Holistic Philosophy

Cultivating Calm in the Midst of Legal Problems

One of the basic tenets of Buddhist psychology can be distilled down to a single basic teaching:

That which we frequently ponder and think about becomes the inclination of the mind.

Many life situations that people would term “legal problems” involve some recognizable loss or threat of loss – loss of love, loss of identity, loss of comfort, loss of freedom, loss of physical well-being, etc.  Whether this loss is real or more a future projection, these experiences often precipitate further thoughts of danger to one’s perceived stability or station in life.  These thoughts then give rise to feelings of fear.  This fear than triggers a range of biochemical changes, as well as behavioral byproducts such as defensiveness, aggression, withdrawal or other avoidance behavior involving certain amount of disconnect from reality.

If we consider the above precept of Buddhist psychology, these extent to which we continue to entertain thoughts associated with loss will largely determine how “stuck” we become as negative thoughts associated with actual or feared loss become the inclination of the mind.

At such times it becomes especially important to take time to cultivate a grounded connection to present-moment experience.  It is this grounded connection, a felt sense of being, that is the antidote to the potentially incessant stream of negative ideation common during particularly challenging times.  To the extent that we can remain rooted in present-moment experience, our thoughts will tend to dissipate and even dissolve, giving way to an inclination of the mind towards expansiveness and compassion, even during the most challenging life situations.

As a holistic lawyer, I work with clients to help cultivate a more grounded and less reactive orientation towards challenging life situations.  It is this grounding that gives rise to optimal solutions to conflict.  To learn more about holistic law, visit http://www.holistic-lawyer.com, or call Holistic Lawyer Michael Lubofsky at (415) 508-6263.

Moving Beyond Divisiveness

In the current U.S. election, Donald J. Trump has campaigned on the slogan “Make America Great Again.”  The policies espoused by Mr. Trump as a roadmap to this “greatness” largely pit one faction against another, implying that his vision of “greatness” is necessarily dependent on the exclusion of others from this vision.

In addition, Mr. Trump has projected an immorality largely oblivious to the rule of law.  For example, when questioned on business practices that may have allowed him to avoid the payment of personal income taxes, perhaps for decades, he blames loopholes in the system, as if the system should be a dictator and enforcer of morality.

Stepping back from the candidates, however, what can become apparent is the energy with which a majority of the U.S. population is rejecting Mr. Trump’s underlying message.  The goal of this message appears to be to instill fear in as many people as possible as a means of garnering support for his divisive plans.

When we are in fear, our world becomes small, and our vision narrow.  We are triggered to acquire and even hoard what we can, even at the expense of others.

But we are on the cusp of a new consciousness that recognizes the importance of letting go of fear as a necessary precursor to building a sustainable, healthy society.  As a result of heightened mindfulness, increasing numbers of people are becoming experientially attuned to the reality that fear-driven behavior usually precipitates a downward spiral that destroys relationships, societies, and even life itself.

This fear-driven dynamic is also perpetuated by adversarial litigation.  When enmeshed in narrow fears, litigants clutch for whatever award they might realize.  This myopia operates largely to the exclusion of the interests of a much more broad circle of stakeholders.  Any decision made or action taken on such a basis is likely to be far less than optimal and actually harm relationships and society as a whole.

Holistic law practice, by rejecting the underlying notion of divisiveness inherent in adversarial litigation, is moving in step with our heightened societal mindfulness that has fueled much of the opposition to Mr. Trump’s divisive messages.

To learn more about how holistic law practice can help identify optimal solutions to conflict, please contact Holistic Lawyer Michael Lubofsky at http://www.Holistic-Lawyer.com, or by calling (415) 508-6263.

The Critical Role of Mindfulness in Dealing with Legal Issues

Mindfulness in general, and meditation practice in particular, serves to more firmly ground one in present-moment experience apart from thought-driven notions of how things need to be different than how they are in order to be “happy.”  It is the very thought that things can be any different than they are in reality that is misguided and at the root of much suffering and unhappiness.

Mindfulness in Law PracticeA similarly misguided expectation, however, is that dedicated mindfulness practice can successfully insulate us from any existential pain that appears inherent in the human condition.  Sickness, aging, and death may lie at one end of the spectrum, while more innocuous conditions such as boredom may lie at another end.  These conditions are inevitable; but the thought-driven notions of how these conditions should not exist in the first place are illusory and are what precipitate suffering on top of the inevitable challenges of reality.

