Did the question posed in the title cross your mind when you read the word “meditation”? For many of you, it might have. After all, meditation is generally understood to be an esoteric concept, or an activity apt for people not from the commercial world.
But that notion has been busted by science, as well as by modern practitioners of meditation including top CEOs like Mike Milken, ad industry mogul Renetta McCann, NBA coach Phil Jackson, and Larry Brilliant, head of Google’s philanthropic efforts. Meditation is going to be the next big reform in public health and will be treated at par with exercise or brushing your teeth.
This may increase some acceptability of meditation, but the question remains: why should lawyers meditate?
Well, my personal experience as an associate, then a partner and now as a senior in-house counsel, validates that meditation is a great fit for lawyers. And if I may say so, mediation is a must-have to manage the life that lawyers lead.
Some of the top few phenomenon that I believe lawyers experience, and how meditation could help are as follows:
1. The pressure of timelines
This is a reality of our lives, be it churning multiple due diligence reports, agreements or filing that suit for injunction overnight. Most of the time, the common automatic emotional ‘reactions’ are of panic and anxiety, leading to spending time avoiding that unpleasant feeling by taking a coffee break, gossiping, cribbing or doing anything but the work that’s before us.
Now, imagine, that instead of that unpleasant automatic emotional reaction, you are calm and balanced within, or you know a 5-15 minute exercise that could create that calm and peace within. Wouldn’t the response change? It is likely that one may look at the assignment holistically and realize that the workload is not as much as it seems. Or, focus on the work, collaborate and get the assignment done in the given time. Or, if it is actually impossible to achieve, have the courage to explain to the client that for a good quality product, it will take a bit longer than expected.
Various scientific studies have shown that continuous practice of meditation has an effect of reducing stress, anxiety and creating inner balance in different situations. One could try out some practices like Heartfulness Relaxation (YouTube), which I personally follow.
2. Decision Making
Lawyers have to make many decisions, and as one grows in the career, the decision-making increases. What complicates this is that ethics form a foundation of the profession and at the same time, like any other professional service, it also needs to be a sustainable business.
The decisions could range from resolving a conflict of interest situation to balancing ethics with a business opportunity, or a seemingly trivial matter of whether one should raise a particular point in a meeting. In my experience, whenever I have listened to the heart, my seemingly stupid points have made members of the meeting reconsider a line of thought.
Meditation is known to develop our intuitive abilities, which helps in the decision making process. Many a film has a dialogue that roughly says when in doubt, refer to your heart! The tool to dynamically refer to the heart and be guided by its feeling is offered by Heartfulness meditation practices.
3. Reduce anxiety, stress, and Increase overall well-being
Lawyers are not just responsible for their own lives, but many of their clients repose their trust in them. Not just that, that trust needs to translate to financial sustainability. And colleagues – be it fellow lawyers or judges – need to recognize the good work you are doing.
That is a breeding ground of anxiety and stress, isn’t it? Well, I don’t think I need to convince anyone on the benefits of meditation in reducing stress and anxiety. But if we still need some reference, read this article published on Mayo Clinic’s website. The article states that meditation not only reduces stress and anxiety but also may help in asthma, heart disease, depression and even cancer.
4. Focus and Efficiency
We may find that most of the time, we are not able to focus on the task at hand because of various distracting thoughts going on in our head. It is like multiple apps working on a smart phone, slowing it down. This affects our efficiency and we take more time for a task. We all know how true the phrase ‘Time is money’ is in a lawyer’s life. It literally is, and it is not rocket science for law firm management to realize the benefit of more efficient lawyers.
As an ending note to this piece, I would say meditation is not something to be read about but something to be experienced, and then experience the change it could bring to one’s life. The new year is a great time to start something new, to resolve to improve one-self! Meditation can be a great tool to actually keep up your resolutions.
Heartfulness Institute, a not for profit institute, offers free experiential meditation workshops where participants experience and evaluate the efficacy of Heartfulness meditation themselves. For more information, visit the Heartfulness Meditation website. The Heartfulness Meditation Masterclasses are being offered free of cost from January 2-4, 2017
Akshay Nagpal is a Heartfulness meditation practitioner and trainer, and a senior in-house counsel with a large listed company.
For organizing a Heartfulness Meditation workshop or even a general chat about meditation, he is available at [email protected] and 9971799221.
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