What is Mindfulness? Mindfulness is an open and receptive attention to, and awareness of what is occurring in the present moment. Mindfulness can be cultivated through a mindfulness meditation training program.
Benefits of Mindfulness for Lawyers. Research has demonstrated several positive physiological and psychological impacts of mindfulness training/practice including:
- Reduced stress, anxiety, depression, and improved emotional regulation. Stress and anxiety are known to be significant concerns for lawyers.
- Improved control over attention – the ability to “pay attention.”
- Enhanced working memory, enhanced compassion, and self-awareness
Mindfulness and Performance. Research indicates a relationship between mindfulness training/practice and professional performance. Specifically, mindfulness may enhance the ability to:
- Focus and think clearly under stress
- Escape the default mode of operating with partial attention
- Respond in a thoughtful and informed way based on what is happening in the present moment
- Connect in a productive way with others
Jeena Cho, J.D. of JC Law Group PC, and John Paul Minda, PhD of the Department of Psychology and The Brain and Mind Institute at the University of Western Ontario are collaborating on this research project designed to investigate the relationship between mindfulness meditation and performance and well-being in lawyers. Dr. Minda is a cognitive psychologist who studies thinking and reasoning, learning, and conceptual abilities in children, adults, and older adults. Current work includes a multi-site study on the cognitive and psychological benefits of mindfulness meditation. Dr. Minda’s research laboratory is funded by the Canadian government and the research described here has been approved by the Research Ethics Board at Western.
The study will rely on an 8-week mindfulness program designed by Jeena Cho and Karen Gifford and described in The Anxious Lawyer: An 8-Week Guide to a Happier, Saner Law Practice Using Meditation.
Overview of this Research
Our study will be the first of its kind to investigate the possible benefits or effects of a mindfulness meditation practice on lawyers. We predict that participants in our study will experience increased resilience and satisfaction and decreased stress and anxiety. This study is designed as an 8-week study with assessments pre and post study. We will examine changes between those two measurement points.
- Initial Assessment of key psychological variables such as resilience, anxiety, self-regulation, mood, and a self-rating of competence will take place before the meditation program is introduced. These measures will be collected on-line using a password-secure system designed by Sigma Assessment, a firm with expertise in personality assessment and a frequent collaborator with Dr. Minda.
- Daily Meditations will be self-guided, based on The Anxious Lawyer. Study participants will complete a diary to indicate how often and when they practiced mindfulness meditation.
- Webinars designed by Jeena Cho and Karen Gifford will provide participants with an overview of mindfulness meditation and will give guidance on how and when to meditate. Three Webinars will be offered during the 8-week period — an introductory session, second Webinar during week four, and final Webinar at the conclusion.
- Post Study Assessments will be collected by Dr. Minda on the same key variables that were measured at the beginning of the study.
If you have not registered for the 8-week online mindfulness program, you can do so here.
Questions? Comments? Please contact Dr. John Paul Minda (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jeena Cho (email@example.com).
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Cho, J & Gifford, K (2016) The Anxious Lawyer: An 8-Week Guide to a Happier, Saner Law Practice Using Meditation. Chicago, Illinois: American Bar Association.
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Middleton, M (2015) Big Trouble: Experts say substance abuse and mental health issues are a growing problem for the legal profession. ABA Journal, retrieved from http://goo.gl/QnlCuL
Reb, J., Narayanan, J., & Chaturvedi, S. (2012). Leading Mindfully: Two Studies on the Influence of Supervisor Trait Mindfulness on Employee Well-Being and Performance. Mindfulness, 5(1), 36–45.