Lawyers work in a demanding profession. Stress levels are high. Burnout is rampant. Sacrifices made to advance our careers can have a pretty significant effect on our personal lives.
We’re far from alone. Honestly, there are very few careers that aren’t stressful.
We’re also not alone in what can feel like an endless struggle to increase our professional stamina and performance. Like many of you, I’ve experimented with a number of different strategies. One that’s working?
Right off the bat, I’ll address the fact that many people hear that word and think: flakey or new age. In reality, meditation is not remotely new; it’s an ancient practice.
Many people struggle with, and even dismiss, the notion of meditation as a performance tool in business. But that is about as legitimate as rejecting the notion that physical exercise clears the mind, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Meditation really is that, by the way. It’s an exercise. It’s an exercise for your brain—and it’s not altogether unlike other exercises that you might do to benefit your body. With meditation, as with physical exercise, the benefits will come from the repetition of the task. In this case, the task is repeatedly bringing your mind back to a central focus.
There’s a great TED Talk on meditation, presented by Neuroscientist Sara Lazar. Her research shows how the practice of meditation can actually change the size of key regions of the brain, resulting in improved memory, focus, empathy, compassion, and resilience and a reduction in anxiety.
How to get started? There are any number of resources online and in the “real” world. A good place to start is to take advantage of one of the many Smartphone apps that make it extremely easy to integrate meditation into your daily routine. My favourite, so far, is Headspace.
I have been practicing meditation for just a few months, but even at this early stage, I am experiencing reduced anxiety and improved memory and focus.
Lawyering is stressful and fraught with endless distractions. Be it meditation or any other tool to improve your sense of wellness and boost your productivity, my advice is simply to be open to it and give it a try. I am living proof that you never know what will work for you until you try it. Could you find a significant benefit in using meditation as a performance tool? Well… you’ll never know until you try.