Four Reasons You May Love Meditating with a Group

Technology is a wonderful thing. It has enabled people from all over the world to learn about the practice of meditation. Think about it. You can now have access to some of the world’s best meditation teachers in any number of means which are immediately available. You have a selection of apps that can teach practices and provide guided meditations. You can buy books from thinkers and teachers across the centuries. And if you look online, you’ll find any number of courses from any tradition you may wish to try.

I have used all of these things. I still do. I have benefitted from them immensely. I’m not here to tell you that they are not good. But I am here to say that they are not as good as learning meditation with friends.

I started meditation entirely on my own ten years ago. At the time, I was too embarrassed to tell anyone I was trying meditation. I didn’t even tell my husband until my dabbling with meditation at 1 or 2 minutes at a time evolve into a habit. It took me even longer to tell others about my practice, but by then the results were so clear I couldn’t help myself.

Eventually, I decided I was ready for more and I signed up for a 1-day intensive in my area. Over time, I attended longer retreats and then some courses. During the pandemic, I tried more options online, from courses to virtual retreats. More recently, I have resumed my in-person meditation events and I remembered how helpful it is.

I know it can be hard to find a meditation group in some areas and even harder to show up as a stranger to a new place. I’m writing this post to let you know what you might find if you work up the courage to find and join a meditation group in your area. Here are the 4 reasons why meditating with a group can be helpful.

1. Peer Pressure Can Be Good.

If you meditate in person, the odds are that there will be some nerves and jitters at first as you adjust to sitting and breathing with other people. Eventually, though, you may find as I did that your mind settles down far more easily in a group than by yourself. Why?

Of course, humans are mammals. As social creatures, we are made to be together. Have you ever been to a concert or sports event and found yourself overcome with the emotion of the crowd? The same is true in reverse. Meditation in a group can help you relax and settle because everyone else is relaxed and settled.

And even on the times you aren’t relaxed and settled, you may find the group helpful too. When you are struggling with a session, being in a group may help you stick with the practice simply to avoid disrupting others. Clearly, if you need a break or have to move, that’s not out of bounds. But sometimes with habits, we just need one more reason to keep saying yes and being in a group offers that in the hard sessions.

2. It Can Add Variety to Your Practice.

If you sit and do nothing for long enough, you are bound to notice one thing: meditation can be boring. This is not a reason to quit but your mind will tell you it is. In reality, though, boredom is an amazing reaction to watch. We often think of boredom as the end of the story, but in reality it’s an opening question.

Boredom is really more about our judgments and reactions than the thing we think is boring. So, if meditation is boring, one question might be: how many things can you do entirely on your own and not get bored? If you are being honest, there probably aren’t too many.

Pure and simple, meditation in a group is a way to add variety to your practice. It may mean you are meditating in a new space, there may be new people, there might be some new rituals (i.e. chanting, bowing, etc.), and you may try new practices or modalities. This variety offers the chance of building skills and seeing your practice in a new way.

3. You Learn You Aren’t So Weird.

This one may be my favorite. No shade to Tara Brach or Sharon Salzberg or any of the other world-renowned teachers I adore. But I may have learned more from the other meditators on retreat who asked questions about practice.

These people overtly stated that they did not know the answers. They announced their struggles to the group. These people were asking for guidance. Why was this so amazing?

Well, first of all, it was amazing for me to hear people admit that they weren’t perfect and didn’t have it all figured out. It helped to see the teachers respond with humanity, compassion, and often humor to try to help. Because these people were brave enough to ask questions, it made me feel brave enough to ask my own.

The other thing that really helped though was that most of the questions related to things I had struggled with too. Was I allowed to swallow? Was I allowed to scratch an itch? What if I had a train of thought that would not stop? What if I kept falling asleep or spacing out? All these questions and more told me that my problems weren’t weird at all but a normal part of the practice.

4. You Meet Awesome People.

I was wrong. This one is my real favorite. One thing I have learned about venturing forth with my own hobbies and interests is that you meet cool people in the process. Even for an introvert like me, meeting and bonding with new people is easy when I am doing something I enjoy.

