Attention Choreography: Revisiting The Key Role Of Attention In Conflict Resolution (And Just About Everything Else You Do)

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

Finger_indication I sometimes say the role of the mediator is attention choreographer or attention conductor. Where people are putting their attention is going to powerfully influence the conflict, and any resolution. Attention is key.

To help with attending to attention, I point out to you excerpts from two different books. The first is from the book Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life. From the excerpt:

If you could look backward at your years thus far, you’d see that your life—what you’ve confidently called “reality”—has been fashioned from what you’ve paid attention to. You’d also be struck by the fact that if you had paid attention to other things, your reality and your life would be very different.

Attention has created the experience and the self stored in your memory; looking ahead, what you focus on will create the life and person yet to be. Psychology has mostly examined our pasts to explain and improve our lives. If you think in terms of the present and future instead, you might encounter an intuition lurking in your mind, as it was in mine: If you could just stay focused on the right things, your life would stop feeling like a reaction to stuff that happens to you and become something that you create—not a series of accidents, but a work of art.

Click to read the rest of the excerpt (Utne Reader).

The second excerpt is from the book Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age. From the excerpt:

Can attention be trained? To [Alan] Wallace, who has

meditated 10,000 hours in solitary retreats over 35 years, the answer is already in. But he believes that science can help unpack the intricacies of meditative attention, just as meditation is the perfect canvas for scientifically understanding how attention can be shaped. He and [Clifford] Saron emphasized that they aren’t studying Buddhism but rather the attentional training within the tradition. “It’s fundamentally a nondenominational pursuit,” Saron quipped.

… Dozens of neuroscientists…gathered for an annual meeting organized by the Mind and Life Institute, a Colorado nonprofit that supports the study of meditation.

Just two decades ago, no career-minded scientist would have pursued this work. Now, gleanings from contemplative brains routinely make headlines. Hospitals offer mindfulness-based stress reduction programs. Neuroscientists are studying nascent efforts to bring meditation into classrooms. Attention, however, is a new focus in this budding subfield of brain science, and so the meeting hall was packed as neuroscientist Amishi Jha took the stage to relate her landmark findings.

Click to read the rest of the excerpt (Utne Reader).

Some past posts on the importance of attention:


Stephanie West Allen

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… MORE >

Featured Mediators

View all

Read these next


Few Words to the Newcomers

Kluwer Mediation BlogIn mediation training and experience are key words that path the way to success. Good mediators must learn to be conscious of their own emotions and to be...

By Andrea Maia

Mediation Skills and Techniques by Laurence Boulle: A perfect(ing) marriage (Book Review)

This article was first published in (2001) 4(2) The ADR Bulletin, and subsequently in Bond Dispute Resolution News, Volume 11, January 2002I am probably not alone as an ADR practitioner...

By David Bryson

Teaching Online Dispute Resolution: Results from a Survey of Students

Introduction As a topic of conversation, and as an approach to the practice of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), online dispute resolution (ODR) has gone from being a novelty in the...

By Daniel Rainey

Find a Mediator