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Meditation: What Is It and What Are the Benefits

by Will Graebe |

Let’s face it, lawyers have a lot of stress in their lives. We deal with deadlines, angry and impatient clients, malpractice exposure, difficult opposing counsel, and expectations of perfection. Now, add to that list the COVID 19 pandemic, inflation and political turmoil and you’ve got a big heaping serving of stress stew. If we do not find ways to manage this stress, it will ultimately take its toll on our physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Meditation is a simple and effective way to manage that stress. If you haven’t tried it, I hope I can convince you to give it a shot.

What is meditation? While there is not a single definition, meditation is generally defined as a set of techniques or practices used to improve focus and awareness and calm the mind. There are many types of meditation practice. Some involve focusing on a single object to the exclusion of other thoughts. Others use a mantra that is spoken or chanted in repetition. The most basic form of meditation is to simply focus on your breath as it goes in and out. There is also a practice called loving kindness meditation where you send out positive thoughts and well wishes to others. Another type of meditation is body-scan, where you do a complete mental scan of your body from head to toe. And there are guided meditations where another person leads you through a practice. There are many more, but this gives you an idea of the variety that is available. 

One of the advantages to meditation is that it can be done anywhere at almost any time. There is no prescribed time period for meditation. It can be as short as one minute or as long as a day. It is whatever works for you. You can meditate sitting down, lying down, walking, or standing on your head if you like. It can be done in your home, at your office, in your car, at the beach, in a park, or virtually anywhere you are. You do not have to put on an orange robe and sit in a cave in the Himalayas. It is accessible wherever you are. 

So, now you know in a general sense what meditation is. But, as lawyers, we want to see the evidence that it works. Fortunately, in recent years, there have been numerous clinical and research studies to show the benefits. A 2017 Cleveland Clinic article provides a summary of the many potential benefits of meditation and mindfulness and cites the studies that support these findings. The article notes that meditation can improve neural processing, reduce stress and anxiety, decrease chronic pain, and improve sleep.

So, if we know meditation has all of these benefits, why wouldn’t we start a consistent meditation practice? Often, when I talk to lawyers about trying meditation for the first time, I am met with a response something like this, “My mind is too busy. I cannot stop the thoughts in my head.” I explain to those people that I haven’t met anyone yet who can completely stop the thoughts from popping up. It is not about blanking your mind. It is about just noticing the thoughts when they arise and letting them pass without any judgment. The easiest way that I have found to do this practice is to sit or lie down in a quiet place and pay attention to my breath. I focus on the inhale and then the exhale. When a thought pops up, I notice it and bring my focus back to my breath. It’s as simple as that. 

If you are a beginner and are a little intimidated by the idea of meditating on your own for the first time, there are numerous meditation apps and YouTube videos that offer guided meditations. These are a great place to start. There are the Calm and Headspace meditation apps that are available for a small annual charge. There are also thousands of free meditations available on-line. They range from general meditations to specific meditations and are as short as 2 minutes and as long as several hours. When I started meditating, I experimented with these and still use a lot of these free videos. Do what works for you.

Meditation is like anything else. The more you do it, the easier it gets. Start small and let go of expectations. Trust that the benefits will come. And, maybe most importantly, do not treat it like a competition. The goal is not to become the best meditator. If you start and fall off from the practice, do not beat yourself up. Just get back on the horse and try again. 


About the Author

Will Graebe

Will Graebe came to Lawyers Mutual in 1998 as claims counsel. In 2009, Will became the Vice President of the Claims Department and served in that role until 2019. After a two-year sabbatical, Will returned to Lawyers Mutual as claims counsel and relationship manager. In his role as claims counsel, Will focuses primarily on claims related to estates and trusts, business transactions and real estate matters. Will received his J.D. from Wake Forest University School of Law and his undergraduate degree from Stetson University. Prior to joining Lawyers Mutual, will worked in private practice with the law firm of Pinna, Johnston & Burwell.  

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