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Everything Is Workable

Report from the Call with Diane Musho Hamilton, June 23, 2015

Edited Recording of the Conversation

About the speaker: Diane Musho Hamilton a gifted mediator, group facilitator, and one of the authentic contemporary spiritual teachers of our time. Combining decades of innovation in conflict resolution with an enthusiasm for life, she knows how to address the challenges of our modern experience with an uncommon spiritual perspective. She has received several awards for her work in mediation. She also has been a practitioner of mediation for almost 30 years and has received ordination and dharma transmission from Genpo Roshi.

About the call:  In this call, Diane will discuss key tenets of her book “Everything Is Workable: A Zen Approach to Conflict Resolution.” She will discuss how conflict is unavoidable—but that it can be seen as a source of spiritual growth. She will outline the structure of the conflict situation and the importance of recognizing the perspectives involved – and how you can turn what is normally cause for anxiety into a win-win for those involved.

Her unique approach unites Zen wisdom and Integral Spirituality with her own story and her experiences as a professional mediator in a way that shows you how to look at conflict in a new way: as an essentially spiritual practice.

Diane Musho Hamilton has provided a PDF of Chapters 1, 5, and 6 of her book "Everything is Workable.” 



  • Welcome (Mary Ella Keblusek)
  • Technical Information (Reed Price)
  • Introduction of the Speaker (Mary Ella)
  • Presentation (Diane Musho Hamilton) 
  • Questions & Answers (All)
  • Breakout Groups (All)
  • Harvest/ Questions & Answers:   (All)
  • Closing (Diane; Mary Ella)


Mary Ella Keblusek:  Hello, I’m Mary Ella Keblusek, and I’m with the Charter for Compassion International. We are so grateful you’ve joined us for today’s call. The mission of the Charter for Compassion International is to bring together people from every walk of life, to explore ways to instill compassion in everything we do, and to care for each other and for the well-being of all members of our communities.

To that end we regularly sponsor these Global Conference Calls with inspirational and informative speakers discussing various ways to bring more compassion to our world. While we are committed to providing these calls at no charge to our participants, we do welcome donations to help us further spread this work. We’ll mention more at the end of the call about how to support the Charter’s mission.

We use a special platform called Maestro Conferencing for these calls, and I’d like to introduce Reed Price, who will be our technical facilitator, along with Ben Roberts, for today’s call. Reed, would you please explain to those who have joined us a little bit about how the call will work today?


Technical Information

Reed Price: Thanks, Mary Ella. Today we’ll be using our telephone keypads to communicate during the call. Note:  if you called in using Skype, you should use the Skype touchpad, not the computer keyboard.  In all cases, press ‘1’ for a question, and you can press ‘5’ at any time if you are having a technical problem.

If you drop off the call accidentally, just call back and we will help you rejoin the call.

In addition, on your email reminders for this call, you may have noticed there was a link to a Social Webinar. If you have a computer available, we encourage you to click on that link which will allow you to see the names of others on the call, including in the breakout sessions we’ll be having later.

Finally, I want to let you know that with your permission, email addresses will be shared among those on the call, to enable you to follow-up with each other, for example, with those you meet during your breakout session. These emails are for personal use only; we ask that they not be used for newsletters or solicitations without permission. So if you are fine with sharing your name and email address with those on this call, please press “3” now.

Thanks.  Now I am going to turn the microphone back over to Mary Ella, who will introduce today’s presenter.


Introduction of the Speaker

Mary Ella: Thank you, Reed. The Charter for Compassion International is very pleased to have as our guest today Diane Musho Hamilton, a gifted mediator, group facilitator, and one of the authentic contemporary spiritual teachers of our time. Diane’s unique approach unites Zen wisdom from the teachings of Genpo Roshi, along with Integral Spirituality from the work of Ken Wilbur.

With extraordinary warmth, depth, and insight, Diane encourages us to evolve consciously beyond old and limited ideas of who we are, so that we might discover our own unique expression of wisdom and of compassion in this time.

In this call, Diane will be discussing aspects of her book “Everything Is Workable: A Zen Approach to Conflict Resolution.”  She will be focusing in particular on the concept of "Sameness and Difference" and how an approach to peace or conflict resolution that includes and embraces difference is actually stronger and more stable than an approach that relies solely on signals of sameness and consensus.

