Jul 24, 2011 More lessons on the persuasive power of being here now and not dwelling in the past nor kvetching over the future
A tremendous amount of human depression seems connected to dwelling on the past and worrying/kvetching about the future. Certainly, just about everyone has made major blunders in the past for which they will pay for the rest of their lives, which helps account for all the dwelling in the past and kvetching about the future.
Nevertheless, the now is all that is real. The past cannot be changed, but can only be corrected, explained away, and neutralized in our perception and others’ perception as best we can. The future can be prepared for, but not perfectly predicted.
I simultaneously learned, largely through my practice of t’ai chi and related lessons, that fearlessness of death and other future events leads to more power as a person and persuader; that fear of death and the future increases the risk of sickness and death, including through stress-induced ailments; and that fear of death and other harm increases the chances of having one’s head lopped off by the opponent’s proverbial samurai sword. Moreover, one who hesitates can die, or at least suffer severe defeat. One who fears can die, and fear breeds hesitation.
Each day that I miss t’ai chi self-practice, and each weekend that I miss t’ai chi group practice is a missed opportunity. The weekend group form and push-hands t’ai chi practices (during the summer in Carderock Park on Sunday mornings, 8:00-10:00 a.m.) provide me all the more impetus to make time to daily practice t’ai chi the rest of the week. My daily t’ai chi practice provides me all the more impetus to attend group practice, to help improve my daily practice and to get a sense of my progress in individual and group practice.
Here is what I learned today through push hand practice: One cannot pull me down from my wrist when I think upwards & make slight mental and physical adjustments along the way. Yielding to the opponent without breaking the movement, being mindful, and making at least slight mental and physical adjustments are essential in t’ai chi; the whole body must move as a single unit. The foregoing is essential to all life’s conflicts, challenges, and difficult changes, including all aspects of persuasion in and out of court.
For me to improve and test my development with te above-discussed principles, it is not enough for me to practice with those of like mind, but to practice such principles with everyone. Certainly, I will not intentionally invite someone to spend free time with me who is clearly toxic and not likely to change. That does not mean that I am going to avoid any work or daily activity that involves toxic people and actions; if that were the case, I would not be doing criminal defense, seeing that so many prosecutors, police, opposing witnesses, probation agents, jailers, judges (even one toxic judge is too many), some other criminal defense lawyers (e.g., those representing co-defendants and snitches), and numerous criminal defendants spew toxicity too often. Maintaining calm in the eye of the storm helps test one’s calm and increase one’s calm.
When I submitted a variation of my article on maintaining calm in the eye of the storm to a criminal defense lawyers’ newsletter, I receive, predictably, reactions running from questions about where the newsletter had gone that mine would be the front page article (nobody else had submitted one, except for perhaps the president’s column) to congratulating me for presenting it.
Considering such resistance to my discussing my approach to trial defense, it is all the more important to get to people early on, at the childhood stage. In that regard, a recent online book review on the website of my alma mater Tufts University covers Christopher Willard’s Child’s Mind: Mindfulness Practices to Help Our Children Be More Focused, Calm and Relaxed (Parallax Press). As the reviewer says: "Studies have shown that children can learn to regulate their emotions and concentrate better with the aid of mindfulness practices. Even children with attention deficit disorders have learned to concentrate better using these kinds of exercises."
Concentration and mindfulness practice helps put people in the now which is the only place to be to be powerfully persuasive and as healthy as possible.
Of course being in the now means adjusting as each second and millisecond passes. It is not enough for me to yield to the opponent’s push and not to follow-up with a counterpush or other appropriate reaction in the present moment.