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Lions Roar : March 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2009 42 act as a broker to bring about a compromise solution, which is generally the method used in mediation. One of Gary and Jack’s key concepts is the notion that no conflict is about what it seems to be about. Impasses over money or property are really about deeper concerns that usually do not surface. any solution that does not address these deeper concerns won’t really hold. for years they have taught a method of dialogue that will help mediators guide parties to a discovery of what lurks beneath the surface of conflict, and they have been successful. But the intro- duction of ongoing mindfulness practice has taken the work to a new level. When mediators learn to see more deeply into their own motivations and prejudices with a sense of acceptance and curiosity, rather than with judgment, they are able to make use of their own emotions—and to come to understand others bet- ter. the conventional wisdom in mediation work is that the me- diator must keep his or her emotions out of the equation and be a neutral, dispassionate observer. But anyone who has practiced mindfulness knows that there’s no way to keep your emotions out of anything, and that imagining you are doing so only means you are prey to your emotions rather than guided by them with some wisdom. I remember the aha moment in one of our train- ing sessions, when a mediator realized that she didn’t have to pretend she wasn’t angry at one of the parties—that mindfulness practice had given her the capacity to be aware of her anger with- out expressing it inappropriately, so that she could learn from it and make use of it to help the parties find a solution. I have also for some years worked with lawyers under the auspices of contemplative mind in society, a non-profit with a mission well described by its name. here the issue is, “how can mindfulness practice help to humanize what has become a very stressful and difficult profession?” contemplative mind’s Law project sponsors a group of lawyers who meet with me regularly to meditate and engage in dialogue and experimentation about this. each year we offer national mindfulness retreats for lawyers on both coasts to share our explorations with others. Over a number of years these lawyers have revolutionized the way they view and carry out their work, moving from what some of them have called “the gladiator” model of zealous advocacy, to one in which they see themselves as wise counsel and ally to their clients, trying to bring healing to very difficult human situ- ations, rather than simply to win cases. the lawyers have often noted that sometimes winning the case with maximum aggres- sion does not actually serve the needs of the client. probably the clearest way to understand mindfulness work with lawyers, mediators, and end-of-life-care professionals is as training in emotional intelligence. eI is a concept popularized