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Law Student Wellness

Law school is different.

Learning

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

Offered as HIH 203 through USM. Search Maine Street classes under the subject Holistic & Integrative Health.

Mindful Mondays

On hiatus.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness simply means bring your awareness to the present moment, observing what is happening around you and within you, without judgment. It is the opposite of being distracted, having fragmented attention, and reacting out of habit. Mindfulness takes practice, and seated meditation is a highly effective form of the practice. Meditation helps to cultivate the skill of mindfulness, which you can use anywhere, anytime.

Why mindfulness?

Mindfulness meditation has been practiced for thousands of years by many traditions and cultures. In more recent years, it has been the subject of extensive study and research, the findings of which confirm it can be useful for the following:

  • stress reduction
  • pain management
  • anxiety management
  • focus & concentration
  • self-awareness
  • resilience
  • cultivating compassion towards oneself and others
  • responding more skillfully to situation rather than acting out of habit

One can easily see how those benefits would be important for the study and practice of law. In fact, the practice of mindfulness among lawyers, judges, and law students has been growing significantly. It's being taught in schools at all levels, company wellness programs, the military, prisons and juvenile detention facilities, and in special programs for law enforcement and crisis workers. It is also a component of many forms of psychotherapy and other aspects of medicine.

What is mindful breathing?

Mindfulness of breathing simply means resting your awareness with your breath and the sensations of the breath, one breath at a a time. This practice also serves as a good foundation for many practice variations as well.

We use the breath as our focus for a few reasons. Breathing is done without effort, it is something we're all good at, and perhaps most importantly, each breath you take is happening in the present moment. If you're paying attention to your breath as it happens, you're unquestionably in the present moment. If you're paying attention to your breath, you're unquestionably in the present. You're not thinking about the prior breath or the next breath . . . only this breath.

You'll likely find that you're not able to maintain your attention on your breath for that long. . . it will drift off to other thoughts, mundane ones, planning, memories, etc. That's fine. One you notice your mind wandering, don't judge yourself or your mind. Simply notice that your attention has been drawn away, gently release the thought (or sensation, sound, emotion, whatever it is), and bring your awareness back to the breath. That is the practice. The key is not to see the drifting mind as a problem or a failing, but rather as an opportunity to bring your awareness back, thereby cultivating the skill of mindfulness.


In the press


Recommended by Professor Deirdre Smith:

 

Books

are on the Bookshelf tab.

Articles

Mindfulness and Well-Being (pdf), Trial Magazine (March 2018)

How Mindfulness Changed My Life: A Law Student's Story, GSU News (April 2018)

Scholarly Articles

Making the Case for Mindfulness and the Law, Rhonda McGee, 68 NW Lawyer 18 (2014) (see librarian)

The Benefits of Mindfulness for Litigators, Jan Jacobowitz, 39 Litigation 1 (2013)

Educating Lawyers to Meditate?, Rhonda McGee, 79 UMKC L. Rev. 535 (2011)

Mindfulness Online