I've been pondering the depth of what I consider the absolute most important ingredient in mediation. I guess it's marketing in a sense, I think it makes alot of the magic, so we're kicking off 2010 Marketing Minute with it. But let's start at the start.
Mediators have three thing they must be as mediators:
Be Of Service
But lately the Be Present aspect of this recipe has been on my mind. I just read a great book by Eckhart Tolle. He is a very spritual guy and has much to say about being Present. As I read it, I saw that there is quite a bit of his work that may be applied to mediation.
To be present on the most basic level is to be awake. Most simply, we are conscious. We are in the room. We know when to shut up and listen.
But what if, and this is pure speculation, but what if what drives some people into conflict and keeps the there has more to do with their coveting this conflict? Maybe there are situations where the conflict becomes bigger because the mind, the ego, or something else within the person attaches great significance to it--it becomes an identity--victim, perpetrator, etc. What if the suffering that comes from the conflict makes it hard for the person to cast it off? What if the mind actually craves the conflict and attracts it?
OK, I know some of you are thinking that I am off my rocker...why would someone WANT to hold onto conflict let alone draw it to themselves? What does a person crave the fight? What makes someone become so wrapped up in the problem that they get something they desire from being stuck in it?
The Theory: The vicissitudes of life coupled with the mind's ability to attach and fixate brings about a heaviness that can keep a person from a more ethereal perspective about life and their place in the Universe. The conflict offers an opportunity to learn a lesson, to elevate, or to bring about some positive change for the person or for someone else. It is there for this reason, and without learning the lesson at hand, a similar conflict will present over again in the future so present the same opporunity to learn the same lesson.
Can one person actually elevate another person into a place where they actually see the conflict from a more Present place? Can the idea of Being Present mean that you just being there, and matching your breathing to the other person's breathing, your heartrate matches their heartrate, can actually change the viewpoint of another? Can another person perceive this different perspective unconsciously and get "infected" with it? Or is it more than that?
An Experiment: Try this the next time you're in a commuting situation on LA freeways or traffic. When someone needs to squeeze in front of you, don't cuss at them or speed up. Let them in. Now, pay attention to what happens in the next minute or two. Conversely, if you are on the road and don't let someone squeeze in or you cuss at them (my favorite thing to do), pay attention to what happens in the next minute or two. Focus on your intention when this happens. have an awareness of the outcome. See if you notice anything. If you do, let me know.
Certainly, words matter. Lawyers are trained to use them to persuade, to ridicule, to argue. And words are an important tool for the mediator.
But what I am talking about is not words. It is Presence. Maybe some people view it as gravitas, being distinguished, authoritative or kind or charming in appearance and manner. They could be right. However, I suggest that it just might be possible that you, as a human being, can bring Presence into the room with you. It comes from a place within you and without you at the same time. It connects everyone and everything. And ego, attachment, materialism and sophistry cloud it. It is not from a place of ego that I postulate this. Rather, the opposite. It's in everyone, and everyone can awaken to it.
Ironic, I know, that most conflict we deal with are about money or emotional issues, yet the way out is not through money, pride, or being right.
There are some people who have used the notion of apology and reconciliation to achieve true enlightenment and a lasting peace or perspective change. I have heard of these things. That is remarkable. The stuff of the Buddha, of Ghandi. All religions aspire to such things.
But in the commercial world, as a mediator, my limited wish is to bring Presence into the room for just long enough to help elevate the parties into a place where they can see the wisdom in resolution. Maybe they can actually let go and live.
I felt that happen this week in a contentious case involving the division of proceeds following a tragic death due to a medical misadventure. There were many heirs, and finite dollars. There were prior lawsuits and family rifts.
But when everyone got into the room and the tone was set, something remarkable happened. The whole room elevated and after a while each heir began advocating for the other heirs! There were some specific things that happened that are more techinque based, but the point is that things became relatively easy for me after that (legal wrangling notwithstanding), and hopefully the family can let go and move on with being a loving, caring family. Perhaps...
Anyway, the point of this long post is to ask each of you if you perceive this Presence within you, if you are aware of it in life or as a mediator, or would like to develop it further? If so, I do recommend taking a look at Eckhart Tolle's work. It's well worth it. No matter what, always Be Present in mediation.