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<xTITLE>The brain dancer: How about a little movement in your mediation? Just a little?</xTITLE>

The brain dancer: How about a little movement in your mediation? Just a little?

by Stephanie West Allen
December 2008

From Stephanie West Allen's blog on Neuroscience and conflict resolution.

Stephanie West Allen

IMG_5097MF I watched a wonderful video. It is of a scientist dancing some information about the brain. Be sure to take a look at Scientists explain their work through the medium of dance (BPS Research Digest blog). Beautiful. So much conveyed with no words.

I have posted before about embodied cognition and about the brain's language of images. Relying only on words when resolving a dispute leaves out so much potential wisdom and creativity. Although not in a conflict process, I was reminded of the power of body expression in a recent Brains on Purpose™ class.

The students in groups were reviewing seven points about the brain by drawing images. One group included a professional dancer; they chose to choreograph for her a dance presenting the seven points. After watching the dance, the class was silent. I think we were all surprised that so much could be communicated through that medium. From the Scientists explain . . . post that I linked to above: "the human body is an excellent medium for communicating science--perhaps not as data-rich as a peer-reviewed article, but far more exciting."

Am I suggesting that disputants dance? Perhaps, in a minority of arenas where it would not be too far outside the mold of conflict resolution. But, to us all, I am suggesting that we keep expanding our ideas and  boundaries of what can be included in sessions. The way most mediations and other conflict resolutions proceed today is neither brain- or mind-friendly. Sterile in so many ways. I say fertilize your processes.

What one new strategy can you incorporate? By shifting from today's norm, you will be on the cutting edge—but others soon will be following you. Given all the neuroscience research, it is odd that we still do so much that runs counter to what we now know about the best ways to encourage communication, compromise, and collaboration. I predict that, in just a couple of years, my offbeat suggestions will not seem eccentric. Want to bet?

Come with me as we enter the age of brain- and mind-based conflict resolution. Let's get moving.


Stephanie West Allen, JD, practiced law in California for several years, held offices in local bar associations, and wrote chapters for California Continuing Education of the Bar. While in CA, Stephanie completed several five-day mediation training programs with the Center for Mediation in Law, as well as a two-year intensive with Center co-founder Gary Friedman. She has been a mediator for over two and one-half decades.

She is the author of Triversity Fantasy — Seven Keys To Unlock Prejudice, Creating Your Own Funeral or Memorial Service: A Workbook and many articles on workplace and professional issues for such publications as Lawyer Hiring and Training Report, Colorado Nurse, The Complete Lawyer, National Law Journal, Of Counsel, Law Practice and Denver Business Journal.

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