After Diane’s presentation, we’ll have the chance to practice what Diane has spoken to us about. We’ll be breaking into small groups and Diane will lead us in a specific exercise. Then we’ll have the chance to rejoin as a full group, to harvest the learnings from the exercise, and ask questions directly of Diane.

So now it is my pleasure to present to you, Diane Musho Hamilton.



Diane Musho Hamilton: Thank you very much Mary Ella, Reed, and Ben. I appreciate the opportunity to be on the call.  Welcome everyone!  I hope you find this talk valuable.  I am happy and pleased to be asked by the Charter for Compassion to be on this call. The word compassion has such a motivating quality. Those who engage in it know there is a lot of depth in that word.  We can think of compassion as a natural outcome of awakening, expanding the heart and mind. As we see ourselves reflected in the world, we open to compassion. 

Compassion seems to emerge spontaneously when we take an interest in others in the human domain.  It is often seen as a state of being. There is a wonderful book, “SQ 21: The Twenty-One Skills of Spiritual Intelligence.”  The author talks about compassion as being empathy without a distress signal.  We can be present to others suffering and perhaps help alleviate the suffering without a distress signal going through our system.  It is important to bring compassion to life.  How we engage or manifest our compassion is the culmination of a compassionate way of being.  Compassionate activity implies a skill set. 

I am a transcendental meditation teacher and professional mediator. The root for the words “meditate” and “mediator” is the same.  Both are concerned with bringing two into one.  We are bringing our body, speech, and mind into the present moment.  As we become present we feel a congruence with who we are. The boundary between ourselves and all things becomes more blurred. We bring our own heart and mind into one and relate to the world.  A mediator brings different parties together in all kinds of situations.  In my role in court mediation in Utah, I dealt with many issues with families, children, relationships.  I developed a victim offender mediation program.  Mediation is bringing that which is two or dualistic together to become of one mind- possibly to get an agreement or contract for the future.  As I became more involved in meditation, the skills of mediation became more important.  If someone has a bad tooth, you can try to make them comfortable, however, if you have dentistry skills, you can help more.  We need to be trained as mediators and learn the skills.  We have to learn how to navigate emotional territory, how to clarify, reframe, negotiate, etc.  My book, “Everything is Workable” is a very simple compilation of this whole skill set.  Working with meditation is a fundamental skill as part of this skill set.  We can be more immediate and dynamic in our relationships. Compassion is a state of being and a state of activity.  Skills related to our compassionate activity are all-important.

One thing to note: There is a bias to some degree among those of us who do peace work.  There is a tendency to try to impose peace and to resist the presence of genuine difference.  We do that because we are incredibly sensitive to difference.  In history people were likely to be killed by a person of another tribe.  Thus, our sensitivity to difference is extremely well-honed.  We have the responses wired in our nervous system.  When we are in an atmosphere of sameness, we may feel more relaxed.  We find commonality more easily and let down our defenses more. Sometimes a lot of work is done by helping people get to know each other, by creating a space of sameness.  Educating people about our similarities and what we have in common goes a long way to creating peace.  On the other hand, difference begins with excitement and can move into an experience of threat.  

Difference is stimulating but the “amygdala hijack” can occur.  The amygdala triggers the release of cortisol and adrenaline.  We feel agitation, our breathing is shallow, our palms sweat, we clinch our jaw, and we may have a queasy feeling in our stomach /solar plexus as we prepare for fight or flight.  Sometimes this experience of the system of self-defense can feel life-threatening.  We can become defensive.  Often mediators try to get rid of the difference and soften the room and bring back sameness.  Actually, bringing the conflict forward and heightening the difference and allowing some of the more painful emotions may actually be necessary to get to deeper levels of understanding. 

The peace that includes difference is a greater, more enduring peace.  Think about the relationships you are in. Some people are skilled and some are not.  Sometimes trying to put difference on the table is just too threatening, so we stay away from those kinds of differences. For example, we don’t talk about politics and religion.  Those topics can evoke strong emotions and it can be difficult to maintain quality discussions.  We can quickly deteriorate into perceived threat.  It is quite rare on the news for commentators to facilitate a deep conversation to integrate differences.  When this happens, however, the conflicts around difference can be the fuel for change and transformation.  There is more truth to be accessed.  Our relationships become more trustable.  Maintaining peace does not always deepen a relationship.  I would like to ask you to consider this. Do you have any questions so far? 


