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Pepperdine | Law

Practical Mindfulness: Clear and Calm in the Heat of Conflict

Faculty:  Rachel Wohl and Michael Zimmerman


This course will provide new practical tools for remaining focused, calm and present, even in the heat of conflict. You will learn the basics of mindfulness meditation and "Taking STOCK," a practical technique that enables conflict resolution professionals and others to continually integrate mindfulness into their work and lives. 

We all aspire to provide high-quality service and to derive satisfaction in the process, but often face barriers to fulfilling such aspirations. Stress, our fast-paced lives, conflicting demands, anxiety, burn-out and other challenges distract us from bringing our whole selves to bear upon our work and our lives, even when we are trying to do so.

Mindfulness, a systematic method of paying attention, deliberately, in the moment, without judgment, can help us gain awareness of our mental and emotional processes, our habitual reactions, and their manifestations in our mind, body, and breath. Such self-awareness opens the door to developing ourselves in ways that will enable us to be more skillful and to get greater satisfaction from our work and our lives.

What you will learn:

  • The basics of mindfulness meditation, a systematic method of moment-to-moment non-judgmental awareness, which develops both calmness of mind and body and deep insight into the workings of our minds and hearts

  • To deepen self-awareness and be kinder to yourself and others 

  • To recognize and manage reactions to conflict based on Internal Family Systems theory

  • The Taking STOCK technique, which you will practice to integrate and maintain mindfulness in various negotiation and dispute resolution roles

Rachel Wohl, JD, is a mediator and attorney who teaches conflict resolution and mindfulness meditation classes, nationally and internationally.  She is the president of Conflict Specialists International, LLC.  Wohl was previously the director of the Maryland Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office and is adjunct faculty at the University of Maryland Law School. She received the Association for Conflict Resolution's Mary Parker Follett Award for Innovation. She co-chaired the ABA Dispute Resolution Section's Task Force on Improving Mediation Quality and was a founding board member of Mediators Beyond Borders (MBB).  She is currently working on MBB capacity-building projects in the Czech Republic and Cambodia. Wohl has been meditating for over 20 years and recently coauthored "Mindfulness in the Heat of Conflict: Taking Stock," published in the Harvard Negotiation Law Review, vol. 20.

Michael D. Zimmerman is a partner in Utah's appellate boutique law firm, Zimmerman Booher, which was founded in August of 2011. He also serves as an arbitrator and a mediator. From 2000 until 2011, he was a partner in the Salt Lake City office of Snell & Wilmer, specializing in commercial litigation.  Zimmerman was a justice on the Utah Supreme Court from 1984 until early 2000, serving as Chief Justice from January 1994 until April 1998. He was vice-chair of the Utah Judicial Council Task Force on Gender and Justice, chair of the Utah Judicial Council Task Force on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Judicial System, and was chair of the board of trustees of the Utah Council on Conflict Resolution. Before taking the bench, Zimmerman practiced law in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, was an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Utah College of Law, and served as Special Counsel to the Governor of Utah.  He attended the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and graduated from the University of Utah. He received his J.D. from the University of Utah College of Law in 1969 and served as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren E. Burger.   Zimmerman first began meditating in 1993, later studied Zen, and, in 2006, received dharma transmission in the Soto Zen lineage from Dennis Genpo Merzel, Roshi. He was Vice-Abbot and taught at the Kanzeon Zen Center in Salt Lake City under Genpo Roshi until July of 2010. He teaches at Two Arrows Zen in Torrey, Utah, and at its City Center in Salt Lake City.  He has made a number of presentations to lawyers and judges on meditation, the benefits it offers to lawyers, and the science underlying those benefits.