Mindful Lawyering

Mindfulness can be described as an intuitive awareness of present-moment experience as distinguished from thought-driven judgments or interpretations about that experience.  Mindfulness refers to a state of being, and as such can only be described, not defined.  Definitions reduce phenomena to static “things.”  Insofar as mindfulness refers to perpetually fleeting present-moment experience, any attempt to reduce mindfulness to a static experience is misguided.

In the context of law practice, mindful lawyering helps clients transcend narrow interpretations of challenging life experiences and embrace a more broad awareness of present-moment reality.

For example, a client facing divorce in which children are involved may, understandably, experience fear of potentially being denied time with his or her children in addition to heightened economic uncertainty.  Most clients facing such a situation, unless they have a developed mindfulness practice, will employ intellectual strategies to “make the fear go away.”  Chief among these strategies is likely to be a decision to retain a lawyer to “fight” and “win” more custody or financial resources.

If the attorney engaged by the client in this scenario lacks a developed mindfulness practice, he or she is likely to approach the situation in a way consistent with traditional legal training.  This traditional training is oriented toward factoring out “feelings,” “emotions,” and similar spiritual components.  As a result, the typical attorney/client interaction usually serves to further cement a cerebral, defensive and aggressive orientation to the client’s situation.  The client is likely to continue experiencing a high level of discomfort and anxiety likely to manifest in aggressive reactions towards the other party/parties, and serve to escalate conflict.

The mindful lawyer is uniquely positioned to interrupt this destructive cycle.  Prior to crafting a concrete legal strategy, the mindful or holistic lawyer can work with the client to more meaningfully ground him/her in present-moment experience, and in the process create some “distance” between this experience and his/her entrenched conditioning and habitual reactions.

As a result of this more mindful approach to lawyering, clients may realize a sense of peace and grounding that has been elusive while trapped in fear-evading, intellectually driven strategies.  It is the heightened connection to present-moment experience that enables clients to realize a felt connection to “life” apart from his or her intellectual narratives about his or her experience.  It is this very connection that gives rise to optimal wisdom and appropriate responses to challenging life situations.

To learn more about mindful lawyering and holistic law practice, visit http://www.Holistic-Lawyer.com or call Holistic Lawyer Michael Lubofsky at (415) 508-6263.

 

The Danger of Labeling Situations

As has been explored throughout the Holistic Law Blog for several years, holistic law practice springs from the premise that legal “problems” frequently provide opportunities for transformational growth.  Most of us value stability and security to the point at which we will resist change unless and until pain – be it psychological or physiological – reaches a certain threshold.  Until we reach that threshold, we may tolerate myriad life situations that fall far short or providing inner peace and happiness, instead opting to perpetuate the familiar.

Then we experience some type of loss, threat to the familiar, or an experience at odds with how we have come to think life “should” or “should not” be.  Such experiences can precipitate fear about the unfolding of future events, and upset to our routines, level of financial security, etc.  This fear may even bring about physiological changes, release of stress hormones, etc., that most of us would interpret as “unpleasant.”

These challenges, however, are compounded when we judge the event or series of events as “bad.”  Construing events in such a way may then fuel a belief that people, or life in general, is/are “unfair.”  In reality, however, these events often provide impetus for transformational change that can significantly deepen one’s happiness and inner peace.

When we label these situations as “bad,” we are essentially freezing life in time.  The  fact is that life will continue to unfold.  The key is how we respond to these particular conditions or circumstances.  Our responses will largely dictate how we look back on these situations in a month, year, five years, etc.  If we latch on to our original temporal assessment that a situation is “bad,” we may also slip into a mindset of helplessness that may choke off any adaptive response to the situation.

Holistic law practice works to help clients deal with legal situations in less reactive and judgmental ways, opening the potential for more adaptive response.  Holistic law counseling helps clients move beyond these conditioned reactions that can lead to feelings of helplessness, and toward far wider possibilities for embracing optimal solutions for all involved in a given conflict.

For more information on holistic law practice, visit http://www.Holistic-Lawyer.com, or call Holistic Lawyer Michael Lubofsky at (415) 508-6263.

Holistic Law and the Emphasis on One’s Relation to Experience

Traditional law practice overlooks unique opportunities for clients to truly improve their lives and the lives of those around them.  The narrow focus of traditional law practice fixates on objective facts to the virtual exclusion of ways in which the parties, and others impacted by conflict, relate to those facts.  The ways in which we relate to our unfolding life experience are largely a function of learned conditioning – the result of accumulated past experience – together with genetic predispositions.

