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The Challenge of Holistic Law Practice

In working with clients to break through learned conditioning and habitual reactions that have led to, or exacerbated, legal disputes, holistic law strives to tap into the inner wisdom of participants as the primary source of optimal solutions.  In orienting the identification of solutions towards clients, holistic law presents a fundamental challenge to the entrenched paradigm in which clients primarily look to the attorney for answers and solutions.

In addition to the client-centric solution focus, holistic law practice presents a serious challenge to the livelihood of many attorneys who have made their living as advocates within an adversarial system.  Given this direct challenge, it should be expected that the holistic law movement will be met with formidable resistance from the predominant legal establishment.

For the first time, however, there is an emerging segment of the public that has engaged in mindfulness training and practice, and has come to experience and appreciate their inner wisdom apart from their learned conditioning.  Thus, conditions now exist for a shift away from the adversarial model, and towards a more client-centric or holistic model of law practice.

Litigation: The Outmoded Premise

In the context of civil dispute resolution, statutes, common law, and procedural rules are predicated on a dualistic notion of “justice.”  By this is meant that the entire system is built largely on the premise that one party is “right” and the other is “wrong.” It assumes that through vigorous advancements of divergent positions, “truth” will ultimately emerge enabling the trier of fact to fit this version of past events within laws and rules that legislators and courts have deemed minimally necessary for the successful functioning of society.

In recent decades, however, a far more expansive notion of “truth” has begun to permeate American culture.  This notion is largely based on a felt appreciation that we are not islands unto ourselves; that everything we do has impact on others in our lives, social institutions, the physical environment, etc.

When “truth” is considered in this more expansive fashion, one begins to appreciate how limiting the truth within our current adversarial model clearly misses the mark.  Disputes “resolved” based upon this fallacious premise and narrow concepts of “right” and “wrong” may provide some fleeting sense of victory to one or more litigants, but most often does little to successfully address the multitude of competing interests that usually come to bear on any civil dispute.

The new holistic mediation model springs from a premise that individual parties, largely as the result of past conditioning, most often approach disputes with quite myopic ideas about an optimal solution to the conflict before them. While one party may have acted outside the bounds of propriety, or failed to conform his or her behavior to a requisite baseline of due care, thus causing another party to be “wronged,” the expansive view of truth recognizes that, in most cases, hurtful behavior springs from internal suffering in the life of the actor.  Being branded as “wrong” at the conclusion of a litigation proceeding is only likely to exacerbate the suffering of the actor or actors, thus leading to further undesirable behavior in the future.  In this way, the traditional adversarial model largely fails to address the underlying issues with compassion, and in ways instilling the true, felt sense that “we are all in this together.”

When this notion of interconnectedness becomes the foundational premise of our dispute resolution model, we will have moved beyond our current adversarial system and toward the resolution of disputes in a way offering far more optimal and sustainable solutions.

To learn more about holistic mediation, contact Holistic Lawyer and Mediator Michael Lubofsky at (415) 508-6263, or visit http://www.holistic-lawyer.com.

Mindfulness: Beyond Stress Relief and Towards a Better World

Like most people who find their way to mindfulness practice, I did so many years ago in efforts to find more sustainable solutions to dealing with stress as a driven, young attorney in my late twenties.  In what was an early incarnation of what is now called mindfulness-based stress reduction, or MBSR, I did find that by becoming more mindful of my breath, I could slow down my heart rate.  The ability to do this seemed to give me a sense of relief that, up until that time, I may have thought would have only been available from solutions existing outside of myself in the form of food, drink, other people, etc.

I had no awareness or knowledge at that time of any sort of template for living in a way that could potentially transform that sense of relief into deep, sustainable inner peace.  Even if such a template had been presented to me at that time, I would have thought it to be so contrary to my priorities that it would have been quickly dismissed.

For years, actually decades, I continued to practice meditation almost solely for the physiological relief it afforded me from the typical stressors of contemporary American life.  For a good deal of this time, however, I pretty much continued thinking and acting consistent with conditioning I had internalized through my formative years.  This conditioning, I can now appreciate in retrospect, had forged a strong egoic identity that was largely impermeable to the notion that I might look upon life in fundamentally different ways.

But as will often happen as we get older, life has ways of humbling just about everyone.  Over time, we amass wisdom of experience that may, at some point, serve to penetrate the ego and open us to new ways of thinking and being in the world.  Once this door is opened, we can begin trying new ways of orienting towards life experience.  We can begin to let go of maladaptive strategies and behaviors.  We can walk out into life with an open sense of wonder and begin to experiment with new ways of being that would have previously been too threatening to the ego.