If you find a meditation group to learn with or sit with, you are bound to get to know some great people. This might be at your yoga studio, church, local Dharma center, or your office. If you sit with the same group for long enough, you will get to know people. Chit chat happens or sometimes you make friends through Q&A sessions at the end of a practice.

In general, the people I have met in meditation groups or courses have been thoughtful, kind, warm, and open. They are people looking to heal, grow, and lead intentional lives in community with others. With all the division, difficulty and strife in life and work, I have found it heartening to see and sit with people who are trying to create peace for themselves and others.

These are the four reasons I keep looking for opportunities to learn and practice meditation in a community. If you are looking for the same thing, you may try looking for courses or open sits in your area at your local yoga studio, church or worship space, or a Dharma or Zen Center.

There are also many online and virtual options for courses, retreats, and sits. These may not offer the same support as an in-person event, but they offer convenience and a chance to preview group meditation with minimal effort. Lawyers interested in trying this out should check out the Mindfulness in Law Society Virtual Sits every Monday and Wednesday afternoon.

Want to learn more about mindfulness and compassion? Check out my new book, How to Be a Badass Lawyer, for a simple guide to creating a meditation practice of your own in 30 days. And to share mindfulness with your little one, check out my new children’s book, Mommy Needs a Minute.

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Insights from an Influencer? Yung Pueblo Will Change Your Mind

If I were to tell you that an Instagram influencer under 40 is a source of healing and wisdom for millions of people, you’d probably be skeptical. Instagram is the source of social comparison and makeup how-to videos. It’s not where people interested in meditation (like I am and you are) traditionally go to find wisdom.

Maybe some of that is true, but a big exception to this rule is Yung Pueblo (Diego Perez). Perez is a former community organizer and now famed writer who has published 3 books (with a fourth on the way) and has a following on Instagram exceeding two million. He healed himself through meditation after struggling with emotional turmoil, conflict, and addiction. Then he started sharing the insights he gleaned from the practice in short poem-like verses on Instagram.

At the time, this was almost unheard of on Instagram. That platform is filled with glossy and well-manicured photos of celebrities and curated video content meant to sell. Against this backdrop, though, you can almost see how someone bold enough to share only a white background and simple text might stand out.

And stand out they did. Yung Pueblo – writing for “young people” – got the attention of millions of followers and ultimately secured a book deal. How did he garner this attention? With insights. Pure and simple.

Insights? Maybe you’re reading this and you feel like it’s a let down but I assure you it’s not. I haven’t written much about insights on this blog because they are hard to describe. You can’t really meditate to get a particular insight. Instead, if you do vipassana (“insight”) meditation, you often just sit with very little structure and await the arrival of wisdom.

In many cases, these insights are so basic that you could easily mistake them as merely mundane or insignificant thoughts. But, when you slow down in the course of meditation, you realize that they are more than statements of the obvious. Instead, they are acknowledgments of fundamental truths that you may normally overlook in your busy daily life.

For instance, here’s this little gem from Perez’s first book Inward


you can love people and

simultaneously not allow

them to harm you.

Many of us logically know that this is true, but who doesn’t need a reminder about boundaries every now and then? I mean, how easy it is to get love confused with obligation or to not know how to balance self-compassion and compassion for others?

Or how about this understated little gem that is so easy to forget:

I am

at my



I am calm

Now that you’ve prepared a bit, try this one on for size:

self-love is doing the work

we need to be free


Again, these are hopefully obvious to most of us. But imagine you saw this on Instagram after scrolling for minutes to avoid thinking about some stressful situation at work. Then think how you would respond. In my imagination, I’d double tap and probably comment with something like a “100” emoji followed by a few flames.

Now imagine that you follow and have more of these statements showing up in your feed on a regular basis. Who couldn’t use reminders like these? Of course, we all can. Though meditation is a great way to see insights in our own lives, it never hurts to have some support from other wise people.

More recently, though, Yung Pueblo has shown he can offer even more than the modern-day equivalent of The Tao Te Ching. In Lighter, Yung Pueblo offers a work in full prose that is part memoir and part self-help. He shares his story as a first generation American after his parents emigrated from Ecuador. He details his struggle with addiction and how meditation helped him heal. And he even offers insights about how mindfulness can help us achieve positive social change and healing across the world.

