has been shown to reduce this residue
on simple tasks.”
Mindfulness also increases working memory capacity.
is linked to creativity and divergent
and convergent thinking,
12 and better
insight problem solving.
Emotional regulation and empathy
Humans are driven by their emotions.
With regular mindfulness practice, we
learn to observe these feelings and also
the narrative that accompany them.
Additionally, we begin to see that our
emotions have a lifecycle. Even uncomfortable and strong emotions such as
anger will pass with time. Mindfulness
allows us to recognize that these emotional states aren’t permanent and learn
to take a friendlier stance toward them.
Mindfulness appears to shorten the
emotional lifecycle14 and speed recovery
from negative emotions.
Taking a non-judgmental stance
toward ourselves in meditation has a
ripple effect into our life. It’s easy to
become overly self-critical, and hold
ourselves to unrealistic standards. By
recognizing these habitual patterns, we
can begin to take a more measured and
appropriate stance. This then opens the
possibility of taking a gentler stance
There is a specific meditation practice
called Metta, where we wish ourselves and others well. A study from
Stanford University found that after the
Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT)
program, a nine-week, twice daily
compassion meditation, participants
experienced reduced mind wandering
for unpleasant thoughts and increased
mind wandering to pleasant thoughts.
In both instances, participants were
found to have increased caring behavior
for oneself and for others.
Perhaps the most studied impact of
mindfulness is on the stress response.
Mindfulness has been shown to dampen
stress reaction (less elevated cortisol)
as well as faster recovery to baseline
levels (Brown, K. W. et al., 2012. Trait
mindfulness modulates neuroendo-
crine and affective responses to evalu-
ative threat. Psychoneuroendocrinology,
Mindfulness has also been associated
with neuroplasticity, including shrink-
ing the amygdala whose primary role is
processing memory, decision-making,
and emotional reactions. Mindfulness
training is also linked to alterations in
brain regions associated with attention,
memory, self, and emotion regulation
(Fox, K. C. R. et al., 2014. Is meditation
associated with altered brain structure?
Neuroscience & Biobehaviroral Reviews,
In a 2010 study published in
Consciousness and Cognition Journal,
researchers assigned 24 people in the
intervention group. They received four
sessions of mindfulness meditation
training. The control had 25 people,
and this group listened to an audio
book. Results indicated that both the
mindfulness meditation training group
and the control group showed an
improved mood, but only the mindful-
ness meditation training group showed
reduced fatigue and anxiety. Moreover,
brief mindfulness training signifi-
cantly improved visuospatial process-
ing, working memory, and executive
functioning. Researchers concluded:
Why should you meditate?
Stress or anxiety management — Many people begin meditation
as a means of managing stress or anxiety, and perhaps this
is an even greater motivator for lawyers than for others, since
stress is such a defining aspect of our professional lives.
Increasing focus and productivity — Our computers, laptops, phones,
iPads, e-readers, and myriad other devices can make us more productive,
but they also enable continual interruptions. These never-ending
sources of distraction can leave us frayed and can even undermine
our fundamental ability to pay attention. Many professionals take
up meditation as an antidote to help navigate the disruption that is
part of the modern working world without sacrificing efficiency.
Letting go of unwanted habits — Meditation is often a crucial
support for people who are giving up habits like smoking,
overeating, and other behaviors that don’t serve them well.
Dealing with difficult events — Tragedy strikes all of us at one point
or another, and its timing is not something we choose. Dealing with
a sad event or a challenging time in one’s life is often the catalyst for
beginning a meditation practice. Meditation can feel right at this time,
both because it can be calming and soothing and because it can help us
connect with the deeper questions that can arise in these situations.
Seeking meaning and self-knowledge — We all want to know why we’re
here and what our lives are about. This inquiry may come up as a need to
understand our deeper purpose, or better define our values. We may feel
we want to see reality more clearly, without the fog of neurosis and self-deception that we suspect separates us from the world as it really is.
Adopted from The Anxious Lawyer.