Typically, when a client comes to an attorney for advice, they do so because of some real or perceived loss or threat of loss in their life.  This loss may be economic, physical, or ego-related such as feared loss of community standing or identity.  The reality is that an objective fact or set of facts have arisen in the world of which the client has some awareness.  What will widely differ among individuals is the layer or multitude of layers of meaning that he or she will (usually unconsciously) impose on these factual events or scenarios.  These predispositions, to the extent they remain unconscious, largely dictate the ways in which we relate to life experience.

Because legal conflict so often gives rise to these layers of unconscious relation to experience, it presents an ideal opportunity to explore a client’s conditioning and habitual ways of relating to experience.  The failure to explore these tendencies at particularly challenging times is likely to result in these tendencies becoming increasingly solidified in the client’s life.  Because traditional law practice largely ignores these underlying dynamics, clients far more often than not look back on their “legal problems”  with disdain, representing just one in a long series of frustrations resulting from their habitual relation to experience in more or less unconscious ways.

Holistic law practice stresses the transformative potential in conflict.  The holistic lawyer acknowledges and explores with the client his or her ways of relating to past and present experience that may have brought about or exacerbated the “legal problem.”  Often, when these previously unconscious orientations are explored, clients become able to let go of these tendencies and see more clearly the nature of what has happened and what is happening, and deal with it in a far more compassionate and less reactive manner.  More importantly, the client comes to realize that his or her future behavior need not be dictated by conditioned thinking and habitual reactions.

To learn more about holistic law practice, contact Holistic Lawyer Michael Lubofsky by calling (415) 508-6263 or by visiting http://www.Holistic-Lawyer.com.

Legal Conflict and Inherent Unsatisfactoriness

To a significant degree, our counterproductive reactions to most situations involving conflict are a function of the extent to which we cling to inaccurate views of the nature of life.  A primary Buddhist teaching relates to the truth of suffering and the inherent unsatisfactoriness of existence.  This “unsatisfactoriness” is often manifested in the impermanence, pain and perpetual incompleteness intrinsic to all forms of life.

In modern American society, most of us have lived with decades of pervasive conditioning that life should provide us with lasting “happiness.”  In order to successfully promote goods, services, ideas, etc., the idea of happiness continued in these messages promises some perpetual state of bliss devoid of pain and suffering.

Problems begin to surface when we come to internalize this notion of “happiness” to a point at which we unconsciously accept these messages as truth.  Once this misguided idea of the nature of reality has been adopted, we are well positioned for highly charged reactions to life situations that do not square with these internalized ideals.

Almost invariably, situations arise that are painful.  These situations involve loss in the form of relationships, material acquisitions, physical health, and eventually life itself.  One’s refusal to accept these realities of existence will eventually cause one to react to conflict either by simply denying reality inherent in the situation, or by pushing back in a futile effort to manipulate reality so as to make these situations “go away.”

This type of reactionary behavior and denial can be extremely unhelpful and damaging when facing legal conflict.  Defensive reactions aimed at preserving egoic ideals of how life “should be” can effectively sever one from an ability to open up to a wider, more holistic view of the situation at hand.  Viewing the situation from such a constrained vantage point will usually preclude identification of optimal solutions to conflict.

The integration of mindfulness with law practice offers the potential of moving beyond one’s conditioning that life should not include suffering.  In so doing, people involved in legal conflict may become far better able to identify and implement optimal solutions that can serve to fundamentally improve their lives long after concrete legal issues have been resolved.

To learn more about the transformational potential of holistic law practice, contact Attorney Michael Lubofsky at (415) 508-6263, or visit his holistic law and mediation website at http://www.Holistic-Lawyer.com.

Moving Beyond Divisiveness

In the current U.S. election, Donald J. Trump has campaigned on the slogan “Make America Great Again.”  The policies espoused by Mr. Trump as a roadmap to this “greatness” largely pit one faction against another, implying that his vision of “greatness” is necessarily dependent on the exclusion of others from this vision.

In addition, Mr. Trump has projected an immorality largely oblivious to the rule of law.  For example, when questioned on business practices that may have allowed him to avoid the payment of personal income taxes, perhaps for decades, he blames loopholes in the system, as if the system should be a dictator and enforcer of morality.

Stepping back from the candidates, however, what can become apparent is the energy with which a majority of the U.S. population is rejecting Mr. Trump’s underlying message.  The goal of this message appears to be to instill fear in as many people as possible as a means of garnering support for his divisive plans.

