The Mindfulness Blog

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Remember What The Dormouse Said?

OK, full disclosure. I'm a fan of both Lewis Carroll and Grace Slick (he wrote the book,The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland, and she wrote the song, "White Rabbit" which was on the Jefferson Airplane album Surrealistic Pillow. Ah yes, the late '60's and early '70's-- what a time!

Even though marijuana is now legal here in Illinois and other states, it's been a long time since a hookah-smoking caterpillar has given me the call, and that's OK-- I'm still into introspection, but I don't need a chemical boost. For the longest time, I've been into just sitting in stillness and silence, closing my eyes, and focusing on the breath. The movie continues, without any enhancement!

Stillness is about quieting the body. Silence is about quieting the mind. Closing the eyes is about moving inward (minimizing the distraction of the outside world). Focusing on the breath is about completing the journey inward, and connecting with the present moment (not to mention, providing the body with the oxygen it needs, to survive).

The body, of course, is always in the present-- it literally cannot exist anywhere but the present. The mind, on the other hand, is often somewhere in the past (rumination) or somewhere in the future (anticipation)-- it only rests in the present if we train it to do so-- if we anchor it to something that is constant and present, like the breath. When we do that, a lot of positive things begin to happen-- things that bear directly upon our mental, physical and emotional well-being.

Mindfulness (for me, a natural state of awareness that we all have the capacity to access) and meditation (a practice that helps me be more mindful), both eschew rumination about events in the past or anticipation of events in the future. Both also eschew the tendency we all have to judge other people or other things, by comparing them with other people or things we've heard, or seen, or experienced before. It's something most of us tend to do-- often, without even being conscious of the fact that we're doing it.

For us lawyers, it may be about living life by consciously or unconsciously embracing the doctrine of stare decisis-- always referring to the "precedent" of the past, or anticipating how any deviation from that precedent is likely to play out. Talk about taking our work home with us!

Our law (at least, common law) is built on the foundation of stare decisis. Our life, on the other hand, is decidedly not. Rigid predictability and consistency in the practice of law: That's a good thing. Rigid predictability and consistency in life outside the practice of law: Not so much. Flexibility and spontaneity tend to be kind of important.

Simplistically, mindfulness is a lot like what many of us may think of as spontaneity. The concept of mindfulness is often talked about as something that is foreign--something that can't quite be defined in terms that a lot of us can grasp or understand-- it needn't be that way.

Be more spontaneous. Be more curious. Be more mindful. And, remember what the dormouse said!


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