Meditation is for lawyers. Yes, I said it and no, I have not lost my mind. In fact, I will even go a step further and say, “Lawyers are exactly the group of people who would benefit from meditation.” Before you scroll to the next article, hear me out.
Legal Minds Need Training
As lawyers, we are regularly “in our heads.” Right? Before we stepped foot into law school, we wrapped our brains around those “fun” LSAT logic games. Then in law school, we learned how to think critically, analyze, analyze, and analyze some more. It’s why we are so fun to hang out with at parties! By the time we actually start practicing law, our minds have become one of our most valuable assets.
Doesn’t it then make sense that we as lawyers need to continue to exercise and train our minds like professional athletes need to train their bodies? And by training, I don’t mean just reading new statutes and case law. I mean meditation as training for the mind.
Although the brain is only three pounds of soft tissue, it has 1.1 trillion cells. The brain is two percent of our body weight, but it uses 25% of the body’s oxygen. Our minds have about 50,000-70,000 thoughts per day. As lawyers, we don’t have time to waste on all those thoughts. We need to have our minds focused on our clients’ issues, the contract we are drafting, the brief we are writing, regulations we are analyzing, etc. The more we allow all our many thoughts to interrupt us, the less successful we will be. You know as well as I do that as Type A people, we lawyers do not deal well with a lack of success.
Science Proves the Benefits of Meditation
So how can I be so sure about the benefits of meditation? My own personal experience confirms it as well as science. Science shows that meditation actually changes the way the brain functions. Here are a few scientific examples that backup my claims about the benefits of meditation:
- Enhances Concentration and Memory: A Harvard study on meditation found that after 8-weeks in a mediation program, there were measurable changes in the brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress;
- More Flexible to Change: A neuroscientist, Richard Davidson who has studied the brains of Buddhist monks that regularly meditate found “high-amplitude gamma-oscillations in the brain, which are indicative of plasticity.” This means that the brain of someone who regularly meditates is more resilient and capable of change than the brain of someone who does not meditate;
- Reduces Stress and Burnout: A study published in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Journal found that full-time workers who spent a few hours each week practicing meditation reported a significant decrease in job stress, anxiety, and depressed mood; and
- Feel better: A large body of research has established that the mental and physical benefits of meditation include:
- Decreased blood pressure and hypertension
- Lowered cholesterol levels
- Reduced production of “stress hormones,” including cortisol and adrenaline
- More efficient oxygen use by the body
- Increased production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA and
- Improved immune function.
What lawyer would not benefit from increased concentration, resiliency, calmness, and physical health? None come to mind. Instead, what comes to mind is how lawyers who regularly meditate could have a positive ripple effect in the legal profession. Lawyers who do not let their thoughts get the best of them have the potential to satisfy more clients, their employers, and ultimately themselves.
Time to Exercise the Legal Mind
Now that I have backed up my claim about the benefits of meditation with scientific evidence, it is time for the legal profession to give meditation a try. Take a deep breath; I am not asking you go sit on a mountaintop or under a tree with your legs crossed. What I am asking is that you dedicate five minutes per day to meditate for the next seven days. That is only 35 minutes out of the 10,080 minutes in your week.
Here is what to do:
- Set aside the same five minutes each day for the next seven days. So, it could be when you get up in the morning, at lunch, after work, before bed, etc. Put this in your calendar with a reminder;
- Find a comfortable place to sit. It could be at your desk, your favorite chair at home, etc.;
- Once you have found a comfortable seat, close your eyes or keep them open if that works better for you. Begin to notice your breathing;
- Set the alarm on your phone for 5 minutes and start; and
- For the next 5 minutes, focus on the breath. When you take an inhale, say “inhale” to yourself and when you take an exhale, say “exhale” to yourself.
- If thoughts arise as you meditate, that is ok. Just come back to your breath and focus on the inhale and exhale. You probably will have to do this several times throughout the five minutes and that is totally normal. Remember, you are not trying to “get rid” of all thoughts with mediation; rather, you noticing and managing them.
Experience the Benefits of Meditation
After you finish your five minutes of meditation, see how you feel and whether you experience any benefits of meditation similar to the above scientific findings over the next seven days. If you do, keep going with the meditation. If you don’t, you could keep going and continue to pay attention to the impact or decide it is not for you.
Give it a try. You have nothing to lose. We all regularly spend more than 35 minutes per week on social media or in front of a TV. Break your routine for a week and exercise that legal mind. The benefits of meditation await you. Please share your experiences in the below comment section.