Written by lawyers Hallie Love and Nathalie Martin, Yoga for Lawyers - Mind-Body Techniques to Feel Better All the Time, published by the American Bar Association 2014, is a gentle introductory approach grounded in scientific studies, scholarly research, and clear instructions. Proven to relieve stress, energize, and improve sleep, the featured easy-to-learn and easy-to-do meditative techniques and therapeutic yoga stretches can change your life in just minutes every day.
With photos detailing the exercises and written descriptions of how and why to do them, Yoga for Lawyers offers techniques that can help you improve your law practice by sharpening your ability to concentrate and bettering your overall state of mind and well being.
Pointing to studies that show lawyers are twice as likely as others to be alcoholics and three times more likely to suffer a heart attack, a professor from the University of New Mexico School of Law has helped write a book advocating yoga to help.
Nathalie Martin, the Frederick M. Hart Chair in Consumer and Clinical Law, co-authored “Yoga for Lawyers: Mind-Body Techniques to Feel Better All the Time” with Hallie Love. Love, who is a yoga teacher, also has more than a decade of experience as a practicing lawyer.
Professor Martin's passions include three long-term life goals: first, helping small businesses get started in New Mexico, and thus improving the State's overall economy; second, helping consumers avoid the many traps and pitfalls created by the current consumer credit world; and third, helping lawyers maintain balance in their lives.
She routinely advises law students on managing stress while practice law in a healthy and productive way, and invites students to visit her personal wellness page.
Here's a link to my page (contemplativelawyers.com) with articles and resources related to lawyers, meditation, and mindfulness. With so much attention now being given to these topics, it is hard to keep the page updated! Let me know if you see other links I should add.
Some days I wish I were still living in New Mexico . . .
Although this article uses the neuromythology of right brain/left brain, and is focusing on the medical profession, it nevertheless includes some observations that could prove useful for lawyers and other conflict practitioners. From an article in Philadelphia's The Inquirer "Restoring left-brain activities to medical school" (a title that is puzzling as it does not fit the article even if one uses the neuromyth of the brain being divided in function):
Medical education is in a crisis. According to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, half of 4,287 students surveyed at seven medical schools experienced burnout and 10 percent expressed suicidal ideation. And doctors aren't much better off; a second study in JAMA Internal Medicine of 7,288 physicians showed that almost half had experienced some symptom of burnout.
The public image of doctors hasn't fared well, either. While the popular notion of doctors was once the wise and avuncular Marcus Welby, M.D., more recent portrayals tend toward Dr. Gregory House, a brilliant but annoying know-it-all with a decided God complex.
Salvatore Mangione, an associate professor at Thomas Jefferson University, thinks he knows why. In talks and papers, he has investigated how medical education veered off course and how it can be reinvigorated. ... ...
"We've heard [anecdotally from students] that the [drawing] class was almost like Zen therapy," says Mangione. "The students felt that this helped them see things differently and to feel differently."
A colleague and close friend of mine is in San Diego this weekend attending a Remo Drums HealthRHYTHMS course, being taught by Christine Stevens (videos of Stevens). I am looking forward to hearing all about what she learned when she returns to Colorado because for many years I have been interested in the use of music for conflict resolution (see my past posts on that topic here). The use of music with and for aging seniors has also been a long-time interest.
Music is an important component of the human experience. The use of music in culture has been a documented feature of the history of civilizations. Types of music have been uniquely associated with distinct feelings, experiences, and social interactions. Cultures have incorporated music into the educational process, religious and tribal rituals, and patriotic expressions. Music conveys features of culture both with lyrics and melody. Vocal music has been used both as a contemporary vehicle and an archival mechanism to transmit important cultural, moral, spiritual, and historical events and values. Music has been used to calm, to enable feelings of safety, and to reduce the social distance between people.
Music can be a very potent and effective tool. The drum, one of the most basic instruments, provides a way any of us, no matter how musically unskilled, can use the tool of music actively, playfully, and easily.
HealthRHYTHMS Basic Training teaches a fun, evidence-based whole person strategy which promotes socialization and ensures a healthy non-strenuous workout. On a deeper level it builds bridges while fostering nurturing, support, camaraderie, self-respect and respect for others. It is not really about drumming, but uses the drum as a tool for communication and personal expression. This system can be integrated as a therapeutic strategy in group counseling sessions, support groups, rehabilitation centers, schools, hospitals, aging facilities and more.
