The Mindful Mediator

After a very long three days working with His Holiness the Dalai Lama here in New York City, it was great to see the term ‘mindfulness’ popping up in the ADR/mediation blogging community.

I have been a practitioner of mindfulness for over a dozen years and have been fortunate to engage with great individuals such as the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat (coined the term Engaged Buddhism) and John KabatZinn.

Nancy and Debra recently blogged about mindfulness and its seven components:
Beginner’s Mind
Letting Go

read it all [here]

Tammy refers to Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (we all have read this, right?) and ends with the following question:

If you were to take off your expert’s hat (I know, there’s self-comfort in your expertise), what would you do to adopt a Beginner’s Mind? In what ways could you unbundle your skills to serve clients in new ways?
Read more [here]

Stefanie has blogged heaps on the topic of mindfulness and you can check [here] if you do not believe me.

Finally, there’s not much left to the imagination wondering if the following blog has anything to do with mindfulness and mediation- Conflict Zen.

So what does mindfulness even mean? I define it as simply being alive in the present moment- Not overly worry about the future as well as not letting your thoughts be consumed with past actions.

As a mediator, in order to be successful, I think it is imperative for one to be mindful. No, I am not saying you have to be Buddhist as mindfulness is not limited to Buddhism. It is something (like other terms such as love and compassion) which I believe transcends religion.

How do I promote mindfulness in the mediation with the parties? I ask them to try and not interrupt the other party (I mention that I promise everyone gets an opportunity to speak). Not only do I say that, but I then ask them to listen to what they other person has to to say, not to just sit there waiting for your chance to talk.

Where else does mindfulness come into play during mediation? How about breathing and relaxing? You can say you are ‘alive in the present moment’ but instead you are tense because you just received a double parking summons or worrying about getting home in time to make dinner which might not allow you to be at your mediating best.

When I explain the process of mindfully breathing to police officers I relate it to when we first received our firearms. At our initial training, and at each subsequent qualification, working the in and out breath together with pressing the trigger are emphasised continuously. If breath control is so important when using a firearm, wouldn’t one think it is also imperative to use it when communicating- something that is used many times a day?

As always, I do not want to go too in depth. If I have sparked some interest, let me know and at the same time, check out some of the above links for more information at the other blogs.



Jeff Thompson

Jeff Thompson, Ph.D., is a professor at Lipscomb University, researcher, mediator, and trainer. He is also involved in crisis and hostage negotiation as well as a law enforcement detective. His research includes law enforcement crisis and hostage negotiation in terrorist incidents. He received his doctorate from Griffith University Law School… MORE >

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