Mediation and Healing

Mediation is a healing path: it moves parties to reconcile their differences in an atmosphere that, ideally, improves their connectedness, bridges their separate objectives, and integrates rather than fragmenting through adversarial conduct. The parallels between mediation and energy work (also known by various names such as spiritual healing; energy healing; biofield healing) are beyond subtle: mediation aims to produce a “wise agreement” between the parties, according to Roger Fisher and Bill Ury in their classic book, Getting to Yes; similarly, energy work aims to produce a wise agreement within the individual, reconciling fragmented aspects of the self and facilitating a return to wholeness. Mediation builds community, while energy healing, when practiced responsibly, arguably builds communion with one’s self and others.

Aside from these parallels, energy work may be used in mediation—or any negotiation—in a variety of ways. Whether one draws on techniques from Therapeutic Touch, Healing Touch, Polarity Therapy, the Barbara Brennan Healing Science methods that I learned, or even theories from acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine and/or the martial arts, a key to energy work is setting one’s intention. In the latter traditions, intentionality often is said to be rooted in the hara, a physical and energetic point in which one concentrates attention, awareness, focus, breath. By clarifying and then aligning intentionality in the hara, one can hope to produce a better result.

Thus, prior to entering into a negotiation and during the process, whatever emotions are swirling, one can fuel the exchange, through remembrance and the breath, to continually reset intention. For example, if the intention is to have a healing between the parties—a mutual understanding that repairs the cords between them and enhances relationship—hold that through the meeting. If the intention is to come up with creative, win-win solutions during brainstorming, holding that intention similarly should assist the process.

Of course, ethically (and spiritually), one should hold intentions that are sound, that produce satisfactory results for all sides; holding the intention to “defeat” the other in a win-lose, one-up/one-down dynamic facilitates neither wise agreement nor a better outcome. Similarly, holding a negative intention for the “adversary” as a means to wrestle advantage is neither wise nor advisable. On the other hand, understanding the interconnectedness of everyone in the room—including the mediators as well as the negotiators—can help set an intention that benefits everyone, and infuses the process with positive charge. There is much to be set about the application of techniques from energy to the world of mediation; understanding and wisely using intentionality is a good start.


Michael Cohen

Michael H. Cohen, JD  Education: B.A., Columbia University, New York, 1983. J.D., Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California, Berkeley, 1986. M.B.A., Haas School of Management, University of California, Berkeley, 1988. M.F.A., Iowa Writers' Workshop, University of Iowa, 1990. Member of the Bar: California (1999), Massachusetts (1988), New York… MORE >

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