I can think of a few law firms that could benefit from a drum corps in the hallways.
You probably don’t need statistics to appreciate the pervasive role of stress in American life, but the numbers are there if you do. A recent Stress in America survey found that a quarter of adults experience high stress on a regular basis, and 42% say their stress levels are rising.
Given the impact stress has been known to have on physical and psychological well-being, that makes it a pretty urgent problem for behavioral researchers to consider.
“As everyone knows, stress is prevalent in everyday life,” said APS President Elizabeth A. Phelps of New York University, by way of introducing her presidential symposium at the 2014 APS Annual Convention. “And it seems to be increasing.”
Phelps gathered a wide-ranging panel to address the roots of stress — as well as potential interventions for it — from neurobiological, cognitive, health, and developmental perspectives.
Most of the presentations I attended last week at the 26th Annual APS (Association for Psychological Science) Convention were extremely valuable and I learned much about, e.g., the latest science. However one of the programs stood out as not only a good learning experience but also immediately useful—and entertaining. I might even call it memorably inspiring and simply amazing. I am happy to see that the whole presentation is available for your viewing on the APS site.
Memory researcher Henry L. Roediger, III, spoke the digits at a rate of one every 2 seconds. A few feet to his left on the stage, memory athlete Nelson Dellis sat in a chair absorbing each one. Dellis was hunched over, his hands pressed over his eyes, his face a bit red with intensity. After Roediger announced the 100th digit, Dellis leaned back and asked for a moment to let it sink in. He was going to recite them back to the audience, all hundred, in order.
A packed ballroom never sat so silent in anticipation.
Roediger and Dellis had just spent the past hour revealing the secrets of mnemonic memory as part of the Bring the Family Address at the 26th APS Annual Convention. Roediger, APS Past President and a psychological scientist at Washington University in St. Louis, has pivoted some research attention to the spectacular feats of extreme memorizers. Dellis, the reigning and three-time US Memory Champion, helped him demonstrate to the crowd just how spectacular those feats are.
“Psychologists, strangely enough, even though there’s a large number of us who study memory, have not been as fascinating with mnemonic techniques as we might have been,” said Roediger. “They were sometimes seen as they are in education, as party tricks — not worthy of study. I think that’s misguided.”
I highly recommend you take the time to watch this program. Let me know what you think.
Today you may read a couple of her lawyer-related articles. First is "Canine Court" (San Francisco Chronicle Magazine) the story of her first trial.
Sparky the Airedale was my first client to stand trial. It was 1973 and I had just passed the bar. According to the lawsuit, the “aforementioned animal hereinafter referred to as ‘dog’ ” had collided with, knocked down and otherwise upset Alberto Gutierrez*, next-door neighbor to Sparky and his owner, Mrs. Carmen Moreno. It was a far more innocent time for dogs then, but not for neighbors vying for parking.
From the same publication comes "Type A-Zen: Is it possible for lawyers to slow down enough to tear lettuce?" in which she writes about lawyers in a meditation retreat. (Page 2 of the article is here.)
Zen lawyers. As a former practicing attorney and longtime meditator, this koan intrigues me. Type-A attorneys, aggressive adversaries driven to win, practicing Type-B Zen — letting go of control, feeling compassion and leaving no one with the short end of the stick.
The workshop leader, a former lawyer, now Zen priest, liked my story idea. So I carpooled from Marin with other workshop participants, five hours down the coast, then through Carmel Valley to Los Padres National Forest.
This made me smile.
On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being “Om” and 10 being “See you in court and may you live to regret it,” a lawyer’s idea of slowing down seems to be around 7 or 8. They are dreamy-eyed after sitting in 108-degree water, but still forceful, direct.
What background do you need to succeed as a mediator? Any advantages to being a lawyer? Challenges and rewards in this field? These are some of the questions answered by mediation old-timers in "Who Wants To Be A Mediator?" (Dispute Resolution Magazine), an article written back in 2010.
