The confusion between the two words actually comes up more often than you might think…
In September of 2017 I was hosting a seminar on “Mediation: A Healthier Way of Resolving Dispute and/or Conflict: Alternative to Court”. I thought the title clearly stated what I was going to be talking about. As I was preparing the seminar, a couple entered the room, both with yoga mats underarm and water bottles in hand. I asked them if they were here for the Mediation seminar. The couple looked at me as if I had three heads and said, “No, we’re here for the meditation seminar.” I then explained that I was not going to be doing any meditation techniques but they were more than welcome to stay and learn about mediation. The husband turned to me and said, “I have been married to her for 45 years and I have stayed married because she is always right.” I could not resist and asked whose idea it was to come to this venue that night. The wife quickly pointed at the husband and chuckled, the husband just smiled and said, “See?”
Although this situation is unique, it’s important to understand the differences…
Mediation is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), a way of resolving disputes between two or more parties. The mediator who remains neutral assists the parties on how to create a settlement that is mutually agreed to by all parties. All mediation participants are encouraged to actively participate in the process, as mediation is a “party-centred” process.
The definition of meditation according to the Buddhist Centre, is “a means of transforming the mind”. Buddhist meditation practices are techniques that encourage and develop concentration, clarity, emotional positivity, and a calm seeing of the true nature of things. By engaging with a particular meditation practice, you learn the patterns and habits of your mind and the practice.
In many mediation practices, mediators do strive to provide a different atmosphere to a traditional office setting. Many mediators use a round table rather than an oblong or square. The roundtable approach works to foster collaboration for all parties involved. The mediator helps the parties work through difficult conversations, defuse conflict, and promote communication in a calm non-judgemental environment.
To learn more about how mediation works see Mediation is Neutral and Cost Effective where I discuss the cost related to mediation and the joint agreement.