A Mediator’s Reflection on Meditation

The pandemic has turned our world upside down. India lies crushed under the second wave of Covid-19 – with thousands losing their lives daily, while a billion others live in constant fear. To counter all the anxiety, loss and negativity around us, many people have revisited the age-old practice of meditation, hoping to restore some normalcy in their breathing, if not their lives. Each one of us wants to hold on to something to keep us sane, to have faith, to hope for better times to come – and meditation has made that happen.

Many people are self-learning, taking classes and even investing in personal coaches to train themselves in the ancient practice of meditation, in order to cope with the chaos of our times. I must confess, I am not as consistent with my meditation exercises, as much as I am with my Mediation practice. So, to understand as to why an increasing number of people are leaning towards meditation, I registered for a meditation programme – where I was left stranded in the digital queue as the session was houseful. 

Curious to know more about this trend, I registered for another session, and yes, it was totally worth it. The learning was amazing. Even for an ideally calm person, such as myself, this health crisis with no domestic help, no family member visiting, no celebrations of happy occasions, depending on technology for every need and with people around you falling ill, life can get exhausting. The programme has inspired me to meditate regularly, which I believe has enhanced my personality, helped me detach from the harrowing developments around me and respond with calmness instead of reacting. Meditation has helped me focus on important things in life rather than on complaining about what can’t be changed.

Experienced practitioners say meditation helps them stay driven and focused. Meditation  may not solve all of life’s problems, but it makes you more aware, and increases your ability to filter irrelevant distractions in life.  

Research  shows that meditation  increases the grey matter in the frontal areas of the brain called prefrontal cortex (part of neo-cortex), that controls executive functions, creativity, reasoning, problem-solving, logic,  and morality.  The finding  is,  this increase can lead to positive emotions, longer-lasting emotional stability and allow us to have better control over our thoughts and reactions. Meditation thus helps us to remain balanced and calm. 

There are some striking similarities between Mediation and meditation. In my mediation practice, spanning over a decade, I have sat down with parties high on emotions. Their impulsive nature, triggered by what’s being said by the other side, makes them react rather than respond to the situation. It’s their reptilian brain that is now activated, instinctively shutting down the neocortex – the ‘reasoning’ part of our brain. The channels for  productive communication are closed, and instead of brainstorming creative solutions, these parties are now at loggerheads.

Mediators use different communication skills to help disputing parties regulate their emotions and reactions. In deescalating a conflict, a mediator helps parties calm down, rethink and respond. A mediator is thus attempting to guide the parties to access the reasoning and the creative part of the brain, by inviting them to understand the counter perspective. A mediator helps parties be aware of their actual needs and interests and filters issues that are distractions. 

In what could be easily argued as a guided meditation, a mediator now assists parties in gaining a self-determined insight on how best to negotiate their interests. This is incredible, as until now, we would laugh off enquiries coming to the office, whether we offer “meditation services”. The pandemic has made me realise the similarity of both practices. What meditation does for general internal well-being of a person, mediation does the same for the external world of that person, both helping the individual live a peaceful life. 

In the pandemic times, businesses struggle to remain afloat due to terminated contracts, non- payment of  loans, halt in manufacturing due to non-availability of materials and workers –  all leading to litigations and economic losses. One way to recoup is to avoid adversarial procedures that consume the best part of our energy, time and money. Besides, the present situation does not warrant deciding who is right or wrong. People are longing for peace, unity, collaboration – this is evident in how people have come together as a community to bail each other out from the health crisis.  It is my firm belief that most people, deep inside, want to find a solution to their conflicts through collaborative, less-stressful means and to create peace and calm within as well as all around.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

May all beings experience total healing and optimal well-being.

May everyone, in the whole world, be happy.

                        author

Shantha Chellappa

Shantha Chellappa, Director- CAMP Arbitration & Mediation Practice Pvt. Ltd.: Practised law for about 35 years at Bangalore . Mediation practitioner since 2008. She has received training in mediation from ISDLS and JAMS and is an IMI certified mediator. She is a trainer for MCPC (Mediation and conciliation project committee-… MORE >

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