March April 20 Report

I recently released a series of guided meditation exercises for lawyers under the name Legally Mindful. I choose the phrase “Changing Your Mind About Meditation” as the tagline for Legally Mindful for a number of reasons. In this article, I want to address a couple of the misconceptions people have about starting and maintaining a meditation practice, and why many of you must change your mind about meditation to be successful and enjoy the obvious physical and mental health benefits associated with a meditation practice. As many of you likely know, there is an increased focus within our profession on improving the health and well-being of attor- neys following the publication of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being report 1 in 2017. One of the foun- dational pillars for improving overall lawyer well-being mentioned in the Task Force report is mindful meditation. The Task Force reported, “Research has found that mindfulness can reduce rumination, stress, depression, and anxiety. It also can enhance a host of competencies related to lawyer effectiveness, including increased focus and concentration, working memory, critical cognitive skills, reduced burnout, and ethical and rational decision-making.” That is an extremely strong endorsement of meditation by the ABA. While the benefits of meditation are undeniable, many people still resist meditation because they likely have misconceptions about the difficulty of starting a practice or the concern as to the time involved before any meaningful benefits frommeditation are realized. Let me address these two misconceptions based on my experience using a non-traditional meditation approach. First, starting a meditation practice doesn’t have to be difficult. When I first started meditating, I used the traditional approach of sitting quietly and following my breath and letting my thoughts pass through me without judging them. As I started this practice, I was never confident I was “doing it right” and I did not medi- tate often enough to notice or feel suffi- cient benefit from my time to make meditation a priority in my life. As a result, I didn’t put in the time I needed to experience what I thought I should for the time invested. That all changed after I first experienced sound-assisted meditation. I attended a meditation workshop that used guided meditations with a sound wave technology “behind” the guid- By Gary Powell Changing Your Mind About Meditation Meditation literally changes your brain. Research shows that meditation leads to an increase in brain mass in parts of your brain relating to executive function, including your working memory, emotional control, sustained attention, and time management. 10 l March/April 2020 CBA REPORT Balanced Living