At this point, through trial and error, as well as with the benefit of wisdom from others who have walked this path over millennia, we can come to identify specific ways of being and acting in the world that actually deepen our inner peace for beyond stress relief.  What is most amazing, though, is finding that those ways of being and behaving that most foster inner peace are actually those ways of being and behaving that help others, make the world more compassionate, promote health and well-being, reduce waste, promote sustainability, constructively resolve conflict, etc.

Even as an experienced practitioner, however, I encounter times when my conditioning, together with societal norms, cause me to question the purpose or value of sustaining a spiritual practice beyond “stress reduction.”  After all, much of what is required is contrary to behaviors that are “valued” in contemporary American society.

The answer to this question, though, I have come to view as the ultimate win/win scenario.  What I have found is that the behaviors and ways of being in the world that help others and actually treat the world in a far more sustainable way are actually the behaviors that provide me with inner peace and clarity.  When venturing out into the world with this foundation, life becomes far more interesting as behavior is not driven and limited by egoic notions of how life “should” be.

To learn more about the benefits of mindfulness practice, especially as applied to legal disputes and conflict resolution, please contact Holistic Lawyer Michael Lubofsky at (415) 508-6263, or visit http://www.Holistic-Lawyer.com.

 

What is Mindfulness?

At its core, mindfulness refers to a felt sense of present-moment experience. This felt sense fundamentally differs from time caught in thought-driven judgements, interpretations, stories, fears, expectations, etc.  These latter mental formations though “real” are far more than often not “true” and often serve to disconnect one from present-moment experience – the only experience within which true happiness and inner peace can ever be realized.  Sustained or predominant conditions of disconnect cannot only lead to a persistent sense of life dissatisfaction, but may serve as a precursor to significant life difficulties including physical ailments, relationship problems, and substance abuse.

In recent years, American culture has been so inundated with “mindfulness” concepts, strategies and services that its meaning has become diluted and almost synonymous with calm or relaxation.  Through anxiety reduction is a common byproduct of “mindfulness,” it should be looked upon as just that – a byproduct – not a primary goal of mindfulness training.

By helping practitioners view and appreciate the mind with significantly improved clarity, he or she comes to realize far less reactivity to life situations and a new freedom of choice to select from among a range of responses to any given situation.  This renewed response-ability can lead to far more creative and flexible solutions to life’s inevitable challenges both within the personal and professional realms.  More than 2,500 years ago, Siddartha Gautama (later referred to as “Buddha”), termed this optimal end result as “the end of suffering” or “enlightenment.”

But the prescription for “the end of suffering” laid out by Buddha is more involved than just taking a deep breath.  He laid out an eight-fold path that, through practice, can greatly facilitate one’s ability to remain connected to present-moment experience and optimize inner peace.  Additionally, sustained connection to present-moment experience or we can say “life,” over time, instilling a heightened sense of connection to all of life, and all beings in ways that produce empathy and compassion.  When one’s decisions and actions spring from this empathy and compassion, solutions are conceived and actions are taken that are truly in the best interest of all of life, not narrow self-interests that usually are unsustainable on either micro or macro levels.

Thus “mindfulness” significantly transcends mere stress reduction.  It holds the key to a world in which human beings act with a felt sense of connection to all of life.  From this launching point comes the possibility of eradicating the most destructive problems facing individuals and society as a whole, while at the same time providing happiness and inner peace to individuals.  This transformative potential is why mindfulness has begun to seep into our culture, and is what I strive to introduce and cultivate in the lives of all those with whom I work.

Mediation: Often Not Just the Best Solution, the Only Solution

Defensive and aggressive reactions to conflict most often arise because of an inability to be heard and understood. At the heart of most conflict lies some core issue that, if recognized, acknowledged, and explored, would provide the seed for peaceful, optimal resolution, truly in the best interests of the parties and more broad societal context in which they live. Often, the failure to identify and explore these core issues will keep the parties locked into a dualistic, adversarial posture that will serve to escalate the conflict.

Whether a conflict involves one spouse not taking out the trash, a neighbor making too much noise, or a violent attack by a religious faction, one party to these activities feels on some level that they are not being heard – that core beliefs or concerns that they harbor are not being sufficiently acknowledged.

Our predominant adversarial model of “justice” overwhelmingly operates in a way that allows no exploration of underlying precipitants of conflict. Attorneys are specifically trained to elicit “facts” from clients that they will then apply to the law in crafting a litigation strategy. Unfortunately, a client’s recitation of “facts” in reality often constitutes a “story,” and excludes subconscious motivations of one’s behavior.