Questions & Answers

Joe:  Ireland:  I am a professional mediator.  My experience has been the greater the tension, the greater the release at the end of the day.  Is this a common theme?

Diane:  I hear you saying that the more you work with the energetic dimension early on, there is more relaxation in the group later in the day.

Joe:  Yes, there is more possibility of resolution later in the day if tension is dissipated early.

Diane:  Sometimes the mediator actually has to be able to heighten the conflict, to tap the creative tension.  However, those sensations in the body are not always pleasant for people. If we avoid this, we can lose the creative release.  Are there other comments/questions?

Robin:  I teach intercultural communication.  I agree that it is helpful to highlight the differences.  It helps to unite people.  The biggest part of brotherhood is the “otherhood.”

Diane:  Beautiful. That is a wonderful example.

Amy:  I teach and practice a form of peer-reflective practice in 3-person or 5-person groups.  Slowing down and being present with the discomfort is very helpful.  We are present with it.  We use silence and intersperse it with dialog.  There is always a person holding space.  If we do not slow down, we feel like the slippery thing eluded us.  This structure can be used in many fields- a commitment to presence with the discomfort. 

Hugh:  South Africa:  I’ve lived in different communities and agree with what you say.  I am a mediator and work in restorative practice.

Diane: Thank you. I am thinking about when difference includes a long history of trauma, etc.  The way a mediator works with this is important.  By bringing the difference into the room, we can un-stick our stalemates.  A person doing this work can see themselves as doing a fine art to dis-embed and liberate energy and create space and harmony.  It is creating an energized harmony.


Breakout Groups

Diane:  Now is a good time to move into our small groups and have an experience of what we are exploring.  We will have breakout groups of 3-4 persons.  Please stay for this part of the call, however, if you need to leave, now is a good time to do so.  It will help us determine how many total people we have for the breakouts.

Instructions:  For the next 20 min- we will experience the contrast of being in sameness and in difference.  For the first half of the exercise, we will cultivate sameness in our breakout group.  Then, we will do the opposite and create and experience difference.

Ben Roberts:  Technical instructions:  Press 5 if you need help.  We will have breakout groups of 3 or 4 people.

Diane: Here’s the intention for the first half of the exercise:  create an atmosphere of sameness or commonality.  Look for commonalities- work, interests, world view, politics.  Find natural and spontaneous commonalities.  Say to yourself, “One way that I imagine that we are all similar on the call is….” One thought might be that we are all interested in conflict resolution.  After this discussion of sameness, you will get instructions for 2nd round. 

[Breakout groups did the first half of the exercise.]

Diane:  Thank you everyone for your patience with some of the virtual technical challenges.  I listened in and observed listening and space.  I noticed the way we used language to create commonalities, the use of the word “we” and the use of humor.  In spite of differences at every moment, there is a lot of sameness across space and time.  Now, we will explore differences.  The structure of the breakouts will be the same.  There is a spectrum of differences.  Simply acknowledging difference often may not generate tension.  To create difference, we need to be aware of when we assign value judgements.  Think about, “One of the ways I imagine we are different is…. “

[Breakout groups did the second half of the exercise.]


Harvest/ Questions & Answers  

Diane:  Thank you again to everyone for joining the call.  I’d like to summarize what I heard in the breakout groups.  I noticed that there was a certain excitement about the differences.  Also, we find ways to join the differences we hear.  We create homeostasis and safety occurs simultaneously.  The quality of listening to differences was a little more energized.  Speakers talked in more detail.  And people were attentive and more curious.   We want to see if the difference is “okay.”  Is there a judgment or criticism?  I noticed differences in terms of people speaking in different accents.  Differences in culture emerged.  Also, I noticed how discussions of difficulty arose more.  People presented the challenges they faced, stresses they experienced. 

I’m interested in hearing your feedback and observations from your breakout groups and any questions you may have.  Please raise your hand by pressing “1” to be recognized.

Richard:  The first part of the 2-part exercise was wonderful.  We had a more difficult time expressing our differences. Taking a position was difficult and to some extent, avoided

Diane:  We are deeply conditioned into sameness to create safety.

