Mindfulness and the Law: The Law and Mindfulness

There is a natural tendency among many of us to think that the legal profession will benefit from a strong dose of mindfulness and that, perhaps in time its growing presence in the law will transform the law. I suspect this is true.
It is not often that the opposite is considered as well; namely, that mindfulness will benefit from the law. The law is a system that evolved out of chaos. Mindfulness is a practice that recognizes the presence of chaos amid a larger body of wisdom and compassion. The law, at its best, offers members of society compassion and wisdom to heal wounds and minimize the suffering that can arise out of chaos.
It can be easy to look to contemplative practices as a vehicle to escape the chaos — as opposed to work with it. A great many practitioners talk about finding peace and relaxation. It is as if the objective is to eliminate the stress and the pain. Many of us, even if we feel this way, also recognize the larger perspective.
The law grapples with chaos constantly. Suffering is evident in the law--across the many contexts in which it is applied. Mindfulness will make its mark early on by helping those in the legal profession see more clearly their own suffering and offer a path to greater clarity and well-being. As it does, lawyers and others in the profession will find a greater spaciousness to bring about more just and present outcomes. This will require keen awareness and courage in the midst of struggle.
I believe that as more lawyers integrate mindfulness into their practice, and begin to interact with with more mindfulness practitioners, it will help transform much of the ways that mindfulness is considered, explored and practiced.
(originally published April 23, 2010).