Find Mediators Near You:

What’s The Quickest Route From Reactive Brain To Reflective Mind (And A New Kind Of Dispute)? Climb A Tree

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

As I have discussed before, disputes sometimes occur between minds, sometimes between brains, and sometimes we will see what can be called a "conflict combo." Possibilities:

  • people interacting with their reactive brains
  • people interacting with their reflective minds, and
  • reactive brains interacting with reflective minds.

Each results in a different quality of dispute and method of resolution.


A diagram of the possibilities is to the left. (Click on it to make it big enough to read.) People may move back and forth between reactive and reflective during a conflict, of course.

A self-aware person is using his or her reflective mind. This weekend, my friend John Warnick kindly alerted me to a great graphic: a tree of practices that can lead one to self-awareness. This tree is for the spiritual, the religious, and the secular:

[T]he roots symbolize the two intentions that are the foundation of all contemplative practices: cultivating awareness and developing a stronger connection to God, the divine, or inner wisdom. The roots of the tree encompass and transcend differences in the religious traditions from which many of the practices originated, and allow room for the inclusion of new practices that are being created in secular contexts.

Take a look at all the included practices. In how many do you participate? As I often say, self-awareness is not cultivated by meditation alone. Anyone who wants increased self-awareness can find a practice that fits. Now go climb that tree.


Managing Editor In business since 1996, is the world’s leading mediation and dispute resolution website with over 7 million annual site visitors. serves as a bridge between professionals offering dispute resolution services and individuals and businesses needing those services. was awarded the 2010 American Bar Association Institutional Problem Solver of… MORE >

Featured Mediators

View all

Read these next


Arbitration & Mediation In The Arab World: A Growing Phenomenon

Originally by Nasser & Vicky, printed here on ArabComment.   Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms in the Arab world have been growing hand in hand with the resurgence of various...

By Nasser Ali Khasawneh, Vicky Sfeir

Marx Unity Of Theory/Practice And Mediation

The motivation of this article is first to highlight Marx preoccupation for seeking the unity of theory and practice. The second is to reframe the Marxist unity in the context...

By Luis Miguel Diaz

ODR in Family Law: Developments in Texas – and the Rest of the World

This program took place Thursday, November 9, 2023, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Central (online) Co-sponsored by Texas A&M University School of Law’s Dispute Resolution Program,, and the Association...

By Nancy Welsh, Colin Rule, Richard Shannon, Darren Gingras, Anita Savage, Laura Kistemaker, Tawanna Lynn Cesare