Anita:  It was hard to think of ways that we could be different.  This struck me as being kind of funny.   How can we surface our differences?

Diane:  Yes, we obviously have some beliefs and daily activities that are different, e.g. politics, etc.  I’d like to share a beautiful quote from Alfred Whitehead “The term many presupposes the term one, and the term one presupposes the term many.”  We need the one (the sameness) and the many (the differences) and the creativity to create harmony.

Anita:  This is very helpful.

Diane:  You have provided good feedback to me.  Next time I will give more modeling about things to explore in terms of differences.

Joe:  It is probably more difficult to deconstruct our commonalities over the phone as opposed to face-to-face.  It felt like a strain.

Diane:  What’s important about this exercise is to notice the impulse toward togetherness.   We are not as skilled to identify and bring out the differences.  Imagine if there were a facilitator that could help.  The homeostasis wants to balance out the differences.  We are very good at reestablishing the homeostatic experience. Noticing that expressing and experiencing difference was hard is probably the biggest take-away.

Stephanie:  I have noticed the phenomenon of people-pleasing.  This can be quite a negative feature – it can hinder the ability to sit with someone’s pain. 

Diane:  Yes, if I’m in a group and share a difference, I will first experience separation.  That, in its very nature, is threatening.  We are extremely sensitive to that. To take a stand of differentiation creates a feeling of separation.  In a trauma response, sometimes the feeling of being absorbed into someone’s pain can be threatening.  We need to pay attention to the experience.  Coming together can be soothing and differentiating can be energizing.  Human development depends on this process of moving among the various states of togetherness, identification, separating, and differentiation.   It can be very threatening to move away from what is comfortable.  It is good to feel equanimity in moving between sameness and difference.  Differences can be exciting and create greater truth.  In home life when you are different, you can bring this richness to the relationship.  What our responses are to trauma is another thing we can pay attention to.

(Name missed):  I wonder whether having a relationship or level of trust among people helps people bring up differences.

Diane:  In society, much is predicated on sameness.  As we develop as a society, we are most energized by differences.  Some relationships will support sameness and others differences.  It really depends on the capacity of those involved.

Merrill:  I think “difference” comes from the emotional charge that we experience as opposed to just the state of being different.

A lot of people have a conversational style where they search for agreement.  Others like to take the opposite point of view of what a person is saying.

Diane:  Yes, it isn’t just difference, it’s the body’s response to that difference and the accompanying emotions that may become more present.  More negative emotions may surface.  Sameness and difference are really a polarity and we can use them both to deepen the quality of the relationship.  Too much of one can cause problems.  Some people are habituated to sameness and some to competition.  In my book, “Everything is Workable” (available on Amazon or via Shambala), I talk about different styles of communication.  First you must note the style- you can agree, join, listen and then ask to see if the person is willing to listen to what you want to say. If someone is focused mostly on differences, you can say, I appreciate the difference, but I’d like to focus a little on our sameness.  We can coach the interaction.



Diane:  Thank you everyone.  I appreciate your attending the call and your questions.

Mary Ella:  Thank you Diane.  This discussion is really illuminating.  We are so pleased that you have joined us today.  I want to remind everyone that these calls are sponsored by the Charter for Compassion International. You can learn more about us and get on our email list at .

We’ll be sending out a report about our call to everyone who registered, including the email addresses for those who wanted to share them. As I mentioned earlier, these calls are free, but we welcome donations, and you’ll see a link on the report we send out to the donation page on our website.  We appreciate anything you can do.

And now it is our practice at the end of the call to open all mics so everyone can say good bye in community.  So thank you for joining us today.  Thank you to Ben and Reed for all your efforts today.


Additional Information

Website: Diane Musho Hamilton
Everything is Workable: A Zen Approach to Conflict Resolution
Amazon: Everything is Workable Approach Conflict Resolution
Shambhala Publications paperback and audiobook
Everything is Workable Online Course
Conflict is going to be a part of your life—as long as you have relationships, a job, or dry cleaning to be picked up. Bracing yourself against it won’t make it go away, but if you approach it consciously, you can navigate it in a way that not only honors everyone involved but also makes it a source of deep insight.