This book was stylistically different than the others but it offered many of the same insights you’ll see in Yung Pueblo’s other works. In general, Yung Pueblo’s work doesn’t focus on meditation practice, but it gives you a clear idea about why you might want to meditate. He’s not a meditation teacher per se and doesn’t describe himself that way, but I wouldn’t call it a stretch to call him a teacher of insights.

This is not to say that I think you could read Yung Pueblo as a substitute for meditation practice. But his gentle reminders to let go of what you don’t need and pursue what really matters can sure help. Whether you meditate or not, Yung Pueblo offers a wisdom that is well beyond his years. For insights, healing, and calm clarity, find him on Instagram or check out his books:

  • Inward
  • Clarity & Connection
  • Lighter
  • The Way Forward (to be released October 10, 2023).

Want to learn more about mindfulness and compassion? Check out my new book, How to Be a Badass Lawyer, for a simple guide to creating a meditation practice of your own in 30 days. And to share mindfulness with your little one, check out my new children’s book, Mommy Needs a Minute.

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Writing About Your Darkest Moments Feels So Damn Good

Can you help me understand something? Like seriously. I need someone else to explain this to me slowly and in small words. I have had these times in my life. Experiences that are just awful. So awful, in fact, that I don’t even want to acknowledge them when they are happening.

Then I survive them and time passes. And I find myself not just journaling about them, but publishing pieces about them. Every time I do this, it scares me. Every time, I think “This is going to be the last straw. This is going to be the one where people say I have gone too far.” But that last straw never seems to come.

Instead, what happens is that I feel good. Damn good. So damn good that I repeat the cycle again. What is this? Can you help me identify this phenomenon?

Case in point. I just published an article for Above the Law – one of the most well read legal blogs on the internet. The topic of my article was loneliness. While a common affliction these days, especially for lawyers who rate themselves as the loneliest of professions, loneliness also commonly induces shame.

This was true for me. I was so ashamed of my own loneliness that it took me years and a bout with postpartum depression to start to face it. Ultimately, my meditation practice forced me to reckon with it because sitting still without distraction made me unable to look away. As I learned, this pain was worth it because facing the problem eventually helped me address it.

But at the time, the idea of saying to myself “I have no friends” was too painful to bear. Fast forward ten years, and I decided to tell the internet about it. The weird thing is that I don’t feel ashamed anymore. I feel fantastic. What gives?

Now, you would be correct to point out that the response from my community has been heartening. I received nothing but positive comments and messages in response to my post. One contact on LinkedIn even offered to be my friend and a legal scholar of ethics dubbed me the Lawyer of the Week for my post.

Certainly, seeing the reality of what people really think juxtaposed against the tragedy of shame playing out in our minds can help us get perspective. But this isn’t a one-off scenario. At this point, this is a pattern for me.

I have written about my experience with postpartum depression, and my struggle with alcohol during the pandemic, and my fear of networking, and my challenges with anger management. All of these things in the moment made me feel deeply ashamed. Writing about all of them made me feel great.

And, though I got similarly positive responses to those posts, the great feelings happened before any public response. The good feelings started when I decided to write. They climaxed when I wrote and cried my way through the editing process. And they continued as I hit send or publish on the piece.

So what are these great feelings? If I had to offer one word, I would call it self-acceptance. Writing about our past experiences forces us to get clear about them. It forces us to recall what happened, acknowledge all the angst and fear there, and not look away.

In general, the form of story telling also calls on us to provide a narrative structure. It’s not enough to just say what we experienced; we next have to say where it took us and what we learned. That means we have to figure out the meaning of the experience.

I have read that writing about a traumatic experience can help us process it. My lived experience tells me this is true. I don’t know of any research that says publishing your work has any added benefits, but I have felt them myself.

When I have published the pieces about my dark moments, it’s like self-acceptance on steroids. I know that some people may judge me. I know that some people may criticize. I publish anyway. Usually, I have been motivated to do so because I know that I am not alone in dealing with the issue. For example, all of the dark experiences I have shared (depression, alcohol, loneliness, imposter syndrome) are things lawyers commonly face.

