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Taking Time and Making Time in Mediation and Elsewhere for Reflection

September 30, 2016

Tradition holds that this is the time of year for reflection. Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) begins this weekend and it starts a ten day period culminating in Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). These ten days are the “Days of Awe” (Yamim Noraim).

This is the time to reflect on many things: what the last year has brought; what the new year will bring; from and to whom we can ask or grant forgiveness; whom we can thank; what we have done and can do to improve social justice; and so forth.

Reflection is actually an important part of mediation as well. It is a time in which disputants can move from anger, resentment, retribution, and the like, to an acknowledgment that there is harm, including self-harm, in these feelings. It is a time for “mending fences” as it were, and for moving on in life.

Sometimes, with the time pressures of mediation and the associated costs in attorney fees and mediator fees, even if moderate, only a little attention can be given to the process of reflection. Sometimes, everyone (except the mediator) wants “to get to the numbers” right away.

But time for reflection is important, and needs to be built in, because of the emotional content of nearly every dispute. Thus, it is critical that the mediator have control over the pace of the session, making time for the inevitable outbursts or catharses, for the posturing and positioning, then for the consideration of underlying interests and needs on both sides of the table; then sometimes for apology and forgiveness; then finally for the reflection and acknowledgment that an emotional and expensive burden can be lifted with compromise and cooperation leading to a satisfactory resolution.

I am all for pacing the mediation to allow the process to work, and I am all for reflection that leads to change.

Which brings me back to the Days of Awe. In this next ten day period, I too will reflect: on my life; on improving my life and the lives of others; on my family and friends and their needs and interests; and on all that’s good, and can be made better, in the world.

And I will try to leave past burdens where they should be – in the past.

Hoping that you too will take time, and make time in your mediations and your personal lives, for reflection, I wish each and all of you who celebrate a good and sweet New Year of happiness, health, prosperity, and change for the better.

***

David I. Karp is a full time independent mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. His business website is at http://karpmediation.com .

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