The Mindfulness Blog

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Will It Go 'Round In Circles?

We're approaching the end of August, and the end of songs and song titles as inspiration for blog pieces about mindfulness and meditation. In the Summer of 1973, I spent a lot of time in the car, with the top down, listening to Billy Preston's singable-alongable song that was just plain fun, and didn't seem to be about anything in particular. Those were the days!

Wind the clock forward 45+ years, change perspective, and you get a markedly different result. Today, I am: 1) aware of, and delighted to see that, the stigma surrounding mental health is finally getting the attention that it's due, and 2) curious as to why that long-overdue attention seems to be directed largely (if not exclusively) toward what I refer to as "hard" mental health concerns-- concerns like addiction, substance abuse and other medically diagnosable conditions.

All of those "hard" conditions certainly deserve attention and care, but what about what I think of as "soft" conditions-- conditions like stress, burnout, lack of focus and motivation, or free-floating anxiety? Conditions that can (God forbid) be fertile ground for the manifestation of later "hard" mental or emotional challenges?

I'm not a psychiatrist or medically trained mental health professional, but anecdotally, it seems to me that for every 1 woman or man who suffers from a "hard" mental health condition, there are probably 25 women or men who are afflicted by "soft" mental health conditions-- perhaps, even more. What about them?

Are there any evidence=based tools that law firms (or other interested businesses) can provide to staff members and professionals who might suffer from one of more "soft" behavioral or social challenges? The answer is "yes", and among those tools are mindfulness and meditation.

The American Bar Association ("ABA") and many state-sponsored lawyer assistance programs ("LAP's) have done a laudable job of shining attention on the concern of "hard" mental health conditions and the dramatic impact they have on the legal profession. Significantly, however, little attention has been accorded to the ever-present "soft" mental health challenges that plague so many lawyers, and bedevil bottom lines.

Maybe the legal profession's understanding of mental health-- maybe everyone's understanding of mental health-- should be expanded to encompass both "hard" and "soft" mental health concerns?

A proposal: We should all stop going 'round in circles on this important point, and recognize that the deserving attention finally being given to mental health, be extended to both "hard" and "soft" concerns!


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