The Steps for Using Mindfulness Meditation in Arguments

Meditation helps in personal development

According to Collins dictionary, meditation is defined as a consistent practice to remain relaxed for different reasons like religious or non-religious.

To practice any de-escalation/diffusing technique during an argument, it is very important to label the problematic behavior. According to the Gottman Institute, there are four styles of communication that can end a relationship or badly hurt it – criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. These styles of communication were presented in the context of marital relationships but they can be easily applied to individuals in other situations.

Wherever there is a disagreement between individuals, it does not have to escalate to aggression and above mentioned damaging behaviors. The consequences of an argumentative episode are more stressful than the episode itself. This is because guilt kicks in or rumination happens which escalates stress levels. On the other hand, one tries to justify their behavior (lack of responsibility).

The good news is that even if we have the impulse to yell, criticize, be mean, defensive, and stonewall others, there is a healthy solution of mindfulness meditation. First of all, let’s define the terms given by the Gottman Institute for better understanding.


Constantly criticizing someone is different from one’s analysis and constructive feedback. Criticism is about attacking someone whereas the latter ones are helpful, productive, and geared towards growth. 

If an individual is engaging in criticism with someone, don’t jump to the conclusion that this is the end of the relationship. If criticism becomes a habit, it can turn into a more damaging communication style like contempt.


This level is higher than criticism and meaner because it is not just about attacking but also putting oneself at higher status morally. This can be easily observed in disrespectful comments, acts of bullying, name-calling, and mockery. The typical body language observed is eye-rolling and scorn. 

There is research evidence backing this up that contempt weakens the immune system of the parties involved. 

For example, 

“I learned to type from the very start of my formal education and I do my own work easily. When are you going to learn and do your work? (stop wasting my time!)


This is about blaming others and not assuming any kind of responsibility. This happens in reaction to criticism. More specifically, whenever there is a feeling of unjust accusations, one’s likely response is to shift the blame to others. The bad news is that this is highly unproductive and sends signals of non-seriousness and indifference towards the other party.

For example, 

Colleague 1: Have you sent the email to our clients regarding their orders?

Colleague 2: I was really busy all the time and tell me one thing that why did you not do it yourself?


This behavior is seen in reaction to disrespect and contempt. The individuals want to guard up and stop communicating with each other. Typical behavioral examples of this are acting busy and turning away the whole body from each other. 

Now that we have understood the unproductive communication styles, let’s look into their healthy and adaptive responses so that the situation can be diffused easily and the relationship can be saved. We will also see how mindfulness meditation is linked with all of this.

Calm Initiative

This should be practiced in response to criticism. First of all, the person should take a deep breath and then express their thoughts and feelings kindly using “I” statements. The deep breathing exercise will stop them from reacting to the situation. In other words, this is a gentle start and sets up an example for the other person.

For example, “I feel attacked and hurt when you criticize me like that.”

Assuming Responsibility

This is about taking responsibility for the hurtful behavior and trying to empathize with the other person. It is also about looking at the situation from another person’s perspective. First, the individuals should ground themselves with any mindfulness meditation technique like Focused attention meditation (FAM) and then have an interaction so that it is easier to take responsibility and keep an open mind for new perspectives.

For example, “I can understand that you were upset when I did not go and pick up kids from school. I will be careful next time.”

Practice Appreciation

This should be the response to contemptuous behavior. It means that expression of gratitude, supportive language, and respectful interaction should become a daily routine. This is the only way to keep the relationship intact for the long term. This has an obvious connection with mindfulness because in mindfulness meditation one learns to appreciate the present moment, their thoughts, and feelings. The same habit of gratitude and appreciation should be directed towards the other individual so that any negative impression can be resolved.

For example, “I understand that you had to work late due to work pressure but can you inform me about the situation. I was really worried about you. (no eye-rolling or sarcasm)”.

Engage in Self-Care

This should be practiced in response to stonewalling because stonewalling triggers a lot of unpleasant emotional arousal. So, there is an increase in heart rate and the immediate flow of stress hormones in the blood. 

In such cases, it is important to take a 15-20 minutes break to engage in mindfulness meditation. This will help in lowering the overwhelming feelings and the built-up emotional pressure.

For example, “Respected Anna, I am feeling emotionally exhausted and I can’t have this conversation at the moment. Let’s take a 30-minute break and then continue our interaction”.


Although the above techniques- calm initiative, taking responsibility, appreciating, and exercising self-care- are listed as separate communication styles for ease, they can be used with any of them because the central message and goal are the same.


It can be summed up that mindfulness meditation techniques help diffuse the argument as they help in deescalating the physiological response and even the escalated situation. The mindfulness meditation practices are simple and easy but the difficulty comes in doing them consistently. The core message is to be resilient in a high-stress situation and not be reactive. The encouragement is also to look for online mindfulness meditation courses. 

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