Mindfulness For Lawyers

Posted by Editor Kristi Heidel

The following contains an excerpt from Jan L. Jacobowitz, The Benefits of Mindfulness for Lawyers, 39(2) Litigation (Spring 2013). (View Article)

Mindfulness is an awareness of life in the present moment: Simple to state, but not necessarily so easy to accomplish. Our minds are often cluttered with ruminations about the past and concerns about the future. We are so busy living in the past or projecting onto the future that often we are not acutely attuned to what is happening in the present moment. The clutter inhibits clarity of thought and increases stress and anxiety.

Mindfulness creates the opportunity to pause, breathe, and connect with one’s inner thoughts, feelings, and emotions; in other words, to become aware of how we are reacting in a given situation and to provide ourselves with the opportunity to moderate our reaction and respond thoughtfully.

…Through an exercise as seemingly simple as paying attention to the breath, with practice one becomes more expert at noticing the subtle movement of the mind and body as thoughts, feelings, and sensations continuously arise and pass away. The trick, if you will, is to not get so caught in the thought or overwhelmed with the feeling that you are transported away from the object of your concentration and lose your grounding.

When attorneys practice mindfulness, the experience they gain by noticing their minds moving off into distraction, and returning their attention to their breath, makes them better equipped to deal with the unexpected—because they catch the thoughts and feelings that are resisting that moment, and are better equipped to stay on task and respond in proportion to the challenge. For the same reasons, they enhance their capacity to be more genuine and present for what arises in their interaction with their clients, their colleagues, witnesses, and adversaries. They are better able to focus on and enjoy their work.

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