Jeena Cho, a lawyer and Forbes contributor specializing in mental health, mindfulness, and work-life integration, finds it ironic that lawyers, who may not seem like the typical practitioners of mindfulness and meditation, are increasingly embracing these practices. She observes a growing trend of law schools, firms, and even top companies like Google and Goldman Sachs Group incorporating mindfulness training to improve concentration and emotional regulation.
1. Mindfulness Reduces Anxiety
Cho personally turned to mindfulness and meditation to alleviate her debilitating anxiety, which is often fueled by the nature of legal work that involves anticipating potential negative outcomes in cases. A study conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital in 2013 examined the effects of an 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program on individuals with diagnosed generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). The group that underwent MBSR showed a significant reduction in anxiety compared to a control group that received stress management education.
2. Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Implicit Age and Race Bias
As humans, we naturally rely on established associations and cognitive shortcuts to navigate our daily lives. While some of these shortcuts are necessary, they can become problematic when they reinforce biases, particularly related to age and race. In the context of criminal law, it is crucial for everyone involved, including police officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges, to be mindful of their own biases and work towards minimizing their influence on decision-making processes.
3. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) May Prevent And Treat Depression
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a combination of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). According to the American Psychological Association, MBCT is an eight-week program conducted in a group setting. It incorporates various mindfulness exercises such as yoga, body awareness, and daily tasks performed with full attention to the present moment.
4. Increase Body Satisfaction
Body dissatisfaction is a significant source of distress for women across different age groups. A study conducted by researchers Ellen R. Albertson, Kristin D. Neff, and Karen E. Dill-Shackleford assigned women to either a meditation intervention group or a control group. The intervention group received three weeks of self-compassion meditation training. Comparing the two groups, the women in the meditation intervention group experienced a notable reduction in body dissatisfaction, body shame, and contingent self-worth related to appearance. They also showed greater improvements in self-compassion and body appreciation, and these effects were still present three months later.
5. Mindfulness Meditation Improves Cognition
In a study published in the Consciousness and Cognition Journal in 2010, researchers divided participants into two groups. The intervention group consisted of 24 individuals who received four sessions of mindfulness meditation training, while the control group included 25 individuals who listened to an audio book. Both groups showed improved mood, but only the mindfulness meditation training group exhibited reduced fatigue and anxiety while increasing mindfulness. Additionally, brief mindfulness training led to significant enhancements in visuo-spatial processing, working memory, and executive functioning. The researchers concluded that four days of meditation training could enhance sustained attention, a benefit previously associated with long-term meditators.
6. Mindfulness Meditation Can Reduce Distractions In The Brain
In this 24/7 society where our attention is being pulled in a hundred different directions at once, it is more important than ever to practice concentration and focus. According to a Harvard study, “much as radio stations transmit at particular frequencies, brain cells use particular frequencies, or waves, to regulate the flow of information. The cortex, the outermost layer of the brain, contains touch, sight, and sound-processing cells. One frequency, the alpha rhythm, is particularly active in these cells and serves to suppress irrelevant or distracting sensations as well as control the flow of sensory information between brain areas.