Mindfulness can be described as an intuitive awareness of present-moment experience as distinguished from thought-driven judgments or interpretations about that experience. Mindfulness refers to a state of being, and as such can only be described, not defined. Definitions reduce phenomena to static “things.” Insofar as mindfulness refers to perpetually fleeting present-moment experience, any attempt to reduce mindfulness to a static experience is misguided.
In the context of law practice, mindful lawyering helps clients transcend narrow interpretations of challenging life experiences and embrace a more broad awareness of present-moment reality.
For example, a client facing divorce in which children are involved may, understandably, experience fear of potentially being denied time with his or her children in addition to heightened economic uncertainty. Most clients facing such a situation, unless they have a developed mindfulness practice, will employ intellectual strategies to “make the fear go away.” Chief among these strategies is likely to be a decision to retain a lawyer to “fight” and “win” more custody or financial resources.
If the attorney engaged by the client in this scenario lacks a developed mindfulness practice, he or she is likely to approach the situation in a way consistent with traditional legal training. This traditional training is oriented toward factoring out “feelings,” “emotions,” and similar spiritual components. As a result, the typical attorney/client interaction usually serves to further cement a cerebral, defensive and aggressive orientation to the client’s situation. The client is likely to continue experiencing a high level of discomfort and anxiety likely to manifest in aggressive reactions towards the other party/parties, and serve to escalate conflict.
The mindful lawyer is uniquely positioned to interrupt this destructive cycle. Prior to crafting a concrete legal strategy, the mindful or holistic lawyer can work with the client to more meaningfully ground him/her in present-moment experience, and in the process create some “distance” between this experience and his/her entrenched conditioning and habitual reactions.
As a result of this more mindful approach to lawyering, clients may realize a sense of peace and grounding that has been elusive while trapped in fear-evading, intellectually driven strategies. It is the heightened connection to present-moment experience that enables clients to realize a felt connection to “life” apart from his or her intellectual narratives about his or her experience. It is this very connection that gives rise to optimal wisdom and appropriate responses to challenging life situations.
To learn more about mindful lawyering, visit http://www.therapyforlawyers.com or call Licensed Psychotherapist and Attorney Michael Lubofsky at (415) 508-6263.