Meditation Tips from the ABA Young Lawyers Division

In keeping with the theme of lawyer wellness and the ABA Young Lawyer Division’s #Fit2Practice initiative, the YLD Member Resources Team launched a 30-day meditation challenge on February 1, 2019. The #Fit2Practice initiative focuses on four pillars of lawyer wellness: mental health, sleep, nutrition, and exercise. As part of the mental health pillar, the Member Resources team put their heads together and came up with a new meditation tip each day for 30 days. The tips were posted on the YLD’s social media channels, and participants were encouraged to meditate together and post about their progress.

Start your own 30-day challenge at any time. Or better yet, get a group of friends or colleagues together and encourage each other to meditate together every day for 30 days. Whether you’re a seasoned practitioner or just starting out, these tips can help you develop your meditation practice and reap the benefits of this simple technique for greater well-being.

  1. Use an app. Many apps blend helpful technology with meditation techniques. Download a free app like Insight Timer for thousands of guided meditations, a meditation timer, and to create a profile to track your meditation stats and habits.
  2. Practice daily. It is more important to have a consistent short practice than practicing for long periods erratically. Try starting out with five minutes a day.
  3. Sit up straight, comfortably, and still. If you lie down, the mind tends to fall asleep. And if you stand or walk, the mind tends to be active.
  4. Keep your eyes closed to allow you to bring your attention inward and fully rest.
  5. Let’s face it. It is hard to focus. Our lives are hectic. Are you having trouble focusing during meditation? Try some background noises: Tibetan singing bowls, nature, rain, or white noise are some examples.
  6. Choose an anchor for your attention during meditation. Different anchors you can try are the breath, sounds in your environment, or sensations in the body. Notice any of these without judgment. When the mind wanders, bring the attention back to your anchor.
  7. Did you know that maintaining a gentle smile during meditation can help you feel relaxed and make the experience more pleasurable? Let yourself smile.
  8. Meditation is not about doing anything, it’s simply about observing. Pay kind attention to yourself, without judgment. Remember, “Right now it’s like this.”
  9. Taking a minute or two to meditate can feel as good as taking a nap. Take five minutes for yourself, sit down, close your eyes, breathe normally, and feel the gratitude that comes with caring for yourself.
  10. Take a slice of your weekend to close your eyes and think about nothing but your natural breath flowing in and out of you. No need to take deep breaths. Clear your mind and imagine your body being cleansed by breath as you meditate.
  11. Start your week with meditation. Use part of the quiet time to think about and set intentions for your week ahead.
  12. Try setting an alarm on your phone or desktop as a meditation reminder. Try not to ignore your reminder and reap the benefits of consistent daily practice.
  13. Find freedom in relinquishing control by letting your thoughts wander into nothingness.
  14. While you’re showering others with love, don’t forget about yourself!
  15. Be grateful for and focus on your progress since you began meditating.
  16. By paying attention to waves of emotion and the physical sensations associated with them, we can better respond, rather than react. This practice of paying attention to feelings and sensations during our meditation practice will make us more mindful as strong emotions come up in our personal or work lives and allow us to choose a response we won’t regret.
  17. Visualization is a powerful tool for success. Use your meditation time to visualize yourself doing well while delivering an oral argument, or in a negotiation, or succeeding in an upcoming challenge. You’ll be more mentally prepared when you imagine everything that can go right rather than everything that can go wrong.
  18. Meditation creates real, visible positive changes. Share your progress and the changes you’ve noticed to encourage others to meditate too.
  19. End your meditation slowly. Gradually become aware of your body and surroundings and then open your eyes.
  20. Need energy to get you over a weekday hump? Take five and meditate.
  21. Some studies have shown that it takes at least 21 days to form a habit. Tip: Remain positive. If you skip a day or two, don’t get discouraged. Just get back into the game as soon as you can.
  22. Don’t sit and meditate on a full stomach. You don’t want to doze off.
  23. Guided meditations are a great resource for those just starting out or seasoned meditators who are looking to deepen their practice. For new meditators, guided meditations can help you focus your awareness and more quickly quiet down racing thoughts. Insight Timer has thousands of free guided meditations and even multi-day courses spanning a variety of topics.
  24. Share the benefits of meditation with others. Invite friends and family to join you in a few minutes of meditation, either together or remotely. You can use text messages to share when you meditate or have a set time each day when you meditate. The shared experience will keep you more motivated and accountable!
  25. It’s never too late to start a meditation practice. And now is always the best time.
  26. Pay attention to your breath. This is a nice way to anchor yourself in the present moment. Don’t regulate it; just be natural.
  27. Make meditation a priority.
  28. Reward yourself. Use positive reinforcement to enable your new, good behavior.
  29. It can sometimes be difficult to get the mind to quiet down. Ambient sounds help to create a soothing atmosphere for thoughts to settle and ease to flow in. Insight Timer has a great selection of ambient background sounds that you can play during any length of meditation. Headphones help too.
  30. If you have felt the positive difference meditation has made in your daily life, why not try for another 30 days?

About the Author

Christina Sava is an attorney with Anthony Law Group in Oakland, California, and speaks on mindfulness and meditation to groups of professionals around the country.

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