Legal issues seem to trigger a range of painful experience. As with most experiences that lead to suffering, fear is often the underlying antecedent of the suffering.  In most cases, however, this fear arises out of a thought-driven layer imposed on a condition existing in reality.  The challenge, both for attorneys and clients embroiled in conflict, is to remain open to and accepting of the actual situation in realty without becoming hooked by conditioned thought and/or judgements about the situation.

The ability to remain grounded in our experience without becoming hooked by our intellectual processing of that experience lies at the heart of mindfulness practice, and is critical for clients and attorneys trying to successfully navigate challenging life situations.

In the throes of legal issues or conflict, the cultivation of this ability, or lack thereof, will largely determine one’s ability to identify optimal solutions to often complicated issues.  To the extent that one has become hijacked by his or her thoughts in response to a given scenario, behaviors and decisions are likely to become oriented towards allaying some subconscious fear, usually related to one’s ego.  Because of the largely illusory roots of such fears, decisions and behaviors based on motivations springing from these roots will prove largely unsatisfactory, and produce less than optimal solutions for all directly or indirectly impacted by the way in which the conflict is ultimately resolved.

Thus, the ability to identify and implement optimal behaviors in response to everyday life situations in general, and legal issues or conflict in particular, is critical for happiness and demands a high degree of consciousness cultivated through sustained mindfulness practice.

More often than not, when a client comes to an attorney for advice or representation, he or she is at least partially ensnared by underlying conditioning and disconnected from present-moment reality (i.e., the reality is that he or she is caught in learned conditioning or fear, which are real, but usually not based in present-moment reality).  The goal of holistic law practice is to first help the client identify this conditioning so that he or she can then consciously disidentify from that conditioning and more meaningfully connect with what is really going on.  In so doing, the client becomes far more able to let go of unwarranted fear and become, in general, less reactive to the situation.  In becoming less reactive, he or she begins to open to a far more broad range of approaches to potentially resolve the conflict.

To learn more about the benefits of holistic law practice as a client, contact Holistic Lawyer Mike Lubofsky at (415) 508-6263, or visit http://www.Holistic-Lawyer.com.  If you are an attorney interested in how to integrate mindfulness in law practice, visit http://www.mindfulaw.com.

 

How Mindfulness Improves Decision-Making

Mindfulness is especially valuable in conflict situations, or other situations that present challenges to central components of one’s perceived safety, self-concept, etc.  One recent study by Natalia Karelaia, Assistant Professor of Decision Sciences at INSEAD in France, suggests four central ways in which mindfulness can foster improved decision-making;

  1. Framing the Decision: As Dr. Karelaia explains, research demonstrates that mindful individuals are more likely to base decisions on their core ethical principles and, in so doing,  take action that tends to be more authentic.  Others making decisions with less mindfulness are more likely to find themselves led to a point at which they would prefer not to be;
  2. Gathering Information: While Dr. Karelaia notes some studies suggesting that mindfulness may serve to narrow one’s focus, she emphasizes the value of mindfulness in helping individuals better tolerate uncertainty and be more decisive when the time comes for action;
  3. Coming to a Conclusion: Mindful individuals, because of heightened clarity of their own core internal values, are better able to ferret out extraneous information.  This ability facilitates actual decision-making and can  lead to more timely resolution of conflict;
  4. Learning from Feedback: Perhaps the greatest value of mindfulness in the decision-making context is an improved ability to learn from experience.  Because mindful individuals are less identified with conditioned thinking and thus more freed from egoic constraints, the are more likely to lear from their experience.  In this way, they are less likely to repeat patterns that may have led to or exacerbated the situation at hand.

Each of these abilities can be cultivated by my Holistic Law Counseling Program, a multi-session program that incorporates mindfulness exercises prior to arriving at a concrete legal strategy.   For more information, visit http://www.holistic-lawyer.com, or call Holistic Attorney and Mediator Michael Lubofsky at (415) 508-6263.

The Importance of Mindfulness Exercises in Holistic Law Practice

The mind seems to incessantly scan the environment for problems to solve.  This active intellectual engagement with our environment likely served to ensure our survival as a species over millions of years as immediate physical dangers routinely confronted us in more primitive times.

The mind seeks problems to solve largely within the parameters of cause and effect.  Problems arise, however, when the mind latches onto a situation over which the individual lacks causal influence.  When facing such situations, one can and usually will become quickly frustrated insofar as he or she is attempting to solve a problem that is largely insoluble in an intellectual, analytical mode.

