We’re in the midst of a worldwide pandemic where billions of people are struggling to find answers and overcome uncertainties. As lawyers, we’re going through a tough time too. In this article, I’ll go through a simple exercise to help attorneys generate goodwill and compassion so that they better respond to the ongoing crisis. If this blog is helpful, please visit my first two blogs here and here on mindfulness practices to weather uncertainty.
Through the weekly webinar I’ve been hosting on Mindfulness for Managing Uncertainty, we’ve heard firsthand how attorneys are uncertain about a lot right now - their jobs, health, budget, and the time when they would be able to go back to the office again. We’re also uncertain about when the world would return to normal. The list of uncertainties goes on and on.
Our careers as lawyers are rooted in predictability (for ourselves, and through creating it for others). In the time of a crisis, we start experiencing a lack of predictability, control, and human connection. Eventually, we start getting hard on ourselves and remain less connected with others. Mindfulness practices that can help us stay collected, connected, focused, and sane in these difficult times.
Mindfulness Practice for Social Connection - Generating Good Will
Practicing mindfulness is about paying attention to our thoughts, feelings, and emotions without judgment. In previous mindfulness exercises, we discussed paying attention to our bodies and noticing our thoughts. In this practice on Generating Good Will, we’ll talk about our ability to curate goodwill for ourselves and others.
When I was first introduced to this meditation, it was a bit challenging for me. However, I continued doing it for about two months. With the passage of time, I started realizing its benefits and how it generates positive emotions. When I perform this exercise daily, it makes me feel like a more empathetic, connected and helpful person. These benefits are also shared in research driven studies.
We start by thinking about people that we care about and then we move on to others, going through a basic, guided meditation, which can be found here. We can generate goodwill towards a series of targets: a benefactor, the self, a neutral person, a challenging person, our community, and eventually all living beings.
Let’s get started:
1. Relax and breathe
Get into a meditation posture and prepare yourself to undergo a 10-15 minute meditation process. Sit somewhere comfortable and keep your eyes closed throughout the practice. Take a deep breath in and breathe out; relax your whole body. Deep breaths in and long breaths out. Try to achieve natural and comfortable breathing while relaxing all of your organs.
2. Think of someone who cares about you
Think of a person who cares about you, someone who embodies wisdom, care, and kindness without being judgmental. It could be someone from the past or present. It could be your mentor, a friend, or a family member. Just bring that person to your mind and imagine they are he is standing right in front of you. Wish them wellness, happiness, and wellbeing by reciting simple phrases; for example,
- may you be safe
- may you be happy
- may you be free from harm
- may you be healthy
Repeat these phrases five times, silently. You can use your own phrases to express wishes. Pay attention to your feelings when you wish them a happy and healthy life. Observe the energy flowing through your body.
3. Picture yourself
The next step is to picture yourself as a young child or a younger version of yourself standing in front of you. Now, imagine yourself standing in front of you sending you wishes by reciting the same phrases: “may you be safe, may you be happy, may you be free from harm, may you be healthy”. In other words, recite these phrases five times to yourself. Notice how your body responds as you think of yourself.
4. Think of a neutral person
Let’s bring someone neutral to your mind, probably a person you see in the office but don’t have many interactions with, or someone you see at the grocery store often. Now, send good wishes to whoever comes to your mind by repeating those phrases: “may you be safe, may you be happy, may you be free from harm, may you be healthy”.
5. Send wishes to everybody else
You have sent all the good wishes to yourself, a person that loves you, and a neutral person. It’s time to send wishes to your colleagues and co-workers. Again, repeat the phrases silently to send them wishes: “May you be safe, may you be happy, may you be free from harm, may you be healthy”. Bring your attention back to your breath. Take deep breaths in and out, and bring this exercise to a conclusion by extending a little bit of kindness to yourself. Open your eyes when ready.
Don’t forget to track
It’s important that you observe your feelings and mood every time you perform this practice. Track your uncertainties and the impact of this meditation on your feelings and thoughts. You can find the spreadsheet here to document your findings.
Human beings have a natural capacity to generate goodwill and kindness. Loving-kindness meditation is a natural way to strengthen your feelings of kindness and connection toward others.
This simple meditation will take 10-15 minutes of your day. You’ll find a lot of value in this practice as it leads you to feel happy, less focused on yourself and more connected to others.