Mental preparation for mediation – Mindfulness mediation
Over and over Mark Umbreit has emphasized the importance for the humanistic mediator to become sufficient centred and mentally prepared for the mediation task at hand. Like many other important learned skills in mediation, words cannot communicate the message satisfactory, and thus the mediator must personally go through the processes of centering, achieving awareness and generate genuine caretaking, so he himself can sense how it feels to get them from the mediator compare to not getting them.
First then he/she can adjust to the required mental state, where the client sense that you, though relaxed, are genuine emphatic and full attentively present for him/her, and that you are genuinely taking care, though respecting the parties’ autonomy and keeping you neutrality, - that is being the helper of the parties in their strive to reveal sufficient data to the table, - and only the helper.
Preparation is about emptying your mind of any straining thought. Being completely empty and relaxed makes it possible to open up for the mediation at hand. It’s not easy just at sudden to think about nothing. It is advisable to make some yoga postures taking your full attention. Combined with awareness on physically and mentally relaxation, you become able to empty your mind of any distraction. Do not distract yourself by thinking about the parties, you will meet shortly. Trusting the process makes it easier not to think of any data, and to trust that the data needed, will be present when needed as long as one of the parties is still there.
As Carl Rogers developed person-centred therapy (the main inspiration to humanistic mediation), one of his aims was to create more of a personal relationship with clients, helping the them reach a state of realisation so they can help themselves, encouraging them towards growth on the immediate situation rather than the past, making them able to reach a better sense of self, rather than living in an irrational world, helping them achieve personal growth and or come to terms with a specific event or problem they are having.
The learned skills, mindfulness meditation and mediation, are ways to learn to achieve the special state of mind required, and learning mindfulness mediation is a journey to awareness of 1) yourself, the 2) other and the 3) whole. Like other mindfulness mediators I recommend as means yoga and mediation the Indian way. At Ananda in the Himalayas (just north of the holy city Rishikesh) http://www.anandaspa.com/LocationGuide/index.asp in the foothills of Himalaya in northern part of India, I have found a place for education second to none. By practising, practising and practising you learn to adjust the pace of you mind, and the whole environment is one huge model of genuine caretaking. By the way, the environment, the accommodation, the facilities, the cuisine, the staff and the teachers are unbelievable.
When preparing yourself for the mediation at hand, and when you have reached complete awareness and relaxation, focus on all the sounds around you. Identify them one by one, and go to the next one. Regard them as concentric circles, and go from the outer to the inner. Finally you focus on your breath as the closest sound. Now check the pace of your breathing. Inhale and sense the air as it passes all the way down. Then exhale by emptying your lunges as much as possible without pushing and sense the used air as it passes all the way up. As a mediator should never push but rather encourage, treat your body the same way during the preparation and your body will respond. Follow this procedure till your body is completely relaxed and you mind completely aware. During the mediation, check the pace of your breathing. If it has become short again, make a break in the mediation and prepare once more.
The difference between being physically and mentally relaxed can be illustrated by this parable: When physically relaxed, another person can, by touching a body part of yours, sense if that body part is tense or relaxed. When you are mentally relaxed, you can sense the relaxed body part by thinking of it and by that way check if it is really relaxed and letting go.
Awareness of yourself is the ability to sense any part of your body (relaxed or tense) whenever you want to and likewise to sense body processes as for instance the breath, by which you is able to sense it passing the nostrils, the neck, the collarbone, the rib cage and touching the abdominal muscle.
Awareness of others is ability to sense and imagine what they are feeling and telling (every single word has a meaning); - literally as images on your mind. You have been empathetic, when the other as feedback confirms your images as describing their feelings or experiences appropriate.
Awareness of the whole is ability to sense, imagine and put the sensations and images in to a higher context providing clarity as to what the mediation at hand is really about.
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