Meditation for Lawyers
Mindfulness in general, and meditation practice in particular, serves to more firmly ground one in present-moment experience apart from thought-driven notions of how things need to be different than how they are in order to be “happy.” It is the very thought that things can be any different than they are in reality that is misguided and at the root of much suffering and unhappiness.
A similarly misguided expectation, however, is that dedicated mindfulness practice can successfully insulate us from any existential pain that appears inherent in the human condition. Sickness, aging, and death may lie at one end of the spectrum, while more innocuous conditions such as boredom may lie at another end. These conditions are inevitable; but the thought-driven notions of how these conditions should not exist in the first place are illusory and are what precipitate suffering on top of the inevitable challenges of reality.
Legal issues seem to trigger a range of painful experience. As with most experiences that lead to suffering, fear is often the underlying antecedent of the suffering. In most cases, however, this fear arises out of a thought-driven layer imposed on a condition existing in reality. The challenge, both for attorneys and clients embroiled in conflict, is to remain open to and accepting of the actual situation in realty without becoming hooked by conditioned thought and/or judgements about the situation.
The ability to remain grounded in our experience without becoming hooked by our intellectual processing of that experience lies at the heart of mindfulness practice, and is critical for clients and attorneys trying to successfully navigate challenging life situations.
In the throes of legal issues or conflict, the cultivation of this ability, or lack thereof, will largely determine one’s ability to identify optimal solutions to often complicated issues. To the extent that one has become hijacked by his or her thoughts in response to a given scenario, behaviors and decisions are likely to become oriented towards allaying some subconscious fear, usually related to one’s ego. Because of the largely illusory roots of such fears, decisions and behaviors based on motivations springing from these roots will prove largely unsatisfactory, and produce less than optimal solutions for all directly or indirectly impacted by the way in which the conflict is ultimately resolved.
Thus, the ability to identify and implement optimal behaviors in response to everyday life situations in general, and legal issues or conflict in particular, is critical for happiness and demands a high degree of consciousness cultivated through sustained mindfulness practice.
More often than not, when a client comes to an attorney for advice or representation, he or she is at least partially ensnared by underlying conditioning and disconnected from present-moment reality (i.e., the reality is that he or she is caught in learned conditioning or fear, which are real, but usually not based in present-moment reality). The goal of holistic law practice is to first help the client identify this conditioning so that he or she can then consciously disidentify from that conditioning and more meaningfully connect with what is really going on. In so doing, the client becomes far more able to let go of unwarranted fear and become, in general, less reactive to the situation. In becoming less reactive, he or she begins to open to a far more broad range of approaches to potentially resolve the conflict.
To learn more about the benefits of holistic law practice as a client, contact Holistic Lawyer Mike Lubofsky at (415) 508-6263, or visit http://www.Holistic-Lawyer.com. If you are an attorney interested in how to integrate mindfulness in law practice, visit http://www.mindfulaw.com.
Like most people who find their way to mindfulness practice, I did so many years ago in efforts to find more sustainable solutions to dealing with stress as a driven, young attorney in my late twenties. In what was an early incarnation of what is now called mindfulness-based stress reduction, or MBSR, I did find that by becoming more mindful of my breath, I could slow down my heart rate. The ability to do this seemed to give me a sense of relief that, up until that time, I may have thought would have only been available from solutions existing outside of myself in the form of food, drink, other people, etc.
I had no awareness or knowledge at that time of any sort of template for living in a way that could potentially transform that sense of relief into deep, sustainable inner peace. Even if such a template had been presented to me at that time, I would have thought it to be so contrary to my priorities that it would have been quickly dismissed.
For years, actually decades, I continued to practice meditation almost solely for the physiological relief it afforded me from the typical stressors of contemporary American life. For a good deal of this time, however, I pretty much continued thinking and acting consistent with conditioning I had internalized through my formative years. This conditioning, I can now appreciate in retrospect, had forged a strong egoic identity that was largely impermeable to the notion that I might look upon life in fundamentally different ways.
But as will often happen as we get older, life has ways of humbling just about everyone. Over time, we amass wisdom of experience that may, at some point, serve to penetrate the ego and open us to new ways of thinking and being in the world. Once this door is opened, we can begin trying new ways of orienting towards life experience. We can begin to let go of maladaptive strategies and behaviors. We can walk out into life with an open sense of wonder and begin to experiment with new ways of being that would have previously been too threatening to the ego.
At this point, through trial and error, as well as with the benefit of wisdom from others who have walked this path over millennia, we can come to identify specific ways of being and acting in the world that actually deepen our inner peace for beyond stress relief. What is most amazing, though, is finding that those ways of being and behaving that most foster inner peace are actually those ways of being and behaving that help others, make the world more compassionate, promote health and well-being, reduce waste, promote sustainability, constructively resolve conflict, etc.
Even as an experienced practitioner, however, I encounter times when my conditioning, together with societal norms, cause me to question the purpose or value of sustaining a spiritual practice beyond “stress reduction.” After all, much of what is required is contrary to behaviors that are “valued” in contemporary American society.
The answer to this question, though, I have come to view as the ultimate win/win scenario. What I have found is that the behaviors and ways of being in the world that help others and actually treat the world in a far more sustainable way are actually the behaviors that provide me with inner peace and clarity. When venturing out into the world with this foundation, life becomes far more interesting as behavior is not driven and limited by egoic notions of how life “should” be.
To learn more about the benefits of mindfulness practice, especially as applied to legal disputes and conflict resolution, please contact Holistic Lawyer Michael Lubofsky at (415) 508-6263, or visit http://www.Holistic-Lawyer.com.