What is mindfulness and why is it important?
And how does it relate to law?
Well, when we stop and think about it, it has the ability to permeate every aspect of our lives, because our lives are a series of interactions between ourselves and other people.
And the Practice of the law is also an interwoven and often complex series of interactions between people: litigants, lawyers and the court.
Every interaction we have has a greater impact than we often times realize.
For example, something as simple as a phone call. Imagine the person on the other line is having a bad day. You can tell the person is aggravated or very short. Even though it’s just a phone call, the person’s bad mood may have affected you without even knowing it, and could show up in the next conversation you have.
Conversely, coming into contact with someone who is positive, friendly and kind can in turn also affect us. Notice the next time you come into contact with a warm person. We respond so positively to other positive people and situations.
The point of being mindful in our daily lives is to become aware of our own actions, behaviors and thoughts, and how it affects others.
It is so easy to glide from day to day not paying attention. Have you ever gone to work early in the morning and before you realize it, It’s lunchtime, and you wonder where the entire morning went.
Or sometimes we get in our cars to get to and from work and we notice nothing until we get to where we need to go.
But what happened to the in between?
To be mindful or to practice mindfulness is simply making a decision to pay attention. When we begin to pay attention, the in betweens begin to become clearer, it becomes easier to walk through the fog in our lives.
The next time you find yourself in a situation where you find your body tensing, your heart beating intensely or wanting to be anywhere else in the world at that moment, remind yourself to stop. Breathe deeply and strong from the belly. Take a few breaths and a few moments to literally slow it down.
In our own bodies we hold the key to managing our stress levels, to cultivating a deeper awareness, to maintaining well balanced bodies and minds.
It all begins with our breathing. Try a simple meditation. Breathe deeply from the belly, drawing the breath slowly up through the lungs, and then measuring the exhales to match the inhales.
Even five minutes a day helps tremendously.
Notice how the shoulders begin to loosen up. How the face becomes softer. How the jaw relieves tension. This is cultivating awareness. Notice how the heart slows, and perhaps you no longer feel so negative, but rather calmer.
The legal profession is hard day in and day out, conflict surrounds us, no matter what your role is. Taking the time to incorporate mindfulness into our days, goes a long way. It’s like putting the oxygen mask on first in an airplane. We must care for ourselves before we can be of service to others.