All of us who have been active mediators for any significant time are asked time and again, “How can I get into the field? Is mediation as enjoyable as it appears to be? What will it take for me to become a successful mediator?” We asked these questions of 31 mediators who began mediating in the 1970s and 1980s and who have remained active in the field to this day. These mediators have experience in the areas in which mediation has been most widely used: business and commercial, construction, product liability, employment, divorce, labor management, neighborhood, environmental, community, and public policy matters.
Despite the variety of their areas of practice, the views of these mediators were remarkably consistent. They found mediation to be immensely satisfying work. They noted the value of patience, persistence, and legal experience in becoming successful in the mediation marketplace. They also commented on the importance of mediation training, mentoring, practice, and marketing. Finally, they commented on the challenges—and advantages—of turning to mediation as a second career.
Gary Friedman also told us that he thinks some of the original promise of mediation has been compromised.“For me mediation was really about flipping the basic professional assumption that we knew better than people in a dispute about what they should do with their lives,” he explained.“The people that came to mediation in the beginning really got that. . . . [O]ver time that changed because lawyers got involved, and said, ‘Well, this is a settlement conference, we know how to do this.’”
A number of mediators expressed concern that the field has become too specialized and routinized. Christopher Moore said that “because of the specialization dynamic, people get locked into one area of practice. One of the most wonderful things about my practice has been the cross- fertilization of ideas. You can take an insight from doing a family case . . . or any interpersonal case, and apply it to big public or international conflicts. . . . I worry that the specialization may prevent some of the great cross-pollination of ideas.”
Leonard Riskin described visiting a mediation firm whose members had “created a template, in which mediations began with a joint session and then stayed in caucuses for the remainder of the day. That was just the way it was. And I think that that format is more and more common. It bothers me to see this degree of inattention to what’s going on in an individual case.”
Study Highlights Importance of Parents Talking to Kids about Money
A new study from North Carolina State University and the University of Texas finds that children pay close attention to issues related to money, and that parents should make an effort to talk with their children to ensure that kids don’t develop misconceptions about finance.
“We wanted to know what kids are learning, or not learning, about money from their parents,” says Dr. Lynsey Romo, an assistant professor of communication at NC State and lead author of a paper on the research. “This is one of the first studies to look at what young school-age children know about money. The only other studies we’ve seen that address this issue focused on some high school and mostly college students.”
The researchers conducted interviews with 136 children between the ages of eight and 17, with an average age of 10.5. Fifty-seven percent of the children were boys; 43 percent were girls.
“Broadly speaking, we found that parents were most likely to talk with their kids about saving, spending and earning,” Romo says. The children said they felt their parents talked about these subjects to prepare kids for the future.
The children also reported that some subjects were largely “off-limits,” including family finances, parental income, investments and debt. For the most part, the children said they weren’t sure why parents didn’t want to talk about these subjects. However, some children said they thought parents didn’t want to discuss these topics because parents were afraid of scaring their children, or of having the children brag about their family’s finances or compare their financial circumstances with other families.
“The takeaway here is that even young kids are aware of financial issues, regardless of whether parents talk with them about money,” Romo says. “And if parents aren’t talking with their kids about subjects like family finances or debt, the kids are drawing their own conclusions – which may not be accurate. Even if parents don’t want to discuss family finances with their children, it may be worthwhile to explain why they don’t want to discuss that topic.”
The study also found that, while parents often didn’t talk about investments, they were statistically far more likely to talk to their sons about investing than they were to talk to their daughters about the subject. Similarly, parents were more likely to talk to boys about debt.
Summary The author reviews a workshop led by Gary Friedman for the Mediation Panel of the U.S. District Court, Central District of California. Friedman’s presentation emphasized the benefits of working with the parties in joint session – without caucusing.
I silently thanked Mr. Friedman this week while mediating an interpleader action involving individuals with competing claims to life insurance proceeds. After reading the court file and meeting with the parties, I “knew” how the funds should be allocated. But, thinking of Friedman’s model, I did not separate the parties in order to suggest “my” number in caucus.
Instead, I kept the parties together and had them share their stories about the deceased, their relationship to him, and how they viewed the life insurance policy. After two hours of discussion, some of which was emotional and uncomfortable, one party blurted out the allocation that she considered fair – and, as it so happened, it was “my” number. The other party nodded her head in agreement; the case settled. By taking the time to work through the conflict with each other, the parties reached the allocation in a manner that gave them more certainty, more satisfaction, and an opportunity to reconcile with one another. The mediation took extra time, but it was worth it.
