As you read this blog, wiggle your toes. Feel the way they push against your shoes, feel the weight of your feet on the floor. Really think about how your feet feel right at this moment.
Congratulations, you have just done your first mindfulness meditation.
So what exactly is mindfulness and what does it have to do with the practice of law you ask? While there are many different definitions, perhaps the most straightforward is the definition used by Jon Kabat-Zinn, “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” As stated by Thich Nhat Hanh, “the present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive you will see it.”
This time of year we are blessed to be practicing law in Florida. As our friends, family, and colleagues in the North dig out from yet another snow storm, we here in Florida are enjoying a balmy winter. Nonetheless, pleasant weather aside, we lawyers in Florida suffer the same pressures and demands in the courtroom and the boardroom as do our Northern colleagues, and very few of us are attentive to the present moment.
As attorneys we are faced with a continual barrage of demands from our clients, our colleagues, opposing counsel, judges … it is never ending. It is a 24/7, 365 day world we live in. Amidst this constant overload, we are expected to always perform at our best.
How many times have you been paying careful attention to your client, a colleague, an adversary or even a judge only to find that your mind has wandered and you did not fully hear what was being said?
How many times have you been faced with an irritating adversary or received some undesirable news and just lost it?
Lawyers tend to be classic “type A” personalities, and early on many of us suffered from a fear of looking silly, a fear of losing, a fear of being disliked. If you add to this mix adrenaline and ego, it is no wonder that lawyers as a group are perhaps the most dissatisfied with their chosen profession, and are in general getting a bad rap in the world at large.
But, you have a choice. You can continue on your path (some would argue to self-destruction), or you can make a change, a change that comes from within, a change that gives you time to reflect and respond, rather than just react. How you ask – it starts by just taking a breath.