Most of us stay as busy as possible all the time—whether we realize that’s what we’re doing or not. We are texting, we’re on social media, we play games on our phones. We even multi-task and check emails in several accounts, while pinning pictures on pinterest, updating our statuses on facebook, our photos on instagram, and tweeting about all kinds of things. We are online all the time—for school, for work, and even in our private lives. We might even feel really uncomfortable with silence or the idea of sitting around and purposely thinking of nothing. As Alan Watts, a philosopher whose work you may recognize from youtube or his many books, says, we have become addicted to thoughts.
But thoughts are good, right? Well, of course they are, especially in law school! But so is putting them at bay so we can focus on the here and now every once in a while. Try this, ask yourself, when is the last time you weren’t either worrying about the future or re-hashing the past? It’s tough to stay in the present moment, particularly as a law student when absolutely everything you do is to get you ready for the future—your exams and your career as a lawyer.
We at the Law School Toolbox have tried out some meditation techniques using phone apps and other resources, and we have found that cultivating this kind of practice (even if you start small!) can really help with staying focused, keeping calm on exams, and even being more positive in our daily lives. If you want some practical tips for beginning a meditation or mindfulness routine of your own, check out this post from our very own law school expert, Lee Burgess, on About.com. I would also encourage you to try out a free app like Headspace if you’re curious about what meditation is and want an easy, quick introduction.
So, what are some benefits you might see after you start making an effort to be more mindful? Here are just a few:
You might feel more calm than frenzied.
A lot of people who begin to focus on mindfulness a little bit each day start noticing that instead of humming with frantic energy and rushing around from one item on their to-do list to another, they feel more relaxed and stable. They work through their day in a steady, methodical way, and if they start feeling overwhelmed, they draw on their practice of calming themselves down by taking deep breaths and focusing on the present. Training yourself to take a step back from freaking out and focus on your breathing can also be a valuable trick everyone should get good at in preparation for final exams.
You may notice you have more patience.
Law school could aptly be described as one big stressful situation. I get it. Have you ever noticed how when you’re super stressed, even really minor annoyances can be completely aggravating? A restaurant gets your take-out order wrong, you misplace your keys, a well-meaning friend doesn’t understand why you’re so busy all the time. If you start teaching yourself how to take a pause, take a deep breath, stay in the moment and think about the big picture, these little things might matter less to you and might even feel less stressed out.
You might be nicer to people.
One fantastic benefit of being calmer and more positive is that you’re usually a much more pleasant person to be around. You may find yourself responding to tough situations and difficult people with compassion and empathy rather than annoyance. It’s almost like being more mindful buries your nerves a little bit deeper. You might find that things and people that normally grate on you might not anymore.
You could get a better night’s sleep.
Being able to calm yourself down and let the noises, stress, and irritations of the outside world wash over you instead of affecting you at every turn is definitely a learned skill. It’s something I’m sure we can all improve upon! Even if you’re not great at tuning out your environment yet, though, practicing trying can be a useful way to block out noise, stop your ruminating thoughts and worries, and get some quality rest, which, let’s face it, all law students need a little more of!
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And check out these helpful posts:
- Can Meditation Help You Be More Productive and Effective
- Mindset – The Key to Success in Law School
- 4 Steps to Managing Law School Material
- How to Cope When You’ve Got Too Much Going On
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