Bench & Bar

SEP 2018

The Bench & Bar magazine is published to provide members of the KBA with information that will increase their knowledge of the law, improve the practice of law, and assist in improving the quality of legal services for the citizenry.

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45 BENCH & BAR | moment, and non-judgmentally." 2 It was first introduced into the legal profession in 1989 when Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Soci- ety in Boston conducted a program for judges. Since judges must pay attention to everything going on in the courtroom, they wanted to learn mindfulness and meditation to reduce stress and have a "sys- tematic way of handling one's own intrusive thoughts and feelings." 3 Mindfulness is the awareness that arises when we non-judgmen- tally pay attention in the present moment. It cultivates access to core aspects of our own minds and bodies that our very sanity depends on, says Jon Kabat-Zinn, from e Unexpected Power of Mindfulness Meditation. Mindfulness, which includes tenderness and kindness toward ourselves, restores dimen- sions of our being. ese have never actually been missing, [it's] just that we have been missing them, we have been absorbed elsewhere. When your mind clarifies and opens, your heart also clarifies and opens. 4 e "non-judgmental" part of mindfulness allows us to simply be a part of. One of my favorite adages is that "things are neither good nor bad, they simply are." William Shakespeare wrote it in "Hamlet," Act II, Scene 2, as "for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." Flash forward a few hundred years to the TV show Mad Men, and Don Draper reminds a client that "change is neither good nor bad, it simply is." When we allow ourselves to look at our circumstances, our cases and clients, our families, and our jobs not in the realm of judgment, but just as they are, we elimi- nate all of the noise our head makes trying to classify, affirm negative thinking, and pigeon-hole the information into categories and nice, neat, little boxes. In truth, things simply are. Our own perspective defines the circumstance and we get to choose what that is . . . good or bad, or perhaps nothing at all. Consider the "glass half full" versus "glass half empty" personalities. It's the difference between an optimist (half full) and a pessi- mist (half empty). Since lawyers are trained to think pessimistically, and indeed studies show we excel using pessimistic thinking, we are typically "glass half empty" folks. But what if you looked at the glass and it just was? It was neither good (half full) nor bad (half empty); it was simply a glass with liquid in it. at doesn't change one single fact about the glass, what's in it, or how much. But the absence of judgment frees your mind to simply accept that there's a glass with some liquid in it and you don't have to choose whether that's good or bad. It removes the exercise of evaluating, label- ing and then trying to extrapolate "what's next" or what the labels "good" and "bad" actually mean in the situation. is mode of non-judgmental thinking provides tremendous relief for your busy lawyer brain and allows you to simply observe and accept. It sharpens your focus on what exactly something is—without all of your assessment and judgment. is is vastly different from the critical thinking we spent three years learning in law school, and that we carry into every moment of our daily law practice and unfortunately at home after we end our work day. It allows our brain a "breather," if you will, from all of the critical thinking and judgment we necessarily exhaust it with on a daily basis. It is mental respite. "Mindfulness is simply awareness, something you don't have to practice for 20 minutes at a time. You can be mindful anywhere, anytime and with anyone you like." 5 e other gift of mindfulness, which might be especially helpful for lawyers, is that by its very nature it takes us out of our tomor- rows and our yesterdays and demands that we focus on the only thing we truly have, the now. Lawyers live by calendars. We ruminate on past losses (more so than on past wins). We worry about future hear- ings, depositions, and trials. Our past and our future get so jumbled together that the "now" becomes lost. When we are able to slow down, be in the moment, and fixate (our laser focus) on being exactly where we are in this instant, the tangled thoughts in our heads can begin to unsnarl. oughts become clearer. Colors become brighter. Food is more flavorful (there's a practice called "mindful eating"). Complex decisions become less complex. Stress is reduced. Life is easier and better in the now. To better understand, and perhaps develop your own mindfulness practice, consider watching some of the videos and reading some of the articles and books listed in the footnotes. In his number one best seller "e Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment,"

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