What is Mindfulness and what are its benefits?
- Mindfulness is the gentle effort to be continuously present. It means paying attention on purpose, in the present, non-judgmentally. So many of us spend our lives worrying about the past or worrying about the future. The present moment is the only time in which we can truly be alive, yet many of us live in the past or the future.
- Practicing mindfulness through meditation aids in managing stress, improving focus, and in improving our capacity for effective, quality work. It also helps us to foster a wedge of awareness that can improve patience and lessen the impact, intent, characterization pattern that defines much of legal practice. For example, when someone says something we do not like, that impact instantly leads us to thoughts of purposeful intent, personal characterizations, and negative responses.
- Our work as teachers, employees, students, advocates, mediators, and litigators requires focus and being in the present moment. To cultivate that ability requires meditation practice!
How do I meditate?
- In a chair sit with your feet uncrossed and flat on the floor away from the chair back so your posture is self-supporting. Alternatively use one of multiple seated floor positions (kneeling, sitting cross-legged, or a lotus position) and a cushion can also be used. It is important not to slouch and hands can be placed palm up or down, on your knees, or folded in your lap.
- Close your eyes and take three deep breaths. As you breathe in, gather in any worry or tension as if collecting water in a sponge. During each exhale, mentally wring out the sponge. Continue to focus on your breathing and, without controlling it, notice its characteristics. Is it smooth, jagged, fast, slow, etc?
What should I do when my mind wanders?
As your mind wanders, refocus your mind on your breathing, perhaps using one of these techniques:
- Inhale & think “Breathing in I know that I am breathing in.” Exhale & think “Breathing out I know that I am breathing out.”
- Try to think of your next thought.
- View your wandering thoughts as though on a ticker at the bottom of CNN or ESPN. Notice your thoughts (e.g., I heard the clock ticking), then let them go, and refocus on your breathing.
- Manage an upcoming difficult event or conversation by imagining yourself in that moment. Breathe & sit with the sensation and then see yourself finding the right words to handle the situation. When you are actually in that moment, some part of you will have been there before.
What are the opportunities for mindfulness @ MSU Law?
Technically you can do this anytime and while doing any activity by being mindful of your breathing and fully present in what you are doing. In only 30 seconds you can breathe deeply and refocus yourself.
Try the “Stop, Breathe & Think App” The app directs you to check in with yourself, and then recommends a guided meditation.
Weekly Meditation Practice (Each Tuesday when class is in session at 1 p.m., Courtroom 428) Professor Pappas or a substitute will lead a guided mindfulness meditation.
All students, faculty, and staff are welcome. Please join us!
Sponsored by the ADR Program