Meditation for Law Students: Mindfulness Practice as Experiential Learning
Law and Psychology Review, Vol. 41, p. 157, 2017
13 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2016 Last revised: 1 Jun 2017
Date Written: September 9, 2016
In today’s competitive law school environment, research indicates that many students arrive in law school with anxiety or emotional difficulties or develop them due to stress inherent in law school studies. In fact, law school more than other course of graduate study creates stress-induced difficulties in students, and these difficulties often persist in the practice of law. When law schools teach mindfulness, they recognize that law students suffer from stress and its harms, and that mindfulness education may help to bring balance to the lives of law students. Mindfulness or meditation training provides one way for students to become present and accepting of their experiences and may help to alleviate stress-related problems. Students learn to be able to maintain focus and calm, even when their minds are busy, and gain a useful tool that they can use when addressing their school or professional work. Mindfulness practice combined with simulations involving the interpersonal skills of deep listening, counseling, interviewing, and negotiating satisfies the ABA requirement of experiential learning and offers students a new way to approach lawyering skills. Students learn to reflect, rather than react, while appreciating the intrinsic value of everyone involved in the interaction. Mindfulness training as experiential learning helps students to be ready to approach their professional experiences with focus, presence, acceptance, and compassion. By offering an experiential learning curricula that includes mindfulness education, law schools will further demonstrate that they care about the well-being of their students and are taking steps to help them to develop balance in their personal and professional endeavors.
Keywords: meditation, mindful Lawyering, law student distress, experiential learning, law school environment, mindful practice, stress reduction, well-being, legal profession, lawyers, self-awareness, self-management, mental health, depression, anxiety
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