“Take A Deep Breath”
In the work I do, Helping People Resolve Conflicts Involving Animals, I begin each mediation with one simple act.   As I do it, I ask the parties to do it as well.  It is, “Take A Deep Breath”. (TADB)
This simple activity. …breathing in…..breathing out.…lets the emotion that walks in the room with the parties and me, settle a bit before anything else starts.  People often feel it is a bit out there, whoo whoo so to speak.  Yet, in my practice, “TADB” is an awesome method of stopping the negative momentum that has brought my clients to my door, or at the very least, slowing it down so the process can start with a bit less angst.
In a case I handled recently the parties were splitting and the pet was the only thing left to “SPLIT”! 
They both claimed that:
            • They loved the pet more
            • The pet loved them more
            • They paid all/more of the Vet, Grooming and Kennel bills
            • They were responsible for all/most of the pet care
            • The Pet was a gift
            • I bought it!
The list of who has and who has not done something is enormous. 
It seems the only thing they kept track of was the other parties inequity of relationship with the pet.  This kind of ‘tally taking’ follows the concepts in a chapter of Harry Beckwith & Christine Clifford Beckwith’s  book “You, Inc.”  “Successful relationships see sacrifice as clearly equal.  Failing relationships see sacrifice as off balance.”  This is a topic for another Blog Post.
At the outset of mediation, participants often have a list of the slights and reasons why they should get the pet.  I can see, from the moment they walked in the office, the benefit this couple will receive by participating in “TADB” (Take A Deep Breath).
In this instance we did the introductions, signed the agreement to mediate, answered questions about mediation and then, when they felt all the niceties were over and they were loading their guns for bear, I stepped in and asked all of us to first participate in what I call “TADB”.
They were dumbfounded.  What could this mean?  Will it cost us more money?  I explained I start all my mediations with this practice.  I find it has an uncanny way of opening participants up to a new and interesting ways of solving their conflict.
They were skeptical.  What did those letters stand for? Lets see:
            • To Add Dollars to the Bill? 
            • Thinking And Doing Better?
            • Try And Doubt Belief [mediation will work]? (most of my clients guess this one!) 
When I tell them it means “Take A Deep Breath”, I often get a chuckle:
            • Good, it isn’t costing us anything
            • Great, this is easy
            • Boy, how much fun is this!
In the scheme of this conflict, very often no one has ever stopped to take a deep breath.  I speak to this in the first few minutes of the mediation as we breathe.  It is at that moment when most of my clients stop and think, for the very first time, about why they are there.  It is easy, painless and free since I don’t count our time breathing as mediation time.  It is such a fruitful exercise for thought provoking revelations.  It is probably the most valuable part of what I do that day with these clients.
I thought for my blog today I would give all of you permission to “TADB”.  Today, every time you are overwhelmed, angry or just confused stop and “TADB”.  Close your eyes and breathe in…..breathe out…..breathe in…..breathe out…..breathe in…..breathe out…..  Once accomplished it will amaze you how clearly you think.
You can either continue down the difficult road or you can make a detour to something better.  If you practice this enough, the choice to detour will come more frequently.  You will come to know you don’t like feeling at odds with yourself, forget about the feeling of ‘at odds’ with others!  You will choose to stay the course and feel good, or detour and feel even better.  It may enable you to hear people more clearly and be heard more clearly.  Practicing “TADB” softens emotion.
I hope all of you spend this Memorial Day Weekend with those you love.  You may have a chance to try out this process as you spend time with people you love, who may actually be able to drive you crazy.  “TADB”, early and often.
Let me know how it goes.
Happy Memorial Day!!

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