Mediation / Meditation

There’s a reason why mediation and meditation sound so similar.  I sometimes see the word mediation and mistake it for meditation and vice versa.  Take out the letter ’t’ and both words become identical.  In fact, both practices share remarkable parallels.

As a mediator, I work with disputes resolution programs in government, in communities, and within the court system.  I also meditate occasionally. Seeking a restful antidote to the holiday stress, I enrolled in an intense meditation course last December for the first time. For 10 days in a row, I sat in silent meditation for 10 hours a day and followed a rigorous program originally taught in India.  

From both practices of mediation and meditation, I see these parallels:

Observation. Mediation involves self-awareness, self-reflectiveness and observation. Meditation involves an intense observation of self—to what is happening in the physical world and what is happening inside oneself.

A Neutral Stance. Mediation rests on effective uses of neutrality. With rare exceptions, mediators neither suppress nor express the voices of participants in conflicts:  they create a safe forum for participants to voice thoughts and feelings themselves of their own free will. Mediators don’t take sides. In meditation, the practice of focused awareness—-from a dispassionate stance——mirrors that of neutrality. One observes oneself and neither suppresses nor expresses emotions, thoughts or sensations when they arise:  One notes thoughts, for example, and lets them pass by (without judgement) like grains of sand passing through an hourglass.

Equanimity. Mediators strive for balance when emotions, stress, risks, or uncertainty run high. Those who meditate—and who do so as a way of life—seek the same thing: they practice equanimity as a grounding approach and response to the ups and downs of human interaction and the vicissitudes of life.

Reality Facing. Mediators surface assumptions and options of those in conflicts to help participants flesh out ideas or resolutions; they do this to help participants face reality.  Those who meditate do this similarly by “being in the present”: They believe that what is true and what can be relied upon exists in the present moment. Facing reality by being in the present is a philosophy that is not easy to adopt but it can help in accepting and working with the situation at hand.

Coupling both mediation and meditation together and practicing both simultaneously can double the power of calm/equanimity one can bring to life’s situations:  In mediation, peace between people is realized.  In meditation, peace within yourself is possible.   Both are peace practices. Both go hand in hand.

Resource:  Vipassana Meditation:

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