The pieces authored by the six columnists who were asked to write about tension in WSJ magazine were diverse, and engaging: Tension in architecture. Tension in music. Tension in books and movies. Tension in nature and tension in the decision-making process. None of the pieces, however, focused on the practice of law, or any other profession-- curious!
Query: What is the tension that inhibits the legal profession (and most other professions) from taking mindfulness and meditation seriously, as components of a workplace well-being program? Why the resistance to addressing mental/emotional aspects of the mind/body health concern, in the face of ever-increasing scientific and academic studies that corroborate the bona fides of those practices?
I would suggest two explanations--one individual, and one institutional. Individually, the culprit is the innate sense of infallibility that we lawyers are encouraged to cultivate, and possess. Institutionally, the culprit is a lot more simple--time. Time is measurable, and therefore (as the saying goes), it's manageable.
Limiting this post to lawyers, I first address the issue of individual infallibility--a quality that I personally know all-too-well. Sure, we are required to go to law school and pass the bar exam, but those experiences only solidify the personal qualities that we develop in our youth. Most of us lawyers tend to self-select.
By extension, our legal institutions tend to be rather inflexible and--quite ironically--are not exactly people oriented. So, we have a bunch of "bullet-proof" individuals, who band together with other "bullet-proof" individuals, to form institutions that value money and the time it takes to make money, as opposed to valuing the people who make up our profession. That's what I call a model for success--and a whole lot of tension!
The tension in the legal profession that frowns upon mindfulness and meditation as important components of well-being, is a tension that dehumanizes our profession, and cultivates a fealty to time (time is money).
How best to remedy the situation? Create a program to educate and familiarize lawyers with both mindfulness and meditation, dedicate an empty office to facilitate voluntary quiet time and "doing nothing", and create a policy that allows lawyers an internal credit toward their monthly/annual time requirements.
Let's rehumanize our profession, rather than dehumanize it. And while we're at it, maybe we can adjust some of the tensions that exist in the legal profession!