MIND OVER MATTER: The Initiative on Mindfulness at University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law

meditationIn an earlier posting I had lamented the confusion in the public mind between “mediation” and “meditation”. There is, however, a potentially valuable connection between these two distinctly different practices insofar as a technique used in one can increase a practitioner’s effectiveness in the other.

With this understanding in mind, the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law launched a program called the Initiative on Mindfulness in Law and Dispute Resolution, under the direction of renowned mediator and law school professor Leonard L. Riskin. According to the law school’s web site, the Initiative “is devoted to exploring the potential benefits and risks of mindfulness (and to some extent related contemplative practices, including yoga and other forms of meditation) to members of the legal and dispute resolution professions and those who use or are affected by those professions.”

Some objections, however, have been raised to the teaching of mindfulness at a public university, including concerns that doing so may constitute a constitutionally impermissible endorsement of religious beliefs.

In the best spirit of dispute resolution, however, a public debate concerning mindfulness will be held this Thursday at the law school, with the aim of promoting dialogue and providing an opportunity for all perspectives on this issue to be heard.

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