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The Timelessness of Introspection and the Time It Takes

August 14, 2013

I am not a religious person, at least not in the traditional sense, but I do think Jewish thoughts, both as they relate to life generally and, as in my writing from time to time, as they relate to my mediation practice as well.

In the latter context I have begun thinking about next month’s observances and the beginning of the Jewish New Year.

The observances of the High Holy Days (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and so forth) actually contain timeless concepts important to me as a mediator:  Jewish liturgy for this time focuses us on introspection, apology, forgiveness, repentance, transformation, renewal/return, resolution.

These are deeply personal matters, intimate, visceral in nature.  They reflect the deeply felt emotions we have towards each other and within ourselves, and in the religious context (not the mediation context) our emotional ties with God.

There is time built into the Jewish High Holy Days for reflection and return: The Days of Awe, Yamim Noraim (from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur) are ten days long, the Yom Kippur observance nearly 25 hours long.

There is not always so much time built into a mediation session (but as we know, mediation is not an event, it is a process).

I once wrote a poem about mediation, consisting of singular words tracing the stages of mediation as I saw them.  I called it “Alliterative Mediation.”  See,

It goes like this:

Rage / Rancor / Rebellion / Resistance / Reflection / Revelation / Resignation / Responsiveness / Repair / Relief.

Now as I look at some of these words, I can see within them, particularly in the string starting with “Reflection,” the concepts of the High Holy days, as above: “introspection, apology, forgiveness, repentance, transformation, renewal/return, resolution.”

What I do not see in the poem, but what I hope is implicit, is that this process takes time, sometimes lots of time.

People embroiled in a dispute for months or years cannot transform themselves through such introspection quickly, say in a two or three hour mediation session, to reach resolution if they are not emotionally ready.

It may take many more hours, or days, or even weeks or months.

Of course this is sometimes inconsistent with the time/money pressure of private mediation. I have written about this before in a piece I wrote, before this blog came to be, called “Allowing for Creativity and Success in Real Estate Mediations – A Case Study of Time, Togetherness and Talk” See,

I AM sensitive to the financial impact of the mediation process, and so have managed the time, where appropriate, through all day sessions lasting late into the night, through successive but shorter mediation sessions, through follow up telephone calls and so forth, or even some combination of these.

But I also continue to hope that litigants and their attorneys will be cognizant of, and factor in, the time so necessary for resolution, as they budget for, and schedule, their mediations.

And I hope for all readers the opportunity, if and when presented, for personal reflection, introspection, and the renewal that comes from the same.   (And, to those for whom this is appropriate, I take this time too to wish you a good and sweet New Year.)


David I. Karp is a full time mediator of real estate and business disputes.  His website is .


From → Mediation

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