Saving the Lawyers One Breath at a Time: Mindfulness in the Law

The role of a lawyer in a democratic society is significant in that lawyers ensure that the democracy is functional and its citizens enjoy fundamental human rights. Acting as advocates and advisers, lawyers also play an important role in virtually all business transactions in this country. And yet, as critical as they are to society, lawyers are reported to be the most frequently depressed occupational group in the United States. A new study by the American Bar Association and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation found that 28 percent of over 12,825 practicing lawyers polled reported a problem with depression. This is over three times the rate found in the general...
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How One Judge Is Using Meditation To Bring Healing After A Crime

When Georgetown professor and Magistrate Judge Gretchen Rohr first met Erica Huggins in 1994, she was surprised to find that Huggins, who was formerly incarcerated and later released and acquitted of all charges, was not an angry person despite what she had been through. “She was not at all what I would have pictured,” Rohr said. “She has an amazing amount of compassion and a great sense of peace.” When Rohr asked Huggins how she was able to do her work without getting distracted by hatred or anger, Huggins answer was simple: Meditation. Rohr adopted the practice into her daily life, which helped her feel a deeper connection to the reason she entered law...
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Video of our Mindfulness-Based Wellness & Resiliency Program in Oregon

Mindfulness is making a difference in the lives of an unlikely group: prison guards. Officers in Oregon’s Department of Corrections are starting to use the calming tactic, which just requires a person to focus on their breathing and be present in the moment, in prisons. Research shows mindfulness can also abate anxiety, boost the brain and improve sleep. And for those who work in high-stress professions like corrections, these perks of the practice are vital to a good quality of life. Click here to continue reading this article by Lindsay Holmes in the Huffington Post. 

Documentary Explores Meditation in Mexico Prisons

When Greg Hopkinson walked into one of the most violent prisons in Mexico – a jail where 44 inmates died in a battle between rival drug cartels – the experience was mind-blowing. “It was just unbelievable – the peace, contentment, and stillness in the place was palpable. “Effectively we walked into this massive meditation retreat.” What changed? How did Apodaca prison in Monterrey, Mexico, go from the scene of a violent uprising in 2012 when members of the Zetas drug gang slaughtered rival Gulf cartel inmates to a place of peace and stillness? It was through a practice known as Ascension meditation. Today, a quarter of the 2000 prisoners, guards...
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How Can Mindfulness Help Society?

How Can Mindfulness Help Society? A Dialogue with Professor Richard Davidson and Acharya Fleet Maull Most people characterize mindfulness meditation as a solitary practice that provides individual benefits. But mindfulness practice can also be thought of as an action with widespread relational and social implications. University of Wisconsin neuroscientist Richard Davidson and renowned contemplative teacher Fleet Maull recently took part in a dialogue at the Holy Wisdom Monastery in Madison, WI, exploring how we can apply the benefits and insights of contemplative practice and contemplative neuroscience to our most challenging social issues. The video recording of the dialogue has now been made available here.   Fleet Maull Fleet Maull is...
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Federal Judge Preaches the Value of Mindfulness

The “mindfulness” movement has made inroads in the legal industry, particularly drawing in lawyers who say the Zen-inspired blend of meditation, breathing exercises and focus techniques helps combat job stress. But judges, too, could benefit from mindfulness, says U.S. District Judge Jeremy D. Fogel, director of the Federal Judicial Center in Washington, D.C. The center, the research and education arm of the federal judiciary, has posted online a paper he wrote encouraging fellow jurists to give the practice a shot. “While much of the discussion of mindfulness in relation to judges so far has focused on health and wellness, mindfulness also has obvious implications for the actual work that judges...
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Will meditation help stressed-out lawyers?

Research has demonstrated several positive physiological and psychological impacts of mindfulness training and meditation, including reduced stress, anxiety and depression, improved control over attention and enhanced working memory. However, do these same findings hold true for those people working in the highest stress fields? For one group of professionals, a Western researcher is trying to find out.   Western cognitive psychologist John Paul Minda is collaborating with San Francisco-based lawyer and author Jenna Cho on a project designed to investigate the relationship between mindfulness training and the well-being of attorneys.   To continue reading this article by Paul Mayne at Medical Xpress, please click here.

The Mindful Justice Initiative’s 2016 Report Now Available

The Mindful Justice Initiative is a collaboration between Prison Mindfulness Institute and Transforming Justice: The Center for Mindfulness and Criminal Justice in Berkeley, CA. The report includes information on the following topics: Systems Change, Starting from the Inside Mindfulness in the Criminal Justice System 2015 Mindful Justice Conference The San Jose Project Mindfulness for Police and Law Enforcement Mindfulness in Juvenile Justice Mindfulness in Jails and Prisons Judges, Prosecutors, and Public Defenders   Read a PDF of the full report here: MJI report Sept 2016

We Need to Talk About Justice

In an engaging and personal talk — with cameo appearances from his grandmother and Rosa Parks — human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson shares some hard truths about America’s justice system, starting with a massive imbalance along racial lines: a third of the country’s black male population has been incarcerated at some point in their lives. These issues, which are wrapped up in America’s unexamined history, are rarely talked about with this level of candor, insight and persuasiveness.

Mindful Justice Conference

In collaboration with the Berkeley Initiative for Mindfulness in Law, Prison Mindfulness Institute launched a Mindful Justice Initiative in 2014 and recently convened a Mindful Justice Conference at the Fetzer Institute’s Seasons Retreat Center with 24 influential leaders from the full spectrum of the U.S. criminal justice system, including current police and corrections officials, former judges, prosecutors and public defenders, victim advocates, program providers, law professors, restorative justice advocates and community activists. Meeting over four days, September 17 – 20, 2015, the group explored mindfulness-based approaches to transforming our criminal justice system and creating a system that is more humane, compassionate, effective and sustainable, one that is a force for healing...
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