The Mindfulness Blog

subscribe to RSS feeds

« back to all blogs

Turning Minds To Ash

The phenomenon of workplace burnout, has been getting a lot of attention, over the past several months ( See, January 2019 post re: the World Health Organization and Mayo Clinic press releases).

As described by psychologist, Josh Cohen, in an edition of 1843 magazine (published by The Economist ), "Burnout involves the loss of the capacity to relax--to 'just do nothing'. It prevents an individual from embracing ordinary pleasures...that induce calm and contentment".

As noted in that same article, some companies (including law firms) have attempted to address the burnout concern by offering meditation training sessions. None, to my knowledge, have yet instituted any kind of regular program--to date, the approach to mindfulness and the practice of meditation has been mostly through what I characterize as "one-off" sessions, which do little to facilitate a regular practice, or encourage a long-term attitudinal change.

One suggested challenge to facilitating workplace meditation (as envisioned by the author), "is that it becomes yet another task at which one can succeed, or fail". Respectfully, that statement suggests an ignorance of what the practice of meditation really is--it certainly isn't mindful. Alternatively, it suggests a lack of understanding on the part of whoever may lead workplace meditation sessions.

The practice of law in most law firms today, involves what Mr. Cohen describes as, "a culture without an off switch"--a characterization with which I totally agree. Burnout in the legal profession is present and quite real. Some would even say, prevalent--as in, of epidemic proportion.

"Minds Turned To Ash" (which is the title of the piece that has been quoted), is something I personally witnessed when I was practicing law, in Chicago--I doubt that reality is appreciably different in other jurisdictions, throughout the country.

Turning good minds into ash, as a result of burnout and lack of general well-being, is a shameful reality that our profession needs to address. It compromises one's effectiveness at work, and can create problems in peoples' personal lives, that last a lifetime.

Lawyers need to do a much better job in taking care of themselves, so they can be as effective as possible, in taking care of others--be they clients, work peers, or family!


Categories: uncategorized
« back to all blogs



Name (required)
E-mail (required but not shown)


Blog Articles