When we are in fear, our world becomes small, and our vision narrow.  We are triggered to acquire and even hoard what we can, even at the expense of others.

But we are on the cusp of a new consciousness that recognizes the importance of letting go of fear as a necessary precursor to building a sustainable, healthy society.  As a result of heightened mindfulness, increasing numbers of people are becoming experientially attuned to the reality that fear-driven behavior usually precipitates a downward spiral that destroys relationships, societies, and even life itself.

This fear-driven dynamic is also perpetuated by adversarial litigation.  When enmeshed in narrow fears, litigants clutch for whatever award they might realize.  This myopia operates largely to the exclusion of the interests of a much more broad circle of stakeholders.  Any decision made or action taken on such a basis is likely to be far less than optimal and actually harm relationships and society as a whole.

Holistic law practice, by rejecting the underlying notion of divisiveness inherent in adversarial litigation, is moving in step with our heightened societal mindfulness that has fueled much of the opposition to Mr. Trump’s divisive messages.

To learn more about how holistic law practice can help identify optimal solutions to conflict, please contact Holistic Lawyer Michael Lubofsky at http://www.Holistic-Lawyer.com, or by calling (415) 508-6263.

Mindfulness: Beyond Stress Relief and Towards a Better World

Like most people who find their way to mindfulness practice, I did so many years ago in efforts to find more sustainable solutions to dealing with stress as a driven, young attorney in my late twenties.  In what was an early incarnation of what is now called mindfulness-based stress reduction, or MBSR, I did find that by becoming more mindful of my breath, I could slow down my heart rate.  The ability to do this seemed to give me a sense of relief that, up until that time, I may have thought would have only been available from solutions existing outside of myself in the form of food, drink, other people, etc.

I had no awareness or knowledge at that time of any sort of template for living in a way that could potentially transform that sense of relief into deep, sustainable inner peace.  Even if such a template had been presented to me at that time, I would have thought it to be so contrary to my priorities that it would have been quickly dismissed.

For years, actually decades, I continued to practice meditation almost solely for the physiological relief it afforded me from the typical stressors of contemporary American life.  For a good deal of this time, however, I pretty much continued thinking and acting consistent with conditioning I had internalized through my formative years.  This conditioning, I can now appreciate in retrospect, had forged a strong egoic identity that was largely impermeable to the notion that I might look upon life in fundamentally different ways.

But as will often happen as we get older, life has ways of humbling just about everyone.  Over time, we amass wisdom of experience that may, at some point, serve to penetrate the ego and open us to new ways of thinking and being in the world.  Once this door is opened, we can begin trying new ways of orienting towards life experience.  We can begin to let go of maladaptive strategies and behaviors.  We can walk out into life with an open sense of wonder and begin to experiment with new ways of being that would have previously been too threatening to the ego.

At this point, through trial and error, as well as with the benefit of wisdom from others who have walked this path over millennia, we can come to identify specific ways of being and acting in the world that actually deepen our inner peace for beyond stress relief.  What is most amazing, though, is finding that those ways of being and behaving that most foster inner peace are actually those ways of being and behaving that help others, make the world more compassionate, promote health and well-being, reduce waste, promote sustainability, constructively resolve conflict, etc.

Even as an experienced practitioner, however, I encounter times when my conditioning, together with societal norms, cause me to question the purpose or value of sustaining a spiritual practice beyond “stress reduction.”  After all, much of what is required is contrary to behaviors that are “valued” in contemporary American society.

The answer to this question, though, I have come to view as the ultimate win/win scenario.  What I have found is that the behaviors and ways of being in the world that help others and actually treat the world in a far more sustainable way are actually the behaviors that provide me with inner peace and clarity.  When venturing out into the world with this foundation, life becomes far more interesting as behavior is not driven and limited by egoic notions of how life “should” be.

To learn more about the benefits of mindfulness practice, especially as applied to legal disputes and conflict resolution, please contact Holistic Lawyer Michael Lubofsky at (415) 508-6263, or visit http://www.Holistic-Lawyer.com.

 

The Importance of Compassion in Effective Dispute Resolution

An increasing number of studies point towards the integral role that compassion and empathy for others plays in cultivating happiness and well-being. Compassion arises from a felt connection to all of life in the present moment. Compassion lies beyond thoughts and preconceived notions about a person or a given situation.

The typical adversarial approach to conflict resolution that pervades contemporary civil justice in America is rarely effective in cultivating compassion and/or empathy. Instead, one’s thought-driven notions of how things should be most often form the basis of an attorney’s litigation strategy.

