At first glance, mindfulness and mediation are very different. Mindfulness is referred to as a solitary self-help/self-development practice. Mediation involves a conversation between a minimum of two parties and a mediator. When these two practices are joined, there are very similar parallels that lead to resolution.
Both practices require the person/mediator to pay attention to what is happening both internally (breathing and thoughts) and externally (smells and sounds). As a mediator, I have to be aware of not only how I act and think, but what the parties are saying and doing. When I am aware, I provide the parties an environment and support to discuss their issues and stay on topic by reframing, reflecting and redirecting communication. As an example, I recently mediated a family dispute with 3 brothers and the father. There was conflict as to how the business should proceed and it was starting to split the business apart. On several occasions, I had to redirect the communication to the topic on hand. The parties understood what I was doing and did reach full agreement. One party commented in his feedback that he appreciated that I kept the parties on track. Another stated that he felt like he was heard and acknowledged. The third said that the mediator was good in bringing the conversation back to where it was supposed to be.
In both mindfulness and meditation, the mediator/person must be able to let go of the sensations and thoughts that had occurred and be open to what new is arising at the moment. In this way, the quality of awareness is maintained in an open and transparent way as opposed to starting to deteriorate. An example of this recently occurred when I was dealing with a very angry client. I would consistently have to reframe his comments and let them go. The key is that I stay focused on the issues/goals in order that I can keep the parties focused on the same.
One of the great things about mediation and mindfulness is the mediator/party are non-judgmental, impartial and transparent. That is, the mediator does not have to decide who is right/wrong or what should be done. Thus, the mediator through her/his non-judgmental presence, provides the parties with the space and environment to make their own decisions. An example of this occurred, in a family law matter where I had a narcissistic controlling type person. I would stay calm with him and acknowledge his concerns, but did not allow myself to make judgments or decisions, Instead, I would give him options and the ideas to give him the power to help resolve the matter. The parties did reach a full resolution on both children and property issues.
To sum up, mindfulness and mediation go hand in hand and lead to the parties reaching agreement in resolution of their conflict over 90% of the time when I mediate. It is a great job and I believe that there is not anything that cannot be resolved.