In order to begin exploring these less salient motivations of one’s behavior, an environment must be created that fosters an air of openness, respect, and trust so that individuals can become willing to explore and articulate underlying thoughts and emotions that may have led to, or exacerbated, the conflict. The structure of a courtroom, and the nature of civil procedure and rules of evidence, are antithetical to the creation of an open environment in which litigants might otherwise feel safe in exploring more sensitive thoughts and emotions.

By contrast, among the benefits of mediation are ground rules specifically laid to establish an environment of respect. Sharply honed listening skills and ability to empathize will help an experienced mediator quickly begin to create an environment conducive to the exploration of more vulnerable thoughts and feelings of the parties. Not bound by rules of procedure and evidence, the parties can begin to articulate what is truly important to them. Often what comes to the surface are thoughts and feelings of which the parties themselves were consciously unaware. The seeds are then sewn for the crafting of a solution that can truly address the core needs of all involved.

One might say that any solution falling short of this process is really no solution at all.

To learn more about the benefits of holistic mediation, contact Holistic Lawyer and Mediator Michael Lubofsky at (415) 508-6263, or visit http://www.Holistic-Lawyer.com.

Holistic Law: Overcoming Litigation’s Bias Toward Blame

Within a wide swath of civil litigation can be found a common denominator: The tendency of people in contemporary American society to sidestep responsibility for their own happiness and well-being, instead looking toward external factors to blame for undesirable outcomes or consequences.

Almost by definition, our predominant adversarial model of civil litigation encourages, cultivates, and solidifies blame.  For example, in filing an initial complaint to initiate a lawsuit, a plaintiff is basically required by procedural rules to allege facts that establish on their face what a defendant or defendants did wrong.  The plaintiff is then required to set forth a request for relief stating how these alleged improper or wrongful acts caused harm or loss.  Nowhere at this initial pleading stage would a plaintiff acknowledge any affirmative role that may have contributed to the harm of which he or she is complaining.

It is only at a more advanced stage of pleading that an adverse party may file a “Request for Admissions,” which would prompt a party to acknowledge that his/her/its actions or inactions may have contributed to the problem at hand.

So it often seems in a more broad societal context.  We seem conditioned to focus on external factors to explain our problems (and much of our happiness).  Many would maintain, however, that such thought-driven notions that attribute happiness or lack thereof to external factors are largely delusional.  Such a misguided orientation may go far in explaining why litigation “victories” resulting from the adversarial process seldom produce an enduring sense that the conflict has been resolved in any sort of optimal fashion.

In contrast, holistic law and mediation works to help dissolve defensiveness and entrenched conditioning to the point at which participants become better able to see through their misguided preconceptions.  They are then better able to objectively assess their acts or omissions that may have contributed to the current conflict.  At the same time, the cultivation of an empathic environment by the holistic lawyer or mediator facilitates this process as participants feel more understood and less judged for “mistakes” or “misunderstandings” that my have contributed to the conflict.

To learn  more about how holistic law and mediation can facilitate optimal, sustainable conflict resolution, contact Holistic Lawyer and Mediator Michael Lubofsky at (415) 508-6263, or visit http://www.Holistic-Lawyer.com.

Mediation Versus Litigation: Addressing a Larger Societal Problem

Within a wide swath of civil litigation can be found a common denominator: The tendency of people in contemporary American society to sidestep responsibility for their own happiness and well-being, instead looking toward external factors to blame for undesirable outcomes or consequences.

Almost by definition, our predominant adversarial model of civil litigation encourages, cultivates, and solidifies blame.  For example, in filing an initial complaint to initiate a lawsuit, a plaintiff is basically required by procedural rules to allege facts that establish on their face what a defendant or defendants did wrong.  The plaintiff is then required to set forth a request for relief stating how these alleged improper or wrongful acts caused harm or loss.  Nowhere at this initial pleading stage would a plaintiff acknowledge any affirmative role that may have contributed to the harm of which he or she is complaining.

It is only at a more advanced stage of pleading that an adverse party may file a “Request for Admissions,” which would prompt a party to acknowledge that his/her/its actions or inactions may have contributed to the problem at hand.

So it often seems in a more broad societal context.  We seem conditioned to focus on external factors to explain our problems (and much of our happiness).  Many would maintain, however, that such thought-driven notions that attribute happiness or lack thereof to external factors are largely delusional.  Such a misguided orientation may go far in explaining why litigation “victories” resulting from the adversarial process seldom produce an enduring sense that the conflict has been resolved in any sort of optimal fashion.

In contrast, holistic law and mediation works to help dissolve defensiveness and entrenched conditioning to the point at which participants become better able to see through their misguided preconceptions.  They are then better able to objectively assess their acts or omissions that may have contributed to the current conflict.  At the same time, the cultivation of an empathic environment by the holistic lawyer or mediator facilitates this process as participants feel more understood and less judged for “mistakes” or “misunderstandings” that my have contributed to the conflict.

