Why Mindfulness in Law?
Mindfulness meditation is a simple practice of paying attention to our moment-by-moment experience. While the benefits of meditation have been understood for centuries, recent studies in neuroscience and psychology confirm that regular practice increases the ability to concentrate, enhances perceptual acuity and resolution, and increases one’s ability to be make empathic connections with others and to be present with challenging situations. It's also good for us. Meditation reduces stress, increases immune response, and according to recent research may actually lead to longer life span. Not to mention that it increases positive emotions.
These benefits should be of interest to anyone, but they are of special interest to lawyers and law students, who face constant challenges: intellectually-demanding work, stressful situations, difficult emotions, and lately, financial uncertainty due to upheaval in the profession. Mindfulness has the potential to alleviate these difficulties. It offers tremendous benefits to individuals, from stress relief to increased professional effectiveness and greater life satisfaction. But over time, we also believe it can lead to a healthier, more just and compassionate legal system. As more lawyers embrace mindfulness, we expect to see legal processes and institutions become less adversarial, to cause less suffering, and to produce more compassionate and effective laws and policies. We are very early in the application of mindfulness to law, but already are beginning to see its tremendous potential in such realms as criminal justice, legislation, drug policy, and legal education.
In this brief video clip, Charlie Halpern, Director of the Berkeley Initiative for Mindfulness in Law, discusses how the Mindfulness Initiative was created and why mindfulness is important for lawyers and law students: