The Mindfulness Blog

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We Just Disagree

I was a big Dave Mason fan when I was in college (both as a solo artist, and as a founding member of the terrific band--Traffic) and I always thought this song would find its way into the August series of blogs. But it never did-- until I read an article promoting the most recent book written by Sharon Salzberg, the tremendous teacher, meditator and co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts.

In that article, Ms. Salzberg was quoted as saying (I'm paraphrasing, based on memory) that meditators will disagree and fight for issues about which they feel strongly. The difference between meditators and non-meditators, is that meditators don't hate. Meditators don't demonize their opponents-- they (we) learn how to disagree, without being disagreeable.

What an important reminder for those of us who did (and still do) practice law-- it's what civility and professionalism are all about! And it's in large part what State-enacted rules of professional conduct are about.

It's easy to hurl insults, bang on the table and talk over an opponent but that is rarely convincing-- if anything, it incentivizes recipients of such behavior to push back and resist logic, in like fashion. It rarely settles a point, and much more often obscures things to the point that reason no longer obtains.

As the Austrian psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, once wrote (and, again, I paraphrase) between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space, we can learn to respond rather than react. Wise words that more lawyers would do well to heed.

How best to find that space? For me, the answer is easy: Meditation and the state of being it cultivates and encourages-- mindfulness. Both remind me about the difference between response and reaction. Both remind me of the importance of disagreeing, without being disagreeable.


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