Mindful Engagement and Relational Lawyering
28 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2019
Date Written: May 31, 2019
Mindful engagement is a relational approach to mindfulness, and a mindful approach to being relational, in law and in life. It is about cultivating habits of mind and practices that can inform a wholehearted approach to lawyering, which means bringing our emotional and bodily awareness as well as our analytical minds fully into our work. Mindful engagement contemplates the interconnection and integration of engagement with oneself, with others interactively, and with communities and larger social institutions and systems.
This definition of mindful engagement resonates with the work of mindfulness scholars and researchers Ron Purser and David Loy, who focus on the distinction between mindful engagement and mindfulness as a method solely for personal self-fulfillment. While acknowledging the possible value of a more individualistic approach to mindfulness, they embrace an engaged approach as offering greater potential to reflect on and address the causes and conditions of suffering in the broader environment. In their view, to become a genuine force for positive personal and social transformation, mindfulness must reclaim an ethical framework and aspire to purposes that take into account the well-being of all living beings.
The purpose of this article is to build upon and contribute to the work of these and other scholars and teachers across many disciplines who believe mindful engagement can lead to more healing and other positive change in the world. My specific focus is on how we can use the relational lawyering framework I have been developing to teach and support mindful engagement as a set of core competencies in legal education and law practice, and through that effort, reduce suffering and improve the wellbeing of the legal profession and the communities we serve.
Keywords: mindfulness, mindful engagement, relational lawyering, social justice, legal education
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