Day in and day out, we attorneys have to navigate ever changing landscapes and demands, and do so in a manner that allows us to be responsive, efficient and effective; and in a manner that keeps us at the top of our game without burning out. In general, we lawyers have not managed the “not burning out part” all that well.
So let’s try and change that right here, right now. Are you with me?
- Begin by sitting in a comfortable but upright and stable position.
- Close or lower your eyes and bring your attention to your breath.
- When your mind wanders away, and it will, notice where your mind has wandered and gently bring it back.
- Try this for a few moments.
When you are done, notice how you feel? Where did your mind wander off to? And most importantly congratulate yourself for noticing that your mind wandered off and for gently bringing it back.
Scott Rogers, founder and director of the University of Miami School of Law’s “Mindfulness in the Law” Program, in his article “What Do We Want? Mindfulness in Law!” teaches us that mindfulness is allowing the moment to be as it is – - thoughts, feelings, body sensations and all. Too often we wish away the present moment, either travelling back to the past or resisting the present because it is unpleasant or uncomfortable. Scott explains that rather than resist or react unthinkingly to what may be unpleasant or unwanted, mindfulness practice trains us to recognize that we are resisting or wandering and bring our attention back to the original object of our attention, whether it is the case we are reading, the person we are listening to, or the breath.
We all have a choice; we just seldom use it, or use it wisely. We have the power to change what we do with our choices through mindfulness and the breath. Over time this change will allow us to become even more responsive, efficient and effective lawyers, without the burn out.