Practicing meditation right from your desk can make a huge positive difference in your workday. Every legal professional should learn how to do a quick meditation at work.
It wasn’t all that long ago that most Americans viewed meditation as a “fringe” practice. It was something that hippies in loose, flowing clothing did while sitting cross-legged on dusty floors at sweaty retreats.
It certainly wasn’t something that any dignified legal professional would do — especially in the office.
Fast forward to today, and meditation is all the rage. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control, in the brief five-year span between 2012 and 2017, meditation practice in the U.S. more than tripled to the point where over 14% of adults now engage in an active meditation practice.
That’s a wonderful trend.
As a baseline, most people understand that meditation is an effective way to combat stress.
Those of us in the legal profession also know that we’re some of the most stressed out people on the planet. So, maybe it’s time to make meditation as common as mediation in the modern law office.
In this article we’ll explore the practice of meditation and share some strategies to easily incorporate this stress-buster into your workdays.
What the heck is meditation?
If you do a Google search for the question “what is meditation?” you’ll get roughly 544 million different answers (no joke).
Some describe it as an ancient religious practice.
Still others tell us that there are many different kinds of meditation, including mindfulness, focused, spiritual, movement, and visualization meditations.
Each of those answers is right, of course.
Ultimately, meditation is what you want and need it to be. As applied to your workday, it can be an effective way to relax, clear your mind of problems, and simply observe your thoughts, feelings, and physical environment without judgment.
Most meditation practices also involve intentional breathing methods. Some involve listening to calming music, which can be helpful when you’re trying to drown out the office stress that’s buzzing around you.
Far be it from us to presume what’s right for each of you.
The good news about meditation is that you almost can’t do it incorrectly, no matter what you try. As long as it gives you a little escape from your stress, you’re doing okay.
The benefits of meditation
It’s quite possible that one of the reasons meditation continues to grow in popularity is that it produces so many mental and physical health benefits.
According to the Mayo Clinic, meditation can be a useful tool in combating the following conditions, many of which plague the legal profession:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Chronic pain
- Sleep disturbances
It can also provide critical emotional benefits such as increasing self-awareness, allowing for greater patience and tolerance, reducing negativity, and managing stress.
Imagine if we all had one tool that could so greatly improve our lives and the lives of those around us.
It’s free, endlessly accessible, and you can start using it right now. Welcome to meditation.
Why you should consider meditating at work
It’s no secret that law offices are highly stressful places. One industry expert recently posited that practicing law might be more stressful than spending a year and a half in a prisoner-of-war camp.
It follows, then, that if law offices are so stressful, any midday regimen that can bring down the intensity is a good thing.
Moreover, studies show that one person’s meditation practice can benefit the lives of everyone around them.
You can see how this would work in a law firm, can’t you? Imagine the most intense, stressed out partner in your law firm. Think for a moment about how that person’s stress impacts the associates, paralegals, and other staff members around them.
Now, imagine what it would look like if that person took 15 minutes out of every day to destress via meditation.
Do you think their co-workers might also have a more peaceful existence?
And what if each of them also meditated each day?
When you look at it like this, you can see how meditation could transform an entire law office into a fairly mellow place to work.
A girl can dream, right?
Steps to begin your in-office meditation practice
In the event we’ve convinced you that in-office meditation is worth a shot, let’s talk about how you get started. There’s truly no wrong way to meditate, but here are some steps that might make it easier for you and your colleagues:
#1. Do a little research
If you really want to get serious about meditation, take the time to do a little research about the different meditation practices that are available to you.
Then, try one.
If it doesn’t resonate, try another. If that doesn’t work, make up your own practice.
You almost can’t go wrong if you just calm your mind, let go of work stress, and breathe deeply for a while.
Guided meditation might be an easy place to start, but some people are more comfortable without any sounds or prompts. Most importantly, if you don’t love the first practice you attempt, don’t give it up. It takes practice to be able to clear your mind.
#2. Find your “where”
Of course, one of the biggest issues is going to be finding the right place to meditate, especially if you work in an open space or cubicle-like setting.
Try reserving an infrequently-used conference room, an unused office, or even your car. Just try to find a place where you can find relative peace and quiet for a few minutes each day.
If you work from home, make sure you can get away from interruptions from family members and chores. Close your door, head out to a quiet spot outside, or take a short walk to the neighborhood park if you need to.
#3. Make a playlist
As noted, it’s going to be important to drown out the office commotion that surrounds you.
Calming music can be great for this. I personally listen to binaural beats or listen to chanting music from artists like Deva Premal to get into my best meditation headspace. In most cases, it’s best to choose music that doesn’t have words so that you’re not distracted by what the singer is saying.
But you do you. Find what you like and stick to it. Some people prefer total silence, and others like to listen to a guided meditation track that includes both music and calming prompts.
#4. There’s an app for that
It’s also important to note that there are basically a million apps that will guide you through all sorts of meditations and will even supply the music.
#5. Give it time
Given how easy it is to begin, it’s also easy to stop doing. Commit to your meditation practice for a month to fully realize the benefits.
You might want to track your progress with a journal or an app so that you can actually see the difference in your stress levels.
Most fitness apps include some kind of stress tracking feature that prompts you to make note of your mental state a few times per day. Use those or some other kind of stress tracking system so that you can visualize the gradual change in your attitude over time.
Once you build the habit of meditation, it’s easy to keep. You’ll look forward to those few minutes of peace every day.
Until then, set yourself a timer or calendar reminder.
Don’t skip a day — your busiest days are when you need it the most.