Mindfulness in Law

This edition of Assist In Your Community focuses on ‘mindfulness,’ or mindful awareness.  

Mindfulness is being aware yet removed from our thoughts, emotions, and sensations. With roots in Buddhism, the practice has been successful in reducing negative reactions to sensitive situations and has gained prominence in workplaces and law curriculum. Closely related to meditation, mindful awareness is the concept of being in the present with your thoughts and adopting another person’s perspective, all while not being affected by it. Being mindful allows us to comprehend conflict and react accordingly to it in our work and personal lives. In turn, practicing mindfulness is said to help reduce anxiety and stress that often come with the territory of practicing law.

Mindfulness encourages non-judgmental thought processing and creates a harmonious workplace, increases productivity, and gives way to ethical decision-making. Overall, it enables law professionals to prioritize tasks and potential conflict by incorporating unbiased and neutral thought processing into all facets of their lives.

Here are some approaches to becoming more mindful:

  • Start small; be mindful in everyday things that you enjoy doing like reading the newspaper or listening to music on your way to work.
  • Try a yoga class in your community; yoga is said to enhance our physical and mental well-being by reminding us to focus on the present.
  • Designate a quiet space in your workplace for meditation and peaceful reflection.
  • Encourage a scheduled meditation or quiet time at work, so that mindfulness is fit into each day.
  • Download the Bloom smartphone app to encourage creativity and inspiration throughout your day.

Read This Now

By Dana Schindelka, Chair of Assist & Vice-Chair of the Legal Profession Assistance Conference
Reprinted with permission from Slaw

"Having spent the better part of my life trying either to relive the past or experience the future before it arrives, I have come to believe that in between these two extremes is peace."
– Author Unknown.

If your legal practice or life are anything like mine, you have too many things you need to do and too little time to get them done. I often wake in the morning and think of what I need to get done at work that day. Frequently, at the end of the day I realize that I only accomplished a portion of what I wanted to achieve and in the meantime, a number of other pressing matters have been added to the list. Some time ago, I realized that when I was working long hours I thought about taking some time off. Ironically, when I was on vacation, I was thinking about my clients and the work that was accumulating and would be waiting for me upon my return. Many people in this day and age take phone calls, or review texts or emails while they are in a meeting, visiting a friend, spending time with family or are engaged in an activity that is supposed to be enjoyable such as a meal, sporting event, concert, or show. I realized that I was actually only partially present in some of my telephone and in-person conversations. In addition to being impolite, this was not acceptable to me on a number of levels.

This led me to try and make some changes. I am leaving my smartphone in the car when I go for dinner with a friend. I am also not dwelling on the past and am worrying about the future less (alright, I’m trying; it’s a work in progress). In short, I’m now trying to live in the moment and give each person I encounter my full and undivided attention.

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Walk for Wellness

Assist held our Second Annual Walk for Wellness in Calgary on July 19, 2012, and our First Annual Walk for Wellness in Calgary on September 20, 2012.
Thank you to all who attended and to all our sponsors and organizers for making these events a success!
Stay tuned for details on this year's Walks.

Upcoming Events

  • Assist will present at the LSA/LESA/Assist information session for 3rd-year law students at the University of Calgary on February 14.
  • Assist's Executive Director, Marian De Souza, will be presenting and chairing a panel at the Canadian Energy Law Foundation Conference in Canmore (February 28 - March 1).
  • Assist's Annual General Meeting will be held on March 21 in Calgary.

More Information on Mindfulness:

Mindfulness in Law - Organizations - Check out this website for links to information on the rapidly developing area of Mindfulness in Law.
Psychology Today - Urban Mindfulness
Mind Body Green - Your go-to guide for yoga and wellness

What Assist has been up to...

  • Assist spoke as a guest lecturer at the University of Calgary Family Law class.
  • Marian and Carolyn attended the CoLAP (Conference for Lawyer Assistance Programs) Workshop in Grand Rapids, MI.
  • Marian and Carolyn attended the LPAC (Legal Profession Assistance Conference) Workshop in Ottawa, ON.
  • Peer Support volunteer training was held on November 3 in Calgary.
  • Assist hosted a booth at the LESA Annual Law and Practice Update in Calgary.
  • Assist spoke at the PBLA Roundtable in Calgary.
  • Assist was the beneficiary of ZSA's Battle of the Bar Bands at Flames Central in Calgary.
  • Assist hosted a "Study Habits Lunch" with the students at University of Calgary Law.
  • Peer Support volunteer training was held December 1 in Edmonton.
  • Assist presented in front of the Law Society of Alberta Practice Review Committee on Alcohol Addiction.
  • Assist hosted a booth at the CBA Alberta Law Conference in Edmonton.
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