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Mind Advice? Bring Attention To The Conflict

From Stephanie Allen West’s blog on Neuroscience

and conflict resolution .

Would the following be helpful in the resolution of conflict? Increased ability to

  • Prioritize and manage tasks and goals
  • Focus on specific information
  • Stay alert to the environment.

Yes, these abilities can be assets in conflict resolution, whether you are a party to the conflict or a professional assisting in the parties’ resolution. Once again, we hear of a way to increase these helpful abilities.

In another flurry of articles just appearing in publications, the role of meditation in improved attention (of which the three abilities above are subcomponents) is being described. Researchers at University of Pennsylvania looked at changes in the way the brain works resulting from meditation. From the Medical News Today article "Improved Attention With Mindfulness Training Demonstrated By Penn Researchers" . . .

Researchers [Amishi Jha and Michael Baime] found that even for those new to the practice, meditation enhanced performance and the ability to focus attention.  Performance-based measures of cognitive function demonstrated improvements in a matter of weeks.  The study, to be published in the journal Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, suggests a new, non-medical means for improving focus and cognitive ability among disparate populations and has implications for workplace performance and learning.

The benefits of meditation and mindfulness are not news. And many

scientists are researching in this arena. In a two-year-old article "Science Explores Meditation’s Effect on the Brain," one of the reasons for the mindfulness research is noted.

In 1998, Dr. James Austin, a neurologist, wrote the book Zen and the Brain: Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness.
Several mindfulness researchers cite his book as a reason they became
interested in the field. In it, Austin examines consciousness by
intertwining his personal experiences with Zen meditation with
explanations backed up by hard science. When he describes how
meditation can "sculpt" the brain, he means it literally and

Although this area of research is
not new, each study confirming the age-old wisdom helps to make the
practices of meditation and mindfulness considered by people in
increased numbers. Even skeptics are able to see the proof; no one
needs to take the benefits on faith.

I have always smiled at the irony of "mediation" and "meditation"
being only one letter apart. But the people who can increase their
effectiveness through meditation are not just mediators, are they?
We’d enjoy hearing from you about how meditation improves your conflict
resolution skills of any kind.


Stephanie West Allen

Stephanie West Allen, JD, practiced law in California for several years, held offices in local bar associations, and wrote chapters for California Continuing Education of the Bar. While in CA, Stephanie completed several five-day mediation training programs with the Center for Mediation in Law, as well as a two-year intensive… MORE >

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