As a participant in one of the Mosten Guthrie Mediation Practice Building groups, I have reflected over the past year on my values in growing my peacemaking practice. Forrest (Woody) Mosten is the facilitator of this group, and I have learned an immense amount from him and the other participants. If you’ve attended any trainings with Woody, then you may understand when I say my learning was not from Woody teaching or telling me how to best build my practice. No, in his most effective way, he has guided us through a self-exploration of what matters to us, what type of practices we want to have, and how we might go about continuing the development of our practices.
When I perform this self-exploration, I first realize that I cannot separate my work as a peacemaker from my intentions for why I do this work. For me, I come into the room with the intention to hold a healing space for the parties and the professionals in the room, including for myself. I then let this core intention guide me as I answer some fundamental questions. How can I best learn to create a healing space? What do I need to do to come into this space most effectively? How do I build a practice that reflects my intention?
I find the words of Gary Zukav in his books “The Seat of the Soul” and “Universal Human” helpful in answering these questions. Zukav says that when your personality merges with your soul, you create authentic power. When we are in a space of authentic power, there is no split between aspects of our personality—our stories, our wounds, our fear-based feelings—and our souls. We are centered, we are whole, we are in a space of love. I suggest, creating authentic power creates a healing space to navigate family conflicts. We become a mirror for that we hope to create in the room.
Creating authentic power is a deeply personal journey because it requires emotional awareness and understanding of those fearful aspects of our personalities. This is our personal healing work. Zukav teaches that we must first recognize when the fearful aspects of our personalities are activated. And if we can then access the highest loving aspects of our beings during these moments of activation, we are doing the healing that creates authentic power.
For me to create authentic power, I need time to heal outside of the peacemaking room. I also need time to balance the various aspects of my life that are dearly important to me: I need time with my family and friends; I need time in nature; I need time in contemplation; I need time to travel; I need time to exercise; I need time to rest; I need time to cook; I need time to eat delicious food. These activities facilitate and teach me how to access the loving aspects of my being, which I can draw upon when a fearful aspect of my personality is activated. Balancing my time in this way, therefore, helps me meet my intention for how I want to come into this work, and how I want to build my practice. Over time, I have found that if about 1/3 of my day is spent working, 1/3 of my day is spent on self-care, and 1/3 is spent with family and other loved ones, then I am in balance.
For new mediators coming out of a 40-hour basic training, I think there can often be a feeling of overwhelm as they contemplate what to do next and how to build their practices. We can see the models of advanced mediators with busy, robust practices like Woody, Susan Guthrie, and Ken Neumann amongst many others. If new mediators trained with Woody, they may have heard how he spends a minimum of 80 hours each month (or 1,000 annually) on practice development activities like attending trainings, networking, attending conferences, reading, writing, volunteering, and not in the client service room (see the below chart from Woody’s 1997 ABA book). Here is Woody’s recap of his practice building time during the calendar year of 1994 as published in his book, Complete Guide to Mediation (1997).
I agree with Woody of the invaluable nature of these activities, and I also understand that one might feel even more overwhelmed contemplating spending this many hours on practice development. But what if “practice development” were reframed to activities that create authentic power for you? How much time do you want to spend on aligning your personality with your soul?
In “Seat of the Soul”, Zukav describes what work looks like for an authentically empowered practice as follows: “When the deepest part of you becomes engaged in what you are doing, when your activities and actions become gratifying and purposeful, when what you do serves both yourself and others, when you do not tire within but seek the sweet satisfaction of your life and your work, you are doing what you were meant to be doing. The personality that is engaged in the work of the soul is buoyant. It is not burdened with negativity. It does not fear. It experiences purposefulness and meaning. It delights in its work and in others. It is fulfilled and fulfilling.” How much time would you spend to achieve such a space? How does one navigate from a basic training to an authentically empowered practice?
Let me offer three ideas. First, spend some time getting very clear about your intention for why you come to this work. This may take some time journaling, meditating upon, discussing with others. Once you have clarity on your intention, when presented with an opportunity or challenge in developing your practice, ask yourself how that opportunity or challenge aligns with your intention. Or said another way, what is your intention by taking that opportunity or facing that challenge? Does it serve your core practice intention?
The second idea came while writing this blog. I went back to my journal from when I was first developing my peacemaking practice, and I found an exercise that I performed. I asked myself to identify an ideal day in the life I most wanted to live. You can see the chart that I developed below. By visualizing a day in your ideal life, you can bring forth those aspects of your being that create love for you in your life. You can prioritize that which is most important to you, and structure your practice and the time you will spend on developing your practice into your own life.
Patrick Kalscheur, Visualizing an Ideal Day in the Preferred Lifestyle
- Early Morning Practices (5:30-7:00 am): meditation, yoga, reading, journaling.
- Morning Family Prep (7:00-8:30 am): be with boys, help prepare them for school, make family breakfast, etc.
- Time in Nature (8:30-10:00 am): hike, bike, walk the dog, etc. Take time to feel fresh air and prepare for the day.
- Billable Work (10:00 am – 12:00 pm): mediation, collaborative cases, etc.
- Lunch/Nature/Shop (12:00-2:00 pm): eat lunch, take a walk, hike, bike ride, etc. or go grocery shopping as necessary.
- Work (2:00-5:00 pm): some of this billable, some time spent exploring new avenues for practice growth, idea generation.
- Family/Cook/Nature (5:00-8:30 pm): cook dinner, eat with family, take a family walk or bike ride, read, enjoy a fire or other family activity.
- Easy work/wind down (8:30-10:00 pm): read articles or other inspiring materials, spend time with Anviksha (my wife).
- Evening meditation (10:00-10:30 pm): relaxation and release of the day in preparation for sleep.
- Sleep (10:30 pm – 5:30 am): sleep and dream.
The third idea flows from the second. Get clear on your budget and your financial needs. How much money do you need to support that ideal life you want to live? The answer to this question may mean there is more or less time available to you for the other activities. This activity can also help you price your work. How valuable is your time? How much would you need to charge for each hour if you only wanted to work a set number of hours each day?
There is not one peacemaking path. I encourage you to explore your own path and to find those activities that will create an authentically empowered practice for you. In turn, we can create more peace in ourselves and be a mirror for the families we are hired to assist.
Patrick Kalscheur is a mediator, collaborative attorney, and peacemaker. Patrick works with families going through the transition of divorce, and he is the founder of Kalscheur Conscious Family Law, LLC in Chicago, IL. Patrick enjoys incorporating consciousness practices such as meditation and visualization exercises when working with clients and other peace-making professionals. Patrick is member of the Mosten Guthrie Academy Trainer Development Program, and he looks forward to facilitating trainings with other Mosten Guthrie Academy trainers and the wonderful participants that come to the trainings. Patrick enjoys spending time with his family (wife and two boys), traveling, reading, and exploring new experiences. He can be reached at 312-767-8179, firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can learn more here: https://www.chicagoconsciouslaw.com/ and on LinkedIn.