, Santa Monica, co-founder of Mediators Beyond Borders and author of numerous books and articles. I was delighted for the opportunity to reconnect with Ken; I had the pleasure of taking a training from Ken a couple of years ago that gave me an even deeper appreciation for the mediation work that I do. Ken spoke about the language of conflict; as always with Ken the value of a meditative style and staying mindful were woven throughout his talk.

Stephanie West Allen, wise and delightful, known in the ADR community for developing a ground-breaking mediation model that utilizes neuroscience, spoke on shifting from reactive mind to responsive mind which requires the practitioner to take concrete steps in mindfulness to implement. Stephanie has an incredible blog. I was grateful for the opportunity to share dinner with Stepahnie and Leonard along with a few colleagues...the time to connect was invaluable and enlightening!

Mindfulness and mediation go hand-in-hand, so I could not resist finishing the day by participating in Doug Nathan’s Mindful Mediation: Managing the Stress in the Room for Improved Results. Doug is a Seattle based skilled facilitator, trainer and mediator who I have had the opportunity to meet through other colleagues, so I was very interested in what he had to say…and he said a lot! He connected mindfulness and mediation in a nutshell……citing John-Kabat-Zinn's book Full Catastrophe Living, described 7 components of mindfulness:

  • Non-judging

  • Patience

  • Beginner’s Mind

  • Trust

  • Non-striving

  • Acceptance

  • Letting Go

Which, not surprising, are all essential to a mediator mind as well as a meditative mind!