If you teach or train, this might be a good essay to read. The author includes five lessons she learned from not excelling in a class, the last of which I quote below. What do you think?
Write a new personal narrative. For me, one of the most empowering outcomes of my year of climbing has been the new narrative I can tell about myself. I am no longer “Adrianne: scholar, book lover, pianist, and Wikipedian”. I am now “Adrianne: scholar, book lover, pianist, Wikipedian, and rock climber”. This was brought home most vividly to me one day when I was climbing outdoors here in Los Angeles and people on the beach were marveling at those of us climbing. Suddenly I realized, I used to be the person saying how crazy or impossible such feats were and now I was the one doing them. I had radically switched subject positions in a way I did not think possible for myself. That, I realized, is what I want my students to experience - that radical switch and growth. It is an enormous goal and I would love to hear how others work at achieving it with their students.
Have you heard the parable about truths and facts trying to get heard and being ignored? In the second part of the tale, story comes along: she takes the same information, wraps it in a narrative and is heard. There are many versions of this story, but in all of them story shows fact how to become interesting and welcomed. Click to listen to one version. Read other versions here and here.
Perhaps you have experienced not being able to get your point across no matter how important and accurate. There's a good chance that using a story may increase the chances people will listen. In addition to what we are learning about narrative transportation (how people's attitudes and behaviors may change when engrossed in a story), other research too indicates that using a story to persuade may be wise. In one study (details here), a group of physicians were given clinical guidelines and another group of doctors were given the same information but in the form of a story.
After an hour, researchers asked the doctors to share what they remembered.
"The results were really astonishing," said [Austin] Kilaru. "The level of recall for people who had just read the guideline itself was really quite low. It got to the point where people were making up guidelines because they knew they were supposed to remember something."
"What we find over and over and over is that these stories are really powerful for the brain," said Hasson. "They evoke strong responses in many different parts of the brain that are highly reliable."
Hasson looks at what happens inside our brains when we hear a story - one that we can relate to. He finds that stories activate parts of the brain associated with memory and which are not as active when we hear information that is easier to "tune out."
If you read print or online media these days, or any of a whole slew of business and self-help books about story, you will know this method of communication is a topic of much interest. In fact, it may have gotten so much coverage that the communicate-with-stories topic is almost cliche, sometimes even boring. I guess someone needs to write some stories so we begin to pay attention to the topic of stories again! Because of the heavy focus on story, many people are becoming story-leery (although not story-proof). They may feel that a story is being told to get them to do something.
So just make sure your story is worth a listen. Doing so is not that difficult. Don't most of us tell worthy stories everyday and without much effort? For some excellent tips, listen to this short four-part series from Ira Glass; they start here.
If you believe as I do that a mindful mediator is a more effective mediator—both because of his or her adept ability to utilize conflict resolution skills but more importantly because of the direct effect he or she has on the parties' affect (i.e., mood)—then I have a suggested program for you below.
No surprise to any of you who read my blogs: I think the reflectiveness, the mindfulness, of the mediator is significant, sometimes paramount, in the resolving of disputes. That mindfulness state is what in my opinion moves a dispute professional from adequate to excellent, to one who serves clients in a manner that is outstanding.
Because I think both play and self-knowledge can enhance our mindfulness, I am recommending a workshop to you. It's being taught September 18-21, by Doctors Bonnie Badenoch and Theresa Kestly in the artist and farmland community of Corrales, New Mexico, near the Rio Grande River. Click for all the details and to register. I have taken two seminars from Bonnie in the past, read two of her books which I recommend frequently, and believe she is gifted at working with clients. Even though I have not yet taken a class from Theresa, I know much about her approach and philosophy because I have read and appreciated several chapters of her forthcoming book The Interpersonal Neurobiology of Play. Both she and Bonnie are well-grounded in the science that underlies what they practice and teach.
So if you want to enhance your ability to resolve disputes while having fun in a beautiful setting learning from two mindful experts, sign up here.
Note: To learn more benefits of play, go to some of my past posts: here, here, and here.