At times such as this, including times of interpersonal conflict commonly present in legal disputes, a real need arises to move beyond analytical thought and towards a wisdom arising not out of intellectual analysis, but out of a felt connection with all of life in the present moment.

Mindfulness exercises, often including meditation practice, cultivate and strengthen one’s ability to access this wisdom beyond analytical thought.

This is why holistic law practice incorporates mindfulness exercises as a necessary component of successful conflict resolution.  Insofar as parties remain locked into an analytical, thought-driven orientation to conflict, they will work – consciously or unconsciously – to reframe the issues in a way that is “intellectually manageable” and solvable largely through the exercise of personal influence.

Often, this is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.  The frustration resulting from this type of activity over a prolonged time period, in no small part, explains why tension between parties in traditional adversarial litigation tends to escalate over time.

Clients with no prior experience with mindfulness practice or meditation often understand, in theory, the value of a more holistic approach to legal conflict, but wonder how to cultivate a more grounded and less thought-driven approach.  Mindfulness exercises incorporated in holistic law practice often begin with guided attention to the breath, body, or other somatic experience.  Within a few sessions, and with some daily practice, clients report the arising of a sense of connection to present-moment experience fundamentally different from their previously narrow thought-driven orientation toward experience.  It is this constrained orientation that has left them feeling frustrated and perhaps helpless.  With some sustained practiceS, clients begin to identify potential solutions to conflict that transcend their constrained self-interest.  At this point optimal, transformative solutions to conflict become possible.

To learn more about incorporating mindfulness in law practice, contact Holistic Lawyer and Mediator Michael Lubofsky by visiting http://www.Holistic-Lawyer.com or by calling (415) 508-6263.

The Importance of Mindful Spousal Support

The issue of spousal support, especially when involving highly disparate incomes of a separating couple, is one of the most challenging areas of the divorce process.  Underlying the complexity are fundamental notions of “fairness” that may significantly differ for each spouse.  To successfully deal with the issue of spousal support in a way that minimizes negative drag for both parties, it is essential that spousal support be addressed with deliberation and mindfulness, ideally working together with both parties outside of the typical adversarial framework.

For purposes of discussion, we will assume a scenario involving a significantly higher earning husband and a marriage exceeding twenty years with no dependent children.   Husband worked throughout the marriage up to a current income level of $250,000/year.  Wife has made decisions at important junctures during the marriage that the couple believed were important to child rearing as well as ensuring that household-related issues were adequately addressed given Husband’s professional commitments and is proceeding forward with minimal marketable work experience.

In the typical adversarial unfolding of a divorce, the husband is initially confronted with temporary spousal support demands along with the divorce petition or response.  At that point, staring at a written document in isolation, what he is likely to see will be limited to the bottom-line demand that he pay 30-40% of his salary to his soon-to-be ex-wife with no end date in sight.  Suddenly, despite his hard work and sacrifices over the years, he will be taking home significantly less pay every month.

From the wife’s vantage point, however, it is not difficult to understand the fear and uncertainty that she faces moving forward into the future.  Now in her late 40’s, with little marketable work experience accumulated over the past two decades, she wonders how she will be able to move forward in a way that anywhere approximates the life to which she has grown accustomed.

Pervasive social conditioning colors the respective outlooks of both the husband and wife in this scenario.  The wife may well feel that her contributions to the community have been generally devalued by society at large, and possibly by her soon-to-be ex-husband in particular.  Similarly, the husband may consider it unfair to have to give almost half his pay to his wife when she is not “gainfully employed” as this term is generally interpreted in contemporary society.

This stark difference in conditioning may be just the tip of the iceberg of how differently the husband and wife approach this situation.  A highly conscious, holistic and mindful approach is essential in helping each party gain a felt appreciation for the outlook of the other, including underlying conditioning that cannot be ignored.

Bringing a holistic, mindful approach to the issue of spousal support requires both parties to work directly with the attorney, usually at the same time.  The holistic lawyer provides each party a full opportunity to articulate his or her fears and concerns.  It is only when  both parties feel thoroughly understood the concrete financial terms are discussed.

Additionally, once a spousal support agreement is reached, there can negotiated particular protocols to see that monthly payments are both given and received in a mindful, conscious way so as to ensure that both parties feel sufficiently appreciated and valued and have not lost sight of the underlying conditioning, fears, etc. discussed at the front end of this process.

To learn more about mindful spousal support, contact Holistic Lawyer Michael Lubofsky either by calling (415) 508-6263, or by visiting http://www.Holistic-Lawyer.com.

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.

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.

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.

A Community of Holistic Lawyers. top