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Creative has long trumpeted the benefits of a daily meditation practice. Our course Get Wise: Mindfulness for Attorneys, which comes with a limited subscription to the popular meditation app, Calm, stands as an example to that commitment. Now, New York Times tech-journalist, Farhad Manjoo, agrees.
Manjoo’s recent column in the New York Times encourages readers to down their devices and pick up a meditation pillow. “Technology may have liberated us from the old gatekeepers,” Manjoo writes, “but it also created a culture of choose-your-own-fact niches, elevated conspiracy thinking to the center of public consciousness and brought the incessant nightmare of high-school-clique drama to every human endeavor.” (The legal profession is not exempt from the formation of high-school-cliques.)
Our use of technology, even the way it has infiltrated our law practices, has skewed the way in which we experience daily reality. “Objectively, the world today is better than ever, but the digital world inevitably makes everyone feel worse. It isn’t just the substance of daily news that unmoors you, but also the speed and volume and oversaturated fakery of it all.”
Going “offline” can only help so much and, for attorneys who depend upon email, online research, and e-filing, unplugging entirely is not a viable option. Plus the “offline” world still largely depends upon what happens “online.” Manjoo suggests combining a screen detox with a daily meditation practice. Here is how Majoo puts it:
Don’t roll your eyes. You’ve heard about the benefits of mindfulness before. Meditation has been rising up the ladder of West Coast wellness fads for several years and is now firmly in the zeitgeist.
It’s the subject of countless books, podcasts, conferences, a million-dollar app war. It’s extolled by C.E.O.s and entertainers and even taught in my kids’ elementary school (again, it’s Northern California). The fad is backed by reams of scientific research showing the benefits of mindfulness for your physical and mental health — how even short-term stints improve your attention span and your ability to focus, your memory, and other cognitive functions.
I knew all of this when I first began meditating a year ago, but I was still surprised at how the practice altered my relationship with the digital world. At first, it wasn’t easy: After decades of swimming in the frenetic digital waters, I found that my mind was often too scrambled to accommodate much focus. Sitting calmly, quietly and attempting to sharpen my thoughts on the present moment was excruciating. For a while, I flitted among several meditation books and apps, trying different ways to be mindful without pain.
Then, about four months ago, I brute-forced it: I made meditation part of my morning routine and made myself stick with it. I started with 10 minutes a day, then built up to 15, 20, then 30. Eventually, something clicked, and the benefits became noticeable, and then remarkable.
The best way I can describe the effect is to liken it to a software upgrade for my brain — an update designed to guard against the terrible way the online world takes over your time and your mind.
Now, even without app blockers, I can stay away from mindless online haunts without worrying that I’m missing out. I can better distinguish what’s important from what’s trivial, and I’m more gracious and empathetic with others online. As far as I know, people are still wrong on the internet, but, amazingly, I don’t really care anymore.
The benefits of daily meditation Manjoo describes are the subject of Creative’s Get Wise: Mindfulness for Attorneyscourse, which is approved for CLE credit. In my experience, attorneys can improve their law practice with a minor investment in a daily meditation practice. And the need for a regular meditation practice is an urgent one: attorneys are among the most stressed of working professionals in America.
“I can anticipate your excuses,” Manjoo concludes. “First, this is all very old news: As Buddhists have known forever, meditation is really good for you, and The New York Times’s new Op-Ed columnist is On It. And second, it’s all a bit too woo-woo — it sounds promising, but you’re not one to go full Goop. Still, I hope you give it a try. I hope everyone does. ...I’m not promising meditation will fix everything about how the internet has ruined you. But what if it does?”
Also, check out the Calm book:
Tristan McCallis is the pen name for an attorney who authors articles on changes needed in the legal profession. He can be contacted at TristanMcCallis@gmail.com