For Well-Being Week in the Law, CLA asked mindfulness teacher Judi Cohen about her self-care journey and suggestions for lawyers and legal professionals.
How/Why did you get started in mindfulness?
I was a single mom with a tiny girl at home and also practicing law. I had a “hall pass” for the weekend, which was unusual, and went down to the Esalen Institute on a lark. The only class that sounded interesting was Introduction to Mindfulness with James Baraz. James is still my teacher. I began practicing that weekend and never looked back.
What is Warrior One?
Warrior One is an organization that offers mindfulness training to the legal profession. For over ten years, we have been studying and implementing programming for lawyers and law students, plus a bi-annual teacher training that brings Mindfulness for the Legal Mind to legal professionals where they live and work, at the front lines of personal, moral, ethical, and cultural battles. I also offer a course called Mindfulness for the Legal Mind to law students at Berkeley Law. Warrior One’s programming and my class are designed to support individual well-being, interpersonal effectiveness, and justice- and well-being-based advocacy. The intention throughout is to give participants insight into their own (legal) minds, tools to cultivate intentionally wise and compassionate states of mind, and ways to understand and end bias, to better serve, and positively influence colleagues, students, clients, communities, and the world.
As attorneys, how important is incorporating mindfulness into our lives? Why do we need it?
Mindfulness is probably the single most important tool any attorney can have in her toolbox. It will increase her focus and concentration, support her wellbeing, provide her with the courage and grace to meet the demands of the profession with equanimity, and give her insight into how to use her influence as a lawyer to heal herself, her clients, and the planet.
Do you have any suggestions or pointers for someone interested in beginning a meditation practice?
Find a teacher and jump in! You can also start with some of the apps like InsightTimer or Calm. Warrior One offers a free, 20-minute mindfulness gathering on Thursday mornings from 8 to 8:20, which includes a brief, 10-minute mindfulness talk and a 10-minute mindfulness meditation. Your firm, organization, or bar association — like this one! — might also offer training and mindfulness sitting groups. Take advantage of whatever you can — the time you devote will come back to you in multiple ways, and you’ll see how the practice can bring you greater joy as well.
How has the pandemic changed the mindfulness space?
Basically, everything went online. We are even conducting our teacher training online. There’s a downside in that the direct human contact is lost, but there’s a tremendous upside in terms of accessibility: you can find sitting groups at any time of day or night, sit with and learn from the very best Eastern and Western teachers, and even put together your own group, all from the comforts of your own home or office. I would say we have a lot to be grateful for in terms of
If you had one suggestion/”tip” for an attorney reading this article today, what would it be?
Find a mindfulness teacher or training and put your heart into it. It might just save your life.