The Mindfulness Blog

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God Forbid

Imagine if, God forbid, the troubled municipal worker in Virginia Beach was a lawyer, and the municipal building in which the latest mass shooting occurred was a law firm. Again, I say, God forbid.

But really? It could happen, and nobody would be surprised. Shocked? Sure. Dismayed? Without a doubt. Emotionally scarred? Absolutely. Surprised? I don't think so.

Well-being turns out to be a lot more complicated than people might think. And mental health is much more multi-faceted thing than most of us care to contemplate. It's specific. And it's very real. Just ask the men and women who have survived a tragic mental health event.

All of that said, my focus is on the 99%-plus of the legal profession who are not candidates for the kind of confused meltdown that attends, or precedes, the mass shooting of one's co-workers. For every one of us who may descend into that place where we act upon an impulse to remove others from the face of the earth, there are thousands of others who are feeling funky, but keep it to themselves.

How should we deal with those of us who are in that 99%-plus? How best to address what I refer to as "soft" emotional challenges, as opposed to "hard" emotional challenges? Trained experts (of which I am not one) will say, it's complicated. Respectfully, I don't agree.

Liability and worse-case scenarios are things we lawyers are trained to think about, long and hard. But book learning, formal analysis and legal precedent have their limitations. Isn't there also a place for common sense, particularly in matters of mental health? I believe there is.

Common sense tells me that we in the legal profession need to pay as much attention to "soft" emotional challenges--the everyday stresses and strains--as we do to "hard" emotional challenges, like addiction or medically diagnosed depression. And even though I'm not a trained professional, I see "soft" challenges as fertile soil for later-developing "hard" challenges. I'm not sure what the science is to support that, but I have a feeling it may just be supportive.

That's where mindfulness and meditation come into play. Neither are a panacea for everything that ails us, but it behooves all of us to be more proactive in both awareness and action when it comes to dealing with mental health--starting with the "healthy" among us.

Let's recognize not only the pressing importance of mental health, but also, the wisdom of common sense in dealing with matters of the mind and/or emotion. While we're at it, let's take care of both the "unhealthy" and the "healthy" among us.

And let's act, before a work rage incident visits itself upon the legal profession!

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