It appears that meditation has gotten a bit of a bad reputation thanks to a lot of misinformation. So I should probably clear some things up! Meditation is not in itself a religious practice anymore than pushups are. Granted, most religions do have some sort of meditative practice. However, the universal appeal of meditation not only points to its usefulness but also to it not being attributable to any one religion. Religion and spirituality are not a requirement for meditation or vice versa. Meditation is simply a practice of quieting the mind, giving it a short vacation.
In the legal profession, activity, achievements and results are rewarded. So why turn to meditation, which seems to be a non-activity with little achieved? Well, just as your body needs sleep to recover after exercise, your mind needs time to break away from the chaos of modern life. And if any of you have been as stressed as I have, you will know that your brain definitely does not stop when your head hits the pillow. As a matter of fact, it seems that the little monkey that lives in our heads is nocturnal.
So meditation can help give your brain a bit of a rest. But what else can it do?
- Health benefits
Meditation has been shown to help alleviate stress and anxiety, both of which are major predictors for heart disease. Decreased stress and anxiety leads to decreased probability of heart disease. On top of that, meditation has been linked to lowered levels of cortisol, a hormone released by the adrenal gland during times of stress. Cortisol increases blood sugar and counteracts insulin. Basically, it makes you chubby. Lowering levels of cortisol by decreasing your stress and anxiety may actually reduce your pant size. Not to mention less sick days!
OK, I really don’t like this word. How about, “You stop taking things so personally and getting annoyed at the little things.” Meditation helps build perspective by allowing us to detach ourselves from these little, annoying thoughts that bounce around in our heads. Now don’t confuse this with indifference! It just means you are able to keep a cool head in obnoxious times. And wouldn’t that be helpful as a lawyer?
Regardless of what you are doing, be it work, sports or music, concentration is an essential skill — especially today, with so many distractions. Many studies have shown that those who meditate regularly have heightened levels of concentration.
- Spontaneity and creativity
Thought has a tendency to run from A to B to C in a linear form. Many times this means that we focus on the past and the future with little time left for what is right in front of us. Just as meditation can help us concentrate by quieting that monkey mind of ours, it can also open us up to spontaneity and creativity — both of which are valuable qualities to possess in the legal industry.
This is just a short list. There’s so much more! It’s hard to imagine that doing something for such a short time everyday can have such a large impact. Want to get started? Come to Room 129 today at 12:30 p.m. and I’ll show you one way to do it. Can’t make it? Well Google “meditation techniques” and pick one that works for you!
W. Blake Wilson, Instructional & Research Services Librarian