To learn  more about how holistic law and mediation can facilitate optimal, sustainable conflict resolution, contact Holistic Lawyer and Mediator Michael Lubofsky at (415) 508-6263, or visit http://www.Holistic-Lawyer.com.

The Transformational Potential of Mediation

In conducting more than two dozen mediation sessions in Alameda County Superior Court, what is most glaringly apparent is the extent to which mediation participants enter mediation with all-defined, hardened positions.  Moreover, these individuals almost always are convinced that their interpretations of some event or events that have taken place in the past are the “correct” or “right” interpretation, and that the opposing party is simply “wrong.”

Through extensive mediation training and experience, a professional mediator becomes increasingly able to identify when a participant appears “locked into” a position, and then employ sensitive listening and empathic skills that may soon begin to loosen the grip of tightly-held, heavily egoic, positions.  It is the dissolving of these firmly held positions that begins to shift a mediation focus from positions to interests.

Freed from the grip of ego, one can begin to entertain an increasingly expansive notion of “interest” to transcend one’s “self interest” which may have predominated at the outset of the mediation.  “Interest” can then begin to more fully encompass a spouse, a family, a community, or even all of life.  In this way, mediation can serve a transformational function as a springboard for previously untapped solutions that transcend self-interest and serve to move the participants, as well as society at large, forward in more sustainable ways.

To learn more about how mediation might work for you, contact Meditator and Holistic Lawyer Michael Lubofsky by calling (415) 508-6263, or by visiting http://www.mindfulaw.com.

Mediation versus Litigation: The Answer Becomes Clear

Where holistic law practice has at its core wisdom borne from a grounded sense of being, it is only within the mediation forum that individuals are afforded the freedom and flexibility to access this wisdom and have this wisdom guide participants toward optimal dispute resolution.

In contrast, formal litigation imposes strict rules (e.g., rules of evidence) that ultimately ensure that disputes are settled based largely on objectively verifiable events.  By definition, admissible evidence excludes intuitive knowledge and other phenomenon arguably behind the realm of human thought, including compassion and empathy, as salient factors to be considered by the parties when attempting to fashion a remedy to a dispute.

While litigating parties may, individually, evoke and consult with unverifiable sources of knowledge such as intuition, compassion, etc., in determining his or her individual litigation strategy, the litigation process itself is designed to eliminate discussion and consideration of such factors when both parties are together before the tribunal.  The parties are thus denied the opportunity to reevaluate their respective positions in light of inner wisdom accessed and articulated by other parties with what litigation would deem “adversarial interests.”

From an evolutionary standpoint, it is understandable that interpersonal dispute resolution grew into a system that basically extracted emotion and unverifiable feelings from the equation.  It is not difficult to imagine that in a lesser evolved form, such emotion and visceral sense was likely to lead to chaos and physical violence.

It is also conceivable, however, that as a species we have evolved to a point at which we are beginning to recognize truth as lying beyond thought and objectively verifiable facts.  Holistic law practice, by helping clients disidentify from learned conditioning and habitual reactions, can facilitate heightened access to this inner wisdom.  A properly orchestrated mediation forum can ensure that the inner wisdom of all interested parties is elicited and properly considered in sculpting optimal dispute resolution.

To learn more about holistic law practice and its applicability in the mediation context, contact Attorney Michael Lubofsky at (415) 508-6263 or visit http://www.mindfulaw.com.

 

The Importance of Compassion in Effective Dispute Resolution

An increasing number of studies point towards the integral role that compassion and empathy for others plays in cultivating happiness and well-being. Compassion arises from a felt connection to all of life in the present moment. Compassion lies beyond thoughts and preconceived notions about a person or a given situation.

The typical adversarial approach to conflict resolution that pervades contemporary civil justice in America is rarely effective in cultivating compassion and/or empathy. Instead, one’s thought-driven notions of how things should be most often form the basis of an attorney’s litigation strategy.

Such a failure to elicit compassion and empathy can explain why, far more often than not, legal or “courtroom” victories ring hollow for a prevailing party soon after a fleeting sense of ego gratification dissipates.

In contrast to this prevailing adversarial model, holistic law practice has as a primary objective the cultivation of compassion and empathy prior to the development and implementation of a concrete legal strategy. A fundamental precept inherent in the holistic approach is that optimal, lasting solutions to interpersonal conflict arise from beyond ego, thought, and preconceived notions.

To learn more about holistic law practice, contact Holistic LawyerMichael Lubofsky at (4-5) 508-6263, or visit http://www.mindfulaw.com.

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