Peace in the Storm
The inevitable tensions involved in family law, divorce and mediation bring emotional pain and memory to the surface for everyone involved. I have recently been certified as a Forgiveness Coach (link to Forgiveness Section on Site), and had the honor to work with Eileen Barker, a leader in the emerging field of Forgiveness.
Eileen Barker is a calm, serene healer in the sea of this tumultuous legal field. An attorney and mediator, Eileen chose many years ago to turn her family law practice first to mediation, then to the field of forgiveness. I follow in her footsteps to further my family law practice and help people overcome the tensions and pain that arise when going through a divorce.
She was first inspired when she read Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom. Eileen Barker follows a long lineage of teachers who practice forgiveness. With such examples as Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Desmond Tutu, the stories they teach embrace the philosophy of forgiveness.
Many people hear the word forgiveness and religious examples such as Jesus or the Holy Mary are brought to mind. We should remember that these guides did not invent forgiveness, but rather lived the philosophy of forgiveness, by being an example and spreading the concept to those in need of healing.
Similarly, Eileen embodies the serendipitous, gentle nature of one having learned forgiveness. Amazingly, she has also brought this process into her fast moving, highly competitive legal practice. Every member of her law firm is trained in foregiveness. This way, not only does Eileen accomplish the forgiveness work for herself, but she acts as a guide for other professionals to learn the steps that will allow them to reach forgiveness on an everyday level, in every field of practice.
Eileen has developed a step-by-step work plan to implement forgiveness into people’s daily lives, and teaches them the fortitude to keep that forgiveness alive every day. In addition, she leads many seminars, workshops and speaks to the topic in order to show people that this serenity of mindset can be achieved, even when embroiled in any legal dispute or situation that stresses people and causes pain.
The concept of teaching forgiveness as a research based program that can help people manage their own pain constructively was first developed by Dr. Fred Luskin at Stanford University. Dr. Luskin has written several books on forgiveness, conducted numerous studies on the subject, and developed the concept for decades through research and lectures at his Forgiveness Institute at Stanford.
In 2016, I was blessed to attend a panel that Eileen facilitated with
Dr. Luskin to demonstrate to the audience of Judges and attorneys how to incorporate forgiveness teachings into their legal practices and courtrooms. An inspiring teacher and thinker, Dr. Luskin has created the blueprint which Eileen has expanded to apply these teachings in a legal arena.
Eileen’s method has brought the forgiveness philosophy to the forefront of people in need through her teachings and classes. Dr. Luskin told Eileen recently that he admires her work as she is “in the trenches”, pulling people up from their pain every day. Eileen has many forgiveness clients in her practice, teaches seminars regularly, and hosts a monthly free forgiveness circle. She also conducts seminars in Europe for lawyers and mediators, many of whom have expressed a great interest in learning how to weave these concepts into their legal practices for the clients’ sake.
One of the most important concepts that Eileen taught me was that one cannot teach forgiveness unless one has learned it for oneself. When I tutored as a forgiveness coach under Eileen, I spent a year deeply involved in releasing my own personal stories so I could embrace foregiveness for myself. The process is transformational. Now as I embark on my own practice of teaching forgiveness to clients, I cannot help to pause and admire my mentor Eileen Barker who has brought so much good to the world through her work. In this difficult field, it’s comforting to know we have inspired leaders to bring peace in the storm.