I have never really gotten into the New Year’s resolutions culture, partially because I end up forgetting what I resolved to do in a few weeks. Spring, on the other hand, brings a different perspective for me. And, in less than 72 hours, Spring 2015 shall officially be here. (I just hope Mother Nature knows it!)
Spring means Daylight Saving Time, flowers blooming, more outdoor time and, at least for me, allergies. But what I have really been thinking about for this spring season is practicing meditation.
I stumbled upon the practice of meditation in law school. I needed an elective during my last semester that “fit” into my schedule. So, instead of taking a three-hour course on Friday, I took Contemplative Lawyering, which was scheduled Monday through Thursday at 8 a.m. in the morning. I soon realized that this was and continues to be one of the most useful courses that I took during my law school tenure.
The practice of mindfulness is a type of meditation that focuses on breathing, learning to live in the present and forward thinking. It allows one to keep things in perspective, prioritize, and to evaluate life holistically. Specifically, our professor taught us how to use mindfulness as a means to increase empathy in the practice of law.
I found this totally helpful. For me, the practice of mindfulness has assisted me in really stressful situations. For example, during the summer that I was studying for the Bar exam, there came a time about three weeks before the exam that I could not retain the information. Although I felt I could not spare the 30 minutes for meditation, I decided to give it a try because nothing else was working at that time. So, for 30 minutes, I concentrated on my breathing and relaxed my mind. I stopped stressing about not retaining the information. I stopped meditating when my mind felt clear and unburdened. When I went back to studying, I grasped the concept better. For the remainder of the time, I practiced mindfulness every day until I took the exam. (Yes, I passed it too!)
With so many attorneys and law students burdened with the stress of our profession, I would encourage meditation and particularly mindfulness practice as a way to alleviate the pressures that come with work and to gain perspective on what we actually do every day. Of course, some may find that physical exercise takes care of it, and it may. Given the strength of our brain, I would encouraging aligning it though mindfulness with our bodies.
So as spring approaches, mindfulness practice allows me to “spring clean” my brain in order to jump start it for the season ahead.