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Re-owning time and space through mindfulness and simplification

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Before he ever became self-employed, a fellow law firm trial lawyer friend of mine said of an irritating opponent: "Just like us, he juggles his workday, trying to decide what work obligation to tackle next." One day I bumped into a very able civil trial law firm co-owner against whom I had litigated against. He asked me how my workload was going. When I answered how well it was going, I asked him how his was going, he said "I have no time.

To really know how well one can manage time and stress, a good way is to become a self-employed trial lawyer — as I am — handling the scheduling demands of judges, the need to assist many clients in one day, the need to manage law firm administration and staff, and the need to find a way to bring new clients in the door.

I have repeatedly blogged on the great personal and professional results that I derive from mindfulness and meditation, which for me go hand in hand. Many people may say they do not have time for such pursuits. To them I ask: Do you take time to sleep, brush your teeth, wash your clothes, and eat your meals? The basics of mindfulness can be learned quickly. Mindfulness can be practiced in each moment of your day. Try it and see the amazing benefits that result.

Time is a constant challenge for trial lawyers and most other people. Judges move along litigation calendars sometimes at seemingly dizzying speeds. Opposing lawyers are prioritizing their workloads in ways that often have them not give much consideration to settlement negotiations until farther off in time. Clients have questions and concerns and want to get timely responses.

By starting each day with quiet mindfulness practice, the sediment in our mind settles, opening up time abundance in handling the day’s challenges and not feeling stress from being in the spatial presence of stressed drivers, pedestrians, and others. Taking time for quiet mindfulness practice before going to sleep helps assure an uncluttered and deep sleep, so as to wake up refreshed and ready for the next day, rather than groggy from waking in the middle of the night from feelings of constant challenges.

Once we feel that we own our time and the space around us, then instead of viewing as an imposition each demand from a judge, phone call, and previously-seeming urgent mails and emails, we can better welcome each challenge as a new moment to be enjoyed and for further practicing our mindfulness, and see requests from others as being as welcomed as requests from ourselves. Then the abundance and magic of our power unfolds from one moment to the next.

When we feel in harmony with time and space — not feeling frazzled and stressed, and not judging ourselves, others, nor events — that is contagious for others, including the judge or prosecutor who does not feel similarly calm and harmonious.

Part of all of this is to be ready to work — wisely with one’s time and emotions, while making time for rest and relaxation — on oneself, on one’s personal relationships, on one’s personal development, and at one’s job. The work is to be welcomed. As taijiquan master Chang Man Ch’ing once pointed out to his students in motioning towards a cemetery, there is a later time for additional resting.