An important skill that develops through mindfulness practice is learning to discern between thoughts that are useful and warrant our attention, and those that are unhelpful, yet absorb our attention.
Scott Rogers, M.S., J.D., is a nationally recognized leader in the area of mindfulness in law and founded and directs the University of Miami School of Law’s Mindfulness in Law Program where he teaches mindful ethics, mindful leadership, and mindfulness in law. In a recent article, he quoted Attorney Douglas Chermak, a longtime mindfulness practitioner, as follows:
In practicing mindfulness, we work on cultivating the capacity to be simply aware of our thoughts and mental activity — just knowing that the thoughts are happening, without getting fixated on their content or needing to figure them out. By practicing sitting, breathing, and watching our thoughts, we begin to see that at some level we don’t really have any control over them. They just come and go, on their own. By spending time observing this process, we develop greater mastery over momentary activity of the mind and are less likely to feel hostage to our thoughts.
. . . Through mindfulness practice, you become aware that thoughts are arising and continuing to surface, but instead of tackling them, you maintain awareness on the breath and notice the thoughts, and other mental activity, as they come and go.
I recommend setting aside some time each day to practice the kind of breath awareness exercise I mentioned above. In time, you’ll more fully appreciate that you are in charge, rather than the problem being in charge of you.1
The practice of mindfulness can be a great help to anyone, especially members of the legal profession.
1 Portions of this blog were taken from: Rogers, Scott. “The Mindful Lawyer”. The Florida Bar News. Sept 1, 2017. Retrieved from: https://www.floridabar.org/news/tfb-news/