The following contains an excerpt from Robert Zeglovitch, The Mindful Lawyer, GPSolo Magazine (Oct/Nov 2006). (View Article)
The idea that lawyers would be drawn to the practice of meditation may seem counter-intuitive, but I have learned through personal experience that lawyers have a natural affinity for it.
A number of factors inherent in law practice make mindfulness and meditation particularly well suited to lawyers:
- Lawyers suffer from stress-related health conditions at an alarmingly high rate. We are two to three times more likely to become depressed or chemically dependent than the average adult. Cultivating a habit with proven links to the reduction of the negative effects of stress makes good sense. Lawyers need to take a more proactive interest in their own health.
- Lawyers are highly goal oriented. We measure ourselves. Sometimes relentlessly. Mindfulness goes beyond success and failure. Meditation practice has no expectations of outcome; the goal is simply to be. The process itself is the goal: being fully present regardless of daily experience. Lawyers can benefit from regularly setting aside a mind consumed by winning and losing.
- Lawyers are driven by time. We are chronically on deadline and overbooked. We record our time in fractions of an hour in order to establish our incomes. Mindfulness meditation affords an opportunity to experience time in a completely different, non-linear way. When consciousness rests in the present moment, our sense of time can drop away.
- Lawyers tend to be judgmental. Although this is a necessary skill in our profession, it can be corrosive when turned on ourselves or others. Mindfulness meditation encourages the cultivation of a deep acceptance of things as they are, instead of our habitual judgment of our experience. This does not mean that the mindful lawyer stops being a zealous and effective advocate—many famous Zen masters were renowned for their ferocious presence. The practice of loosening judgment’s hold can help develop qualities that are diminished or have been neglected: wisdom, tolerance, and compassion.
- Lawyers are trained to think their way out of problems. Our ability to construct compelling arguments is a wonderful skill, but not all of our problems can be solved by thinking and arguing. Mindfulness mediation draws on innate awareness that is prior to thinking and language.
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