Mindfulness is a buzzword that is likely to be heard around the office for many years to come. Yet, even though we’re all aware of mindfulness (and its benefits), we often find ourselves too busy to practise elements of it that are likely to have a positive effect, not only on our physical and mental health, but also on our career.
With the advances in AI, and automation of basic legal tasks, it has become essential that lawyers look towards developing skills that differentiate them from automatons – in other words, we need to cultivate our ‘humanness’.
The benefits of mindfulness, for law firms, lawyers and clients, are exponential when we utilise mindfulness within our work; everyday activities become important, and can create dynamic change within the industry.
Clients report more satisfaction when dealing with lawyers who understand their perspective and show empathy for their views. Law firms experience a lift in moral, success and productivity. And, lawyers find themselves better able to cope with the demands of the job, are less anxious, and generally more content, when mindfulness is utilised on a daily basis.
If you are struggling to find the time, or inclination, to apply mindfulness within your work and life, the following 3 points will give you the motivation to get started…
1. Five Minute Fix
It has been suggested by medical experts that, after completing a task every day for 21 consecutive days, you create new neural pathways which turn the task into a habit, and strengthen your brain function.
Finding five minutes each day to observe a ‘mindful moment’ could be the start of something great.
Try to set a time that you can stick to each day, for instance, before turning on your computer at work, or immediately after returning to your desk from lunch. Use these five minutes to centre yourself in the moment – focus on breathing in through your nose, down into your stomach, and slowly exhaling through your mouth. Let your thoughts wander where they will; emotions will pass over you and sensations arise without you attaching any importance to them.
Sit back, relax, and appreciate your stillness for a few minutes each day until it becomes second nature.
This skill, once mastered, can be used in any stressful moment; when faced with antagonistic clients, a difficult negotiation, or just in the traffic on the way home from the office. When you gain command of your mind and emotions you can interact in a diplomatic way, inspiring confidence.
2. Thankful Thoughts
Another way to approach mindfulness throughout your day is to incorporate a ‘thankful thoughts’ routine, daily.
This is usually best completed at the end of the day, and is done by reflecting upon two or three things that you experienced within that day and for which you can find some reason to be grateful.
For instance, if you were dealing with a particularly difficult client, but managed to answer their questions, resolve their problem or win their case, then use this as the basis for your thankfulness. Allow the pleasant feeling of success to flow through your mind and body, enjoy the sensation that the emotion brings and then move onto the next item for which you are thankful.
This should only take a few minutes and can be done at the end of your working day in your office, on the commute home, or once you are in bed.
Lawyers that feel gratitude towards their work, their colleagues, and their clients are more likely to be satisfied, fulfilled and happy.
3. Supportive Spaces
No matter how fantastic a lawyer you are, you can’t do everything on your own. Finding a supportive space, where you can share your experiences with like-minded people, is a great way to encourage others, deepen your own learning, and develop new friendships.
Consider starting a mindfulness group in your office that meets at regular intervals, or find a group to join outside of work, in your local community.
Generating an awareness of mindfulness in others can bring about a sense of community within the workplace, increasing job satisfaction and productivity.
Where possible, create a space within your firm’s building that is designated as an area of mindfulness and relaxation. Use aromatherapy oils, meditative music, and objects or art that reflect peace and tranquillity, to create a place where people can gather together or alone for a few minutes of reflection each day.
If an entire room is out of the question, you can still create an area on your desk that is dedicated to mindfulness and this will help to keep you centred.
The above points will only get you started on the path to mindfulness, but if you can incorporate them into daily routines you will soon start to notice the benefits.
While introducing mindfulness into the workplace may seem like a colossal task initially, once others notice the small changes you make, and the benefits, you may soon find yourself with offers of help. Personal change, then one-to-one and face-to-face, is the way that we can invoke change within ourselves, others and the law industry at large.