Using Mindfulness as a Competitive Advantage in the Law

02/04/2016 04:38 pm ET Updated Feb 04, 2017
Asian businesswoman sitting on table and meditating
Asian businesswoman sitting on table and meditating

The mind of a lawyer is a wonderful tool, a tool that we employ so often that we often burn it out. We know that lawyer burnout is a real thing that has negatively impacted lawyers in numerous ways. Learning how to meditate or become mindful (a form of meditation) has been proven to have health benefits, but most importantly this type of training can empower and instill confidence. It can build a level of resilience that is extremely beneficial.

As a kid, I was anxious. I did not know what it was, but I felt a buzzing undercurrent in my life that was ignited whenever I felt disliked or alone. I hated that buzz and did what I could to overcompensate to drown out the noise. I cared too much what others thought about me. I gave too much. I had a hard time being alone. I wasted a lot of time trying to find things outside myself to quiet the buzz inside of me, never once understanding that those negative feelings could be silenced by turning inward, instead of outward.

Then on top of it, I became a lawyer. The law is one of those professions where you can succeed, on a superficial sense, by being dysfunctional. Anger, fear, cynicism can help create a successful lawyer, but those emotions inevitably take their toll. They take you up - like a sugar rush - but then they drop you hard, leaving you to wonder why this profession creates pain instead of joy inside of you.

Law can also take its toll on your relationships. You often find yourself 'lawyering' people, knowing how to win every conversation, which isn't the point of conversation, but we do it out of habit, losing people along the way.

This seesaw lawyer life from being too nice to being too snide was me until I truly found some peace with a regular practice of meditation. For me, that could mean anything from practicing silence, reading spiritual books, writing in a journal or listening to guided meditations. I don't know how it works completely. I just know that it does.

Rather than explain the unexplainable, let me share some of the results of my mediation. Sometimes, it isn't daily. Sometimes, I just don't want to do what is good for me. Yoga, exercise, cutting the second glass of wine, but even knowing that meditation is the practice that leads me to all of the other good stuff, at times I am still daunted. Nonetheless, I start again and attempt to string along a few days of meditation, and even throw in a few double days, and my life changes profoundly.

The internal buzz of anxiety that accompanies the practice of law, if not silenced, is quieted. My choices appear more clear, which way to turn seems more obvious.

I detach more easily from what I can't control, like opposing counsel, or a judge, or the facts. I remember more easily. I forgive more quickly. My intuition improves. I pay attention more and listen better. I interrupt less. I attract the right thing and right person at exactly the right time. My words are more kind and I express gratitude with more ease. Basically, I make the space that I inhabit a little better for me and consequently for others.

What's more, the results spill over into the practice of law like a Hawaiian waterfall, tranquil but constant. The truth is easier to see and feel. If it weren't such a lovely practice, I would call it a secret weapon. It transforms the practice from one of tedium to one of purpose. At least for me, it does. That is why I practice it, preach it and study it. Being a meditating lawyer may be 'outside the box,' but who wants to be in a box anyway?

Janice Brown -- a practicing attorney and founder of Brown Law Group and owner of another business, Beyond Law -- teaches lawyers how to create abundance with ease, using tools like meditation.