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Contemplative Practices Gain Prominence in the Legal Profession

The practices of mindfulness and insight meditation have gained ever greater prominence in recent years. Initial interest was expressed by medical and psychological professionals. Now legal educators and practitioners are exploring the uses of meditation and related practices. (More after the jump.)

Increasing numbers of Americans are practicing these meditative techniques for a number of reasons including stress reduction, dealing with chronic medical conditions, and enhancing quality of life. These contemplative practices are associated with the pioneering work of Jon Kabat-Zinn in designing pragmatic approaches to the use of ancient meditative techniques. They are associated with a number of centers including Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Insight Meditation Society, and the New York Insight Meditation Center, as well as programs associated with medical centers, such as the Penn Program for Stress Management.

The Law Program of the Center for the Contemplative Mind in Society features information about programs for law students, professors, lawyers and judges. If you are on the West Coast early next year, one of the program’s upcoming events is a Meditation Retreat for Law Professionals in the spring of 2008 in California.

Locally, a related event is a conference entitled Law as a Healing Profession (pdf) that will take place in early November at Touro College in Central Islip, New York. The website of the Law Program has a bibliography of books and articles related to mindfulness meditation as well as its application in the legal setting.

Contemplative practices adapted to modern, twenty-first century conditions are a powerful tool which today’s legal professionals are just beginning to explore.