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All Battlefields Present the Possibility of Success

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Plenty of people expend enormous energy avoiding toxic people, toxic situations and air pollution. However, even when we least expect it, we will have many trying times involving physical and even mental health issues, relationships with others, and generally dealing with the world around us.

It might be tempting to retreat from the challenges of the daily hustle-bustle by retreating to a desolate mountaintop, at least until boredom and freezing temperatures set in, bugs eat you alive in the summer, you get tired of having to travel one hundred miles even to a mediocre grocery store, and noisy construction starts next door for the newest Dollar Store and McDonalds.

An essential ingredient to reaching true personal satisfaction is to work on internal balance and harmony so as not to be thrown into an emotional tailspin from someone farting in the elevator, from environmental stench, from a bunch of seeming buffoons in the rest of the rooms at your resort hotel room, and the list goes on.

As a criminal defense lawyer, my practice of internal balance and well-being is all the more important while, among the many good things and people I experience, I regularly encounter plenty of clients expressing low moods and even anger, too many prosecutors ready to fight without a heart and even to try to throw sand in their opponents’ eyes, and too many judges at best chasing dockets rather than fulfilling their judicial oaths of office to enforce the laws and Constitution.

Consequently, to achieve internal harmony, one must have daily time — even if sometimes only at brief moments — to oneself to experience calm quiet and one must also regularly interact with the surrounding world, even to the point of being in the belly of the beast. That is what my daily taijiquan practice is about — maintaining calm in the eye of the storm through enjoying the solitude of practicing the t’ai chi form combined with t’ai chi sparring with opponents running from the new to those using hard force when taijiquan is about using soft energy to opponents who are so achieved that they are blessings as teachers.

As with a fistfight, the stakes can be high in criminal defense. Humans and weather are very unpredictable, so I can only forecast how a judge and jurors might act, even with a flowchart of innumerable external variables, and even if I can seed the clouds to try to make rain. Therefore, repeatedly when a client asks me what our chances are with my client’s case, I remind my client that s/he and I can help write the answer to that question, with my being fully prepared for the litigation battle in a team with my client. A raindance may help me in getting grounded, but holistic and hard work are needed to carry the day.

I believe strongly that when I am in a state of spiritual, physical and mental well being, I perform and persuade best, in terms of strengthening myself, inspiring and winning for my clients, inspiring others to decide and act in my favor, not being a blockade to achieving what I want, and unblocking barriers to achieving my goals. If a lawyer walks into court not having bathed for a month, with a cloud of fleas around his hair, with rags for clothes drooped around his body, and stooped over in low self esteem, then he already has not only thrown in the towel, but has done the opposite of helping himself and others free themselves of blockages and not to create new blockages.

At my best, I approach every courthouse and all other battlegrounds as my home, and envision and internalize as sacred every inch of ground on which my client and I walk, every molecule of air that we breathe, and every person we deal with, even with people who are unaware of their sacredness and show an unawakened state through vile actions. At my best, I do not rush into the courthouse or courtroom, but instead start with a loving kindness prayer for myself, my client, and everyone else inside that building, and see the building itself as my inanimate friend and everyone I encounter as a potential ally, welcoming the potential for victory and success in each moment, in each step, with each word I speak and with each movement of my mind and body. Like a great comedian who can rouse the most moribund and cranky audience, I have the potential to turn around even the seemingly most intransigent skeptic of criminal defendants and civil liberties. That will not happen, of course, if I do not open myself up to everyone, never judging them.

My teacher Ihaleakala Hew Len insists that internal cleaning is the solution both to clear blockages within ourselves and others and to reach abundance. To him, every time we face a hurdle with others and with situations, we need to work on ourselves, not on changing others. That might sound overly simplistic, but much of it makes sense. For instance, rather than my getting annoyed at unhappy Manhattan subway commuters knocking into me rushing to work while I am there for a few days off with my family, I need to simply make a minor mental adjustment to get no more annoyed at that than at an unexpected wind shotgunning New Jersey river stench into my nostrils.

Some people may be so comfortable embroiled in daily discomfort that they destroy a moment of true bliss by wondering when it will end with a car smashing into them, someone hurling a bigoted epithet, or a diagnosis of cancer. Of course, if one is in true harmony, s/he will drive in a way — and at times and in places — that will make a car crash less likely; will enable at once firmness and compassion for the ignorance and pain of bigots, and will recognize vicious words for the wind that they are; and will have better physical immunity against disease in the first place. It is possible to reach a point of being both compassionate and responsive to the suffering of all, while knowing that circumstances are neutral, and that we can be as calm in the midst of apparent chaos as Al Calavicci in Quantum Leap.

As Wayne Dyer reminds us, we all come from the same abundant source, so not only do we not need to struggle with scarcity nor the risk of scarcity, but we are capable of great things, and should be inspired by others doing great things rather than feel resentment when others seem to be leaping light years ahead of us.

Back to my daily litigation battles, when I follow the above roadmap, I am both grounded and relieved of unnecessary blocking burdens, having the battleground as my playground, while in the best shape possible to win. My clients and I deserve no less.