Mediator Prefers Music for Sunday Meditation

Published on November 16, 2010

Now that mediator Bathabile Mthombeni starts her weekdays at 7am, she makes sure her weekends are just as therapeutic for her as her clients.  Having left her position as Associate University Ombuds Officer for Columbia University, she’s began the building blocks for her own mediation coaching over the past two years.  After meeting with her business partner, Dennis Owens, the rest of her day is filled with everything from planning, marketing, advertising, and organizing for the launch of their joint venture: Untangled Resolutions—for relationships and divorce.  With a Juris Doctor degree in Mediation from Columbia Law School and an Artium Baccalaureatus degree in Sociology from Princeton University, the South African-born Californian has devoted her life to guiding others to resolutions; but her weekends are strictly catered to herself.

NO REGULATIONS I’ll sleep late and wake up when I feel like waking up– anytime from 10 to 12.  I’ll exercise, perhaps run, and then I’ll take a long hot bath; catch up on reading either the New Yorker, or New York Magazine; or—believe it or not, what’s very relaxing for me—sort my laundry.

STAYING HEALTHY I cook in advance so that I’m not tempted to get Chinese or something like that.  I’ll cook a big pot of pea soup or lintel soup or something.  Sometimes I won’t leave my apartment for the two days that I’m here. It’s sort of like a bed in breakfast weekend—without the bed in breakfast.

ONE PLATE I have wanted to invite people over.  My place is a little small so I’ve been hesitant to do it….as of yet.  Who knows?  It’s a wonderful day for me because it’s very unstructured.

HOME OFFICE I now work more hours than I did when I had a 9 to 5 job. I might end up doing some work on Sunday, but that’s because so much of what I’m doing is something that I enjoy anyway.  For instance, I’ll spend a few hours planning coaching workshops around the idea of misperceptions.  What happens in mediation is that you’ll see people get stuck on an issue and keep on going over it again and again and again. And that can be a clue to the mediator that what’s going on isn’t really about a thing—money or property—it’s not about that.  It’s about the interaction that has happened amongst the people who are there.  Every person seeks acknowledgment, recognition. It’s sort of intuitive.  It’s built in our DNA.

INTERPERSONAL HOBBY I’ve been playing the guitar for just over two years.  And I write, so I enjoy playing my own music.  I also like to play other people’s music as well.  I started singing when I was in the 4th grade in a choir, but I come from a family of singers.  I’m from South Africa so singing is sort of in the blood, but I wouldn’t call myself a professional.

FIRST SELECTION I really like playing the song Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen.

PRACTICAL LESSONS I play the piano as well, and really love it but it’s too big for my apartment, and too expensive, so I wanted something practical.  So I picked up the guitar.  Part of the reason I started doing it is because as you get older, I think it’s important to constantly be picking up new things; to be consistently learning new things; keep your brain young.  And so that was part of the reason why I decided to do this.  Who knows what else I will pick up within the next ten years or so.


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