In this online course, Diane Musho Hamilton—longtime Buddhist practitioner and professional mediator—teaches us how to resolve the inevitable conflicts that arise in all areas of life. You’ll learn to turn toward conflict rather than away from it, which will help you unlock the creative potential inherent in every difficult situation. You’ll develop an understanding of the three styles of conflict that we all possess, including their strengths and weaknesses. And you’ll be given the tools you need to begin practicing conflict resolution skills in your own life, with guidance from Diane Musho Hamilton and the support of the learning community.

By the end of this course, you will:

  • Grow your confidence to work with conflict consciously
  • Understand your own conflict style and learn ways of engaging differently
  • Practice essential conflict skills like speaking in first person, listening, identifying interests, and generating creative options
  • Increase your capacity for curiosity and fearlessness when conflict arises
  • This online course is designed for anyone wanting to improve their conflict skills in order to support more authenticity and creativity in relationships. Managers, coaches, teachers, leaders of organizations or groups, and anyone interested in adult development will benefit from this course.

The course includes:

  • Six 20- to 30-minute lessons in audio or video format, which you can download or stream
  • Three hour-long live teleconference chats with Diane Musho Hamilton on August 11 at 8 p.m., August 22 at 11 a.m., and September 15 at 8 p.m. Eastern time. (Recordings will be made available.)
  • A download of the eBook version of Everything Is Workable: A Zen Approach to Conflict Resolution
  • Guided meditation audio
  • Practices to help you embody the lessons in real time
  • Facilitated discussion forums for reflective inquiry
  • Self-assessment questions to deepen your understanding of the material
  • Bonus materials and supplemental reading
  • Class transcripts so that you can review the lessons in detail
  • Access to all course materials for six months


Diane Musho Hamilton: Zen Study and Practice

Two Arrows Zen, founded by Diane Musho Hamilton Sensei and Michael Mugaku Zimmerman Sensei, is a center of Zen study and practice with two locations in Utah. One is an urban center located at Artspace in downtown Salt Lake City. The other is a seasonal zendo located in the town of Torrey, just outside of Capitol Reef National Park in the heart of Utah's red rock country.  A new zendo for year-round practice and supporting facilities are now being built in Torrey, with expected completion in early 2016. 

Musho Sensei and Mugaku Sensei are lineage holders in the Soto Zen tradition of Taizan Maezumi Roshi and Genpo Merzel Roshi. Both Senseis are members of the White Plum Asanga and Soto Zen Buddhist Association. We are also informed by the work of Ken Wilber and Integral theory and practice. Practitioners from all over the world regularly participate in our programs.

Two Arrows Zen retreats take place in a traditional Zen sesshin atmosphere, including zazen, dharma talks, and interviews with the teachers. We hold daily meditation practice and monthly Days of Zen. 

There are virtual on-line elements to the practice including tele-courses, virtual temple days, and on-line koan study. Diane Musho Hamilton Sensei also regularly offers programs and trainings to develop interpersonal and communication skills as a part of spiritual practice and development. 
The Two Arrows Zen program of study and practice is designed to appeal to a broad audience--to those in the mainstream, including householders who raise children, hold jobs, and seek liberation within that life plan.


Diane Musho Hamilton: Integral Facilitator

What does it mean to “embody the voice” in facilitation?

As a coach, my work focuses on a unique area of specialization: helping people unlock the power of their voice.

This fall I’ll be entering the Integral Facilitator Certificate Program, and leading up to that I’ve been taking part in IF’s public call series over the last 6 months. In this time, I’ve discovered countless ways that the Integral Facilitator approach is influencing my work on the power of voice.

In working explicitly with voices of individuals and groups, being alert to resonance, energy, tone, and emotional color of voice is essential for me–even second nature.

But what’s emerging lately is how the power of voice can influence any kind of facilitation— especially when combined with an awareness of adult development, embodiment, structural group work, shadow, polarities, and relational dynamics.

But to back up for a moment, here’s a question I’m often asked about my work: Isn’t training the voice just for singers?

My answer is a resounding “not at all!”

The voice lives at the intersection where various aspects of our human experience meet. It’s where our thought, feeling, inspiration and the body literally come together and are expressed out into the world.

See more at Embodying the Voice in Facilitation

Contact: Diane - Admin