Do mediation and meditation have more in common than you might think?

Hasan SadikMediation


Any writer who regularly produces pieces on mediation will no doubt recount the frustration of a random “T” causing mediation to be confused with meditation, and vice versa. Many have been caught out by the errant “T” that can change the whole meaning of an article. Or does it?

Of course they are entirely different disciplines but could a link between the vernacular be plausible?

Mediation is a dispute resolution practice which seeks to find a solution to a problem that all aggrieved parties can agree on. This is utilised in many different ways; companies proceed to mediation for settlement of contractual and personnel conflicts, divorcees look to settle financial differences, aggrieved neighbours to resolve land disputes and parents to resolve childcare differences. But it’s the interpersonal advantages of mediation that are a big draw for people who are not only looking to find a resolution, but also heal a relationship.

In this way, the benefits of mediation are plentiful. None more so than its pragmatic approach to helping preserve or mend a relationship. One style of mediation – transformative – is often viewed as being therapeutic, as it explores the underlying emotional and interpersonal issues at the heart of the dispute. The primary goal in this style of mediation is to foster the parties’ empowerment and recognition, enabling them to approach their problem in a calm and sensible manner.

This is where there are some synergies between mediation and meditation, which is a holistic practice that helps focus the mind on a particular object, thought or activity, to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state. Meditation techniques are varied and date back thousands of years. Of course, the goals and outcomes of mediation and meditation are different but they can both be used to help in challenging situations.

As evidence of this, a recent news feature reported that an American primary school has successfully introduced meditation into their classrooms and as a result, have seen improved student focus and a reduction in misbehaviour.

Then on the radio this week, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick, spoke about the importance of mediation in trying to tackle gang warfare. She said that “mediating between gangs” so that they are more aware of impact of their crimes could be the “most important thing” that police could do. This kind of restorative justice has proven to be hugely successful and it’s encouraging that the Commissioner is vouching for its merits.

Perhaps a mix of both mediation and meditation could be a recipe for success not only in resolving a dispute but also achieving a clarity and peace of mind that so often evades us. And most encouragingly of all, it’s not only suitable for young people, all facets of our communities could benefit.