Such a failure to elicit compassion and empathy can explain why, far more often than not, legal or “courtroom” victories ring hollow for a prevailing party soon after a fleeting sense of ego gratification dissipates.

In contrast to this prevailing adversarial model, holistic law practice has as a primary objective the cultivation of compassion and empathy prior to the development and implementation of a concrete legal strategy. A fundamental precept inherent in the holistic approach is that optimal, lasting solutions to interpersonal conflict arise from beyond ego, thought, and preconceived notions.

To learn more about holistic law practice, contact Holistic LawyerMichael Lubofsky at (4-5) 508-6263, or visit http://www.mindfulaw.com.

The Overemphasizing of Intellect and Importance of Meditation for Lawyers

Human beings have succeeded in evolving as a species largely as a result of unparalleled intellect and problem-solving faculties.  Our abilities to scan our environment for danger, conceive of and implement creative solutions, and learn from our experience have enabled us to thrive on this planet.  We have also been programmed with an internal reward system that produces positive affect when gaining mastery over one’s environment that, arguably, has provided us with sustained motivation to continue to strive for mastery, even long after our basic needs have been met.

This pursuit of environmental mastery, however, has come to dominate behavior is a way that has led to humans perceiving themselves as separate from life as a whole.  This, in turn, has led to an evolutionary point at which humans have begun to destroy fundamental aspects of life, including the physical environment.

What is now critical is that we as a species learn to subordinate our unprecedented intellect to conscious awareness of, and connection to, all of life of which we are all an integral part – not separate actors.  It is the heightening of this consciousness and connection to present-moment experience that can be realized and cultivated through mindfulness and meditation practice.

As a profession, this evolution of consciousness is especially critical to attorneys.  In their primary role of facilitating the resolution of human conflict, lawyers are in a unique position to instigate change that can help move us forward as a species harmoniously with life of which we are all a part.  In the continued absence of this consciousness, civil conflict and criminal behavior will continue to be addressed in ways likely to perpetuate undesirable behavior and further deterioration of the world around us.

My mindfulness and meditation for lawyers programs work to heighten consciousness of lawyers that can lead to not only a more healthy and sustainable society, but to personal transformation for attorneys that can begin to reverse a trend of deep professional dissatisfaction and escalating substance abuse that has persisted in the legal profession for decades.  To learn more about meditation for lawyers, please call Michael Lubofsky at (415) 508-6263, or visit http://www.holistic-lawyer.com.

Rethinking The Role of Attorneys in Society

For centuries, the function of attorneys in American society has been primarily defined by an ethical obligation to zealously represent clients within proscribed evidentiary and procedural guidelines aimed at eliciting “truth” and, ultimately, some ephemeral notion of “justice.” The more broad notion that attorneys should work towards the overall betterment of society has been subordinated to the ethical obligation to advance the interests of individual clients.

The more broad role in moving society forward in more sustainable directions refers not simply to offering inexpensive legal services to the financially underprivileged, but rather to working to address fundamentally flawed orientations to life that contribute to an overwhelming percentage of legal conflicts and criminal behavior.

Most attorneys may read about serving the more holistic needs of clients and respond that such issues fall within the purview of psychologists, clergy, or spiritual counselors. A law practice that emphasizes mindful awareness of present-moment experience, however, is uniquely positioned to offer fundamental, lasting changes to clients in the context of resolving problematic real-life situations, whereas the work of psychologists and spiritual counselors is often conducted in a more abstract, experiential vacuum.

The historically fundamental failure of attorneys to help move society forward and truly help resolve problematic behavior has become patently obvious to society at large. Our system is broken largely as a result of our flawed definition of the role of attorneys as usually little more than “advocates” in a fundamentally misguided “adversarial system” of justice. The term “justice” in itself, embraces a dualistic concept of “right” and “wrong” that serves to drive society in more polarized directions, doing little to promote healing and more desirable, sustainable outcomes.

In time, society will either embrace a more mindful approach towards conflict resolution, or continue to fracture by individual motives driven by self-interest. If attorneys can come to redefine their roles, however, as agents of a fundamental shift towards heightening mindful awareness of present-moment experience in the face of some of life’s most challenging situations, attorneys may begin to truly help move society in more positive, sustainable directions.

To learn more about incorporating mindfulness in law practice, contact Michael Lubofsky at (415) 508-6263, or visit http://www.mindfulaw.com. We also offer professional coaching to attorneys interested in incorporating mindfulness into their individual practices.