Articles published in 2014

MediAtion & MediTation

How to pay attention non-judgmentally

Despite the word Mediation being only one letter different from the word meditation you might not think that they have much in common. The reality is that for the practitioner there are many similarities.

Mindfulness Meditation has been described as:

‘Purposefully paying attention in the moment in a non-judgmental way to what is going on in your body, mind and in the world around you.’

This is how to develop mindfulness but it is also describes some of the key elements needed for effective mediation.

Purposefully paying attention

Paying attention is the starting point for a mediator but this is different from ‘paying attention’ to a teacher- perhaps hearing what is being said but day dreaming and thinking of other things. This is about being present with the person or persons in front of you.

Listening to what is being said but also to what is not being said – seeing, sensing, feeling, being fully involved.

Paying attention non-judgmentally

As a mediator you strive to pay attention non-judgmentally. This is easier said than done. The way to act non-judgmentally is to recognise and acknowledge your own judgments.

Notice what and when you are judging. We all judge all the time, we just need to be clear what those judgments are so that they don’t unconsciously impact our approach or prevent us from hearing what is really being said.

What is going on in your body?

Our bodies are often more sensitive than our minds, tightening muscles, holding breath, changes in temperature, discomfort and ease are all giving us valuable messages if we are available to hear them.

What is going on in your mind?

Listening effectively begins with listening to yourself, recognising the difference between your own inner commentary and the words you are hearing. Recognise your own judgments, distractions and agendas but accept and let go of them. Be as non-judgmental as you are striving to be towards others.

What is going on in the world around you?

In mediation your focus is primarily on another person or people.
What is happening for them? What are their comfort or discomfort levels? How are they feeling and responding to the situation they find themselves in? What are they at ease with, what is difficult for them?

A Mediator responds

For the meditator paying attention non-judgmentally in the moment, is the whole focus. The mediator also needs to respond to and interact with the participants in the mediation.

The more the mediator can practise paying attention non-judgmentally in every day life the easier it will be to do so during mediation sessions and the purer and less judgmental the response will be.

Understanding this allows for personal development and as a result growth as a mediator.


Personal Development: Be accepting of other people’s reality

Personal Development by accepting other people's reality

Most of the time personal awareness – and consequently personal development – helps manage and resolve conflicts. Accepting other people’s reality is something that can not only transcend conflict but also lead to a more harmonious life.

Conflict management through acceptance

Transcending conflict

A recurring theme when people disagree is that one person does not accept another person’s version of events. They reach a stalemate when the conclusion is ‘you are lying’. In reality there often is no single truth, just different people’s experiences. We can live through exactly the same event and have a different experience of it but it seems hard for us to accept this when we are in disagreement with somebody.

The myriad ways in which we take meaning from what we encounter and how we process and remember that is down to a complicated combination of neurology and past experiences. If acceptance of other people’s reality was a starting point it would make life so much easier but we get stuck in the paradigm that one thing must be true and another thing false. We think that if we accept the other person’s reality we accept their experience as the ‘truth’.

Other people’s reality is simply their reality and we can be as accepting of it as we are of our own.

Be curious about their experience, their interpretation, how did they come to see it that way? Can you put yourself in their shoes and see why they might think what they think? Go on a journey of exploration together to explore your different experiences.

Beyond conflict

Trying to understand a different perspective and reflecting on your own leads to understanding and harmony. Standing stoically behind your own perspective with no openness to reflect or hear a different view leads to misunderstanding and conflict. If acceptance and openness is your starting point you have got a much greater chance of being able to appreciate each other.

Personal development through acceptance

Accept people as they are and find the points where you can connect rather than looking for where you disagree. Your acceptance can be transformational both for your experience and for the relationship. People respond more positively to acceptance than they do to resistance, judgements and dismissiveness.

  • What are you trying to protect by being closed to an alternative view?
  • What are you afraid of?
  • Does resisting really serve your life positively?

Ask yourself these questions and begin to accept other people’s reality. Allow yourself to evolve, experience relational clarity, watch conflicts resolve and enjoy the benefits of a more harmonious life.