The Mindfulness Blog

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Express Yourself

It may not be a musical masterpiece, but the song, "Express Yourself", by Charles Wright and the Straight Outta Compton hip hop band N.W.A. makes a very simple and important point: We all have a voice, or a unique way we do whatever it is that we do, and if we're lucky enough to find that voice or personal style, we should embrace it-- we should live it.

For some of us, that may be outward-looking, for others, it may be inward-looking. For me, it's a bit of both-- sitting silently with myself, and writing pieces like this one, advocating for the institution of mindfulness and meditation in law firms, and throughout the legal profession. Expressing myself!

In our culture, life has increasingly been identified with action-- for many of us, what we do is more significant than what we say. Of course, what we do is important in defining who we are, but so too is what we say-- and what we think. Deeds may define us to others, but how do we define ourselves to ourselves?

Let's sit with that for a moment. Observe the mind, as it thinks thoughts. Focus on the body, as it feels emotion. Notice the mind/body as they process moods. Let's respond skillfully, rather than blindly react -- finding, and expanding the space between stimulus and response-- before we act, or speak (tip of the hat to Viktor Frankl).

Mindfulness and meditation can facilitate that process, but many of us already know that. The challenge is to find a way to communicate that knowledge to decision-makers who may be skeptical, or attached exclusively to traditional metrics. Sometimes "doing nothing" is better than doing something, though it's not easy to measure the impact of "doing nothing".

Many law firms and other legal institutions have reacted by promulgating a version of the "no asshole" rule, to govern the way in which people interact with each other-- when in doubt, a dose of "thou shalt not" seems to do the trick. But that kind of institutional finger-waving only goes so far. Maybe some quiet time, and a reminder of the Golden Rule would be better received, and more effective?

Yes, it's important that we express ourselves, but we could all benefit from a reminder, once in a while, to express ourselves with dignity-- both for ourselves, and for others. Let's rediscover that art of disagreeing, without being disagreeable!


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