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Shifting from Harm to Harmony

Getting Centered

About 15 years ago, I was headed to a life-changing event and was extremely anxious and nervous. I knew I had to be at peak-performance, and I turned to friends who were older and more experienced than me, for advice. One particular friend introduced me to a mindfulness/meditative practice that has been literally life-changing. I don’t think there’s a term for it, although it seems similar to the idea of a personal mantra. For the purposes of sharing the idea with others, let’s just call it a “Centering Word”.

The idea behind the Centering Word is to find a term, concept, or idea that will trigger you to feel grounded, calm, and in control. It’s a word that indicates peace and tranquility. Like an “on-off” button, it’s your go-to term to immediately feel more balanced and …centered. You’ll slow down your thinking, your heart rate, your breathing when you hear it. You’ll feel cooler and may even have a smile cross your lips when you think of it. It could be a keyword based on a memory of when you felt comfortable and calm, like “beach”. Or it could be the name of someone you love (or even lost), like “my dad”. For me, the Centering Word is “release”.

As I prepared for my big event, I practiced repeating the word “release” repeatedly throughout my day. I made sure that I associated “release” with allowing myself to just relax into the here-and-now. I would hear it and remember to focus on my breath and ease any tension I was feeling. It helped me feel present, aware, and with inner peace.

To this day, I use my Centering Word when I feel myself tensing up, feeling defensive or threatened, or when I’m agitated. Usually, I envision the word “release” in my head and take a deep breath and literally release all of my tensions, together with my breath. I feel increased calm and serenity and allow whatever is going on to occur with less judgment and more acceptance.

How about YOU? Do you have a word, an idea, a place or person that you associate with tranquility and centeredness? If not, what are you waiting for?! Find your word and you will find more space in your life for forgiveness and inner-calm. You’ll feel more whole and content. I’d love to hear your Centering Words and how they’ve helped you – feel free to share with me at: [email protected]

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Melody Wang

Melody Wang is a Conflict Consultant with the Harmony Strategies Group and CEO of Wang Mediation, which she founded upon graduation from the University of Southern California, Gould School of Law with an MA in Alternative Dispute Resolution. Melody is a panel mediator for the New York City Family Court and serves on the Board of Directors at the Association for Conflict Resolution, Greater New York (ACR-GNY). Prior to moving to New York, Melody was an experienced civil and community mediator in Los Angeles, California, working closely with non-profits, small claim courts and the California federal court. She also led selected trainings and workshops on dispute resolution within the Asian-American community in California.  Melody has lived in the U.S., Taiwan, China and Singapore, is fluent in English, Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese, and especially enjoys engaging in international relations and cross-cultural conflict systems.

Dara Rossi

Dara Rossi, Ph.D. is a Conflict & Strategy Consultant with the Harmony Strategies Group. She has more than 20 years of experience in the field of education and has worked with students from kindergarten through the university graduate level. Additionally, she has facilitated professional development for educators and administrators across all points on the education continuum. After10 years of service in the Department of Teaching and Learning Southern Methodist University, she launched her coaching and consulting business while continuing to serve as an adjunct professor. She holds a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction, an MBA, an MA in Dispute Resolution, and an MAT in Education, and BS in Human Development.

Isar Mahanian

Isar Mahanian, M.Sc. is a Conflict & Strategy Consultant with the Harmony Strategies Group. She is an active mediator who coaches new mediators in the program in which she serves. Isar has worked at a fast-paced technology start-up as the Head of Human Resources, leading senior executives to mitigate and resolve workplace conflicts and creating system level improvements for employees within the company. She holds a Master’s of Science degree in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution from Columbia University. 

Kimberly Jackson Davidson

Kimberly Jackson Davidson is currently the University Ombudsperson at George Mason University and member of the Harmony Strategies Group. She spent two decades at Oberlin College in Ohio, holding positions in the Office of the Dean of Students and as Visiting Lecturer in African American Studies. During her final five and a half years there, she served all campus constituencies as Ombudsperson and Director of the Yeworkwha Belachew Center for Dialogue (YBCD). Davidson is active within the International Ombuds Association (IOA), the California Caucus of College and University Ombuds (CCCUO), and the Ombuds Section of the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR). She earned a B.A. in English Literature from Spelman College in 1986 and an M.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in African Literature in 1991.

Hector Escalante

Hector Escalante is an experienced Ombuds and learning and development professional with over seven years of ombuds experience and over twenty years of experience developing and teaching course offerings which promote inclusion, healthy communication, and conflict resolution. He is the Director of the Ombuds Office at the University of California, Merced, having served many years as the organizational ombuds at the University of the Pacific. He is an ombuds partner with Harmony Strategies Group, and a consulting ombuds for Earthjustice and Union of Concerned Scientists.  Hector holds two master’s degrees and a doctorate in education. He is a United States Marine Corps veteran, a husband and father to four children. Hector’s passions include treating all with fairness, equity, dignity, and compassion and good food. 

Stuart Baker

Stuart Baker is a heart-centered strategic consultant with the Harmony Strategies Group. He makes use of all his experience in the construction industry, mediation and presenting, combined with years of spiritual pursuit, to offer a unique and broad sensitivity in his consulting work. He loves helping people deepen their harmony and connection with others, and with themselves. We are honored to have Mr. Stuart Baker on our team, pioneer of “Conscious Cooperation” – his book can be ordered here
 

Kira Nurieli

Kira Nurieli is the CEO of the Harmony Strategies Group and is an expert mediator, conflict coach, trainer/facilitator, consultant, and restorative practices facilitator. She has spent upwards of twenty years helping clients handle conflict and improve communication strategies and has presented at numerous conferences and symposia as a subject matter expert. She holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s degree in Comparative Performance from Barnard College. She especially enjoys helping individuals, teams, and lay-leaders become more impactful and empowered in their work and is honored to work alongside her esteemed colleagues with the Harmony Strategies Group.

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