The Mindfulness Initiative organizes retreats, speaker events, conferences, workshops, and weekly meditation sessions throughout the year. Most events are open to students, faculty, staff and alumni.

October 2014

Mindfulness in Law Workshop and Presentation in Amsterdam

Charlie Halpern, Director of the Berkeley Initiative for Mindfulness in Law

University of Amsterdam Faculty of Law, Netherlands

4-6 pm, Oct. 8, 2014

Director Charlie Halpern will present a two-hour workshop at the University of Amsterdam Faculty of Law introducing the practice of mindfulness meditation and its value to lawyers and law students in managing stress, developing concentration, and cultivating emotional intelligence and other skills that contribute to the effectiveness and wellbeing of lawyers. A small group of Dutch lawyers have begun exploring the potential to introduce mindfulness in legal education, and we are hoping this event can help catalyze interest in mindfulness. 

More details in the flyer linked here.

Effective and Sustainable Law Practice: the Meditative Perspective
Charlie Halpern, Director of the Berkeley Initiative for Mindfulness in Law
James Thornton, CEO - ClientEarth
Kings College London School of Law, UK
6:30-8:30 pm, Oct. 20, 2014

Over the last 10 years mindfulness, the practice of meditative, non-judgmental awareness, has been embraced in a range of settings for its numerous psychological and physiological benefits. This session will include an introduction to mindfulness meditation, guided meditations, a discussion of developments in bringing mindfulness into legal education and law practice in the United States. There will be opportunity for questions 
and discussion after the presentations. A reception will follow. 

To register for a place at the event please email

November 2014

Berkeley Law Meditation Retreat
Warren Room, Berkeley Law
9:30 am - 1 pm, November 2, 2014

This half-day retreat, open to all Berkeley Law community members, is a great opportunity to explore a deeper experience of mindfulness, which can be elusive in our busy day-to-day lives. While relatively short, a half-day offers a chance to slow down, rest the mind, and reconnect with an experience of presence -- and to return refreshed to our work and studies.

The retreat will take place 9:30 a.m. - 1 pm in the Warren Room (Simon Hall 295) at Berkeley Law. During the retreat, Charlie Halpern and Dan Carlin will lead the group in mindfulness practices including qi gong, walking meditation, and sitting meditation, as well as mindful discussion. The retreat will be followed by an optional brown bag lunch. To register please click here.


Space is limited, so we encourage you to sign up early! If you have any questions about the retreat, please feel free to email Dan Carlin.

Rethinking Ferguson: Could Mindfulness-Based Practice, Law and Policy Be Part of the Solution?

Rhonda Magee, Visiting Professor - Berkeley Law

Room 132, Berkeley Law

12:45-2 pm, Thursday, Nov. 6

The legal framework for dealing with private and state-sponsored violence rests on longstanding notions of hyper-individualized rights. This framework ignores the structures of relationship that exist in society between individuals, between groups, and between individual and collective(s). These relationships -- e.g., between police and policed, state and citizen, one community and another -- have great significance, and they can give rise to anything from mutual responsibility and empathy to disconnection and distrust. A legal framework for addressing governmental abuses of power that turns a blind eye to this relational reality addresses only a small fraction of the problem, and can therefore lead at best to an incomplete solution. Against this backdrop, it is hardly surprising to see stubborn persistence in abusive police practices, from excessive stops and searches, to racial profiling, and the unjustified use of force. 

In this talk, Professor Magee will discuss how mindfulness meditation -- simple awareness practices, and the expanded consciousness that often results -- leads to greater capacity for emotional self-regulation, empathy, and the realization of our inherent inter-relatedness.  She will explain how mindfulness practice among lawmakers can lead to law and policy that support pro-social interactions between societal actors. When applied to the law and policy governing police practices, mindfulness-based jurisprudence may also promote “flexibility-in-context” on the part of those entrusted with power -- a stance leading to a more just balancing of values such as security and peacekeeping alongside values such as interconnection and empathy.

Empathy and Compassion in Society Conference

Fort Mason Center, San Francisco
Nov. 13-14, 2014

As part of this two-day conference packed with exciting speakers, BIML Director Charlie Halpern will be joined by Sujatha Baliga, Director of the Restorative Justice Program at the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, to discuss how empathy and compassion can be woven into the work of lawyers. Their session takes places 2:30-4 pm on Friday, Nov. 14.

For more information on the Conference and to register visit

Past Events

March 2014

The Lawyer's Brain on Meditation: Insights from Neuroscience 
Emiliana Simon-Thomas, Ph. D, Science Director of the Greater Good Science Center 
March 17, 2014 
Warren Room, Berkeley Law

Dr. Simon-Thomas discussed the effects of meditation on the brain, and how the practice can rewire the brain to improve the wellness, resilience, and effectiveness of lawyers. She also presented results of pilot studies demonstrating these effects among Berkeley Law students who participated in mindfulness-in-law courses.


Finding Calm Amidst Challenges: Mindfulness for Lawyers
Will Kabat-Zinn
March 10, 2014
Warren Room, Berkeley Law

Meditation teacher Will Kabat-Zinn led a meditation session and discussion at Berkeley Law of how mindfulness can help lawyers stay grounded, connected to their values, and present for both the joys and sorrows of life and work.

November 2013

Inner Transformation and Social Change: Reflections on Mindfulness and Social Justice
Angela Harris, Professor of Law - UC Davis
Tirien Steinbach, Executive Director - East Bay Community Law Center
November 4, 2013
Room 110, Berkeley Law

Professor Angela Harris (UC Davis) and Tirien Steinbach ('99), Executive Director of the East Bay Community Law Center, gave a lunchtime presentation on the importance--and challenges--of mindfulness practice in social justice work.

Harris highlighted the apparent tensions between mindfulness and activism, in particular the mindful attitude to "accept things as they are" on the one hand, and the activist's desire to make change. As she and Steinbach explored in a riveting dialogue, a closer look at these apparent tensions reveals that mindfulness offers a crucial balancing force to the outward, striving attitude of the activist, and provides a source of strength to sustain the activist in the long run.

See video here:

October 2013

Mindfulness-based Programming at San Quentin: Turning Violence and Suffering Into Gateways for Learning and Healing
Jacques Verduin, Executive Director - Insight Out
Alton McSween & Dominick Withaker, Community Peacekeepers
Oct. 14, 2013
Room 110, Berkeley Law

Verduin, McSween & Withaker spoke about the transformational, mindfulness-based programs that began more than 15 years ago at San Quentin and whose success has led them to be adopted by several other California prisons. Verduin is the director of Insight-Out, and founder of Insight Prison Project, the organizations that have pioneered these programs. Withaker and McSween have practiced mindfulness at San Quentin and are now Peacekeepers who promote non-violence in their communities.

Video of the talk:

 Click here to view a recent PBS clip featuring Insight Out's work at San Quentin.

(Above left, two men embrace at the graduation ceremony for Insight-Out's year-long, Guiding Rage Into Power program at San Quentin)

Co-sponsored by the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice, Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law, Restorative Justice Center and Human Rights of the Incarcerated Coalition.

March 2013

Mindfulness & Social Justice: Reflections on the Self
john powell, Professor - Berkeley Law and Director - Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society
Tirien Steinbach, Executive Director - East Bay Community Law Center
March 5, 2013
Room 240, Berkeley Law 

Professor john a. powell presented "Mindfulness & Social Justice: Reflections on the Self," a fascinating talk situating mindfulness as a tool for solving the alienation and disconnection at the root of many modern societal problems, particularly racial injustice. You can view the video on YouTube and download Professor powell's presentation here.

February 2013

Discussion of The Dhamma Brothers and Mindfulness in Prisons
Sujatha Baliga, Director, Restorative Justice Project - National Council on Crime & Delinquency
David Onek, Senior Fellow - Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice
Jonathan Simon, Professor - Berkeley Law
Feb. 22, 2013
Room 132, Berkeley Law

On February 22 the Mindfulness Initiative hosted a Working Group on Mindfulness & Criminal Justice, featuring a number of leaders in bringing a meditative perspective into criminal justice work. Read our report here. Later in the day, the Mindfulness Initiative screened "Dhamma Brothers: East Meets West in the Deep South" a documentary about meditation programs in an Alabama maximum security prison. Working Group members Sujatha Baliga, David Onek and Jonathan Simon led an engaging discussion after the film (YouTube) with a sizable audience of students and faculty.

October 2013

Law's Middle Way: Mindfulness and Restorative Justice
Sujatha Baliga, Director - Restorative Justice Project, National Council on Crime and Delinquency
Oct. 22, 2013
Room 100, Berkeley Law

Restorative justice expert Sujatha Baliga came to Berkeley Law on Monday, Oct. 22 to present "Law's Middle Way: Mindfulness and Restorative Justice" as part of the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice's Ruth Chance Lecture series. Click here to access the video from Sujatha's talk.

In her talk, Baliga addressed the value of mindfulness practice in both her prior work as a criminal defense lawyer and in her current role as the Director of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency’s Restorative Justice Project. She discussed the parallel paradigm shifts invited by the practices of mindfulness and restorative justice, as well as the place of forgiveness in restorative processes.

More than 70 people turned out for Sujatha's talk, and engaged in a rich dialogue after her prepared remarks.