But when I share my story with these experiences, I highlight my story and take the risk that some might not understand. When I do, I remember how much of my life was spent tip-toeing around people who might not get me and I say to myself “not anymore.”

So perhaps I have figured this out on my own. Writing about dark moments in life isn’t without pain or risk, but it feels damn good. It feels good to acknowledge your own experience and understand what it means. It feels good to own your story no matter what people might think.

Justice Louis D. Brandeis (the namesake for my law school) famously said “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” He wasn’t talking about mental health here but the saying still applies. If you are struggling with dark moments, try bringing in some light. Talk it out, write it out, share it with those you trust. Your story matters and acknowledging it can feel damn good.

Want to learn more about mindfulness and compassion? Check out my new book, How to Be a Badass Lawyer, for a simple guide to creating a meditation practice of your own in 30 days. And to share mindfulness with your little one, check out my new children’s book, Mommy Needs a Minute.

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Why Overthinking Lawyers Will Love Noting Practice

Founder’s Note: This is the blog’s 150th post and somehow I managed to publish it on World Mindfulness Day and have a new meditation to share too. Sometimes little ideas you have grow and sometimes things work out. Thanks to all of the blog’s readers, followers, contributors, and friends.

If you try meditation practice long enough, you are bound to encounter the practice of “noting.” With this practice, you pick a focal point (most commonly the breath though any focal point would do). Then when a distraction arises, you simply note it and and return to the focal point.

In many cases, the instruction to note generally means to briefly identify the distraction and let it go. For example, you might be instructed to categorize the experience as either a thought, emotion, sensation, sound, or mental scene. Though many of us may be familiar with this practice, we may not always know why it’s a good one to do. That’s what this blog post will address.

What Is Noting Practice?

Noting is a mindfulness practice. Like breath practice, noting will help you cultivate awareness and focus. It can also help you cultivate self-compassion as you manage the inevitable frustration that may arise with meditation. Noting, however, offers something more too.

With noting, the act of categorizing mental experiences may help you recognize mental experiences for what they are. For example, anyone who has meditated even once knows that it is not always easy to differentiate awareness of your breathing from thinking about your breathing.

Similarly, it can be hard to realize that you are experiencing a memory or fantasy about the future when you are in it. Once you can get outside of the mental images or thoughts, it can be easy to acknowledge their unreality or challenge their logic. But, when you are absorbed by the thought or scene or sensation or emotion, your ability to manage the situation is much harder.

Noting Practice Can Help You Manage Thoughts.

Noting practices the skill of recognizing when you are having an inner experience and zooming out from it. By looking for and categorizing inner experiences, you can note them without getting sucked into the details. In other words, noting helps you practice seeing a trap for your attention and stepping around it.

In this way, noting is different from self-analysis. It is not seeing a thought and applying more thought to ask why the thought pattern occurs. Instead, the practice is simply note it as a “thought” and then let it go. You avoid the juicy details of the story underlying the thought and you focus instead on the reality that the story is one totally of your mind’s own making.

This is not to say that all of your thoughts are bad or wrong. Thinking and thoughts aren’t inherently bad. The problem that many of us encounter, however, is that we aren’t usually aware when we are thinking. As such, we often assume that our thoughts are correct and helpful. When we look at thoughts critically, though, we are bound to see that some are based on incomplete information, affected by our emotions, or infused with biases.

Any lawyer reading this probably knows why this is an essential skill. We think so much in our jobs that it can be a challenge to stop thinking. If, like me, you have ever struggled with overthinking, learning to just see that you are thinking can be a benefit in and of itself.

Noting Practice Can Help Manage Overwhelm.

The other thing that is helpful about noting practice is that it can separate aspects of our inner experience. Life does not send us experiences in neatly labeled and clearly delineated boxes. To the contrary, we can be inundated with thoughts, emotions, and sensory information all at once.

The cool thing about attention, though, is that it can really only focus on one thing at a time. So, even if you are inundated with a slew of inner experiences at once, your mind can focus on just one. In daily life, this may be hard to see because things may happen so rapidly. With meditation, though, we can slow things down and take experiences one by one.

Over time, this can help us build inner resources for dealing with difficult situations. We may notice a challenging sensation caused by emotion and then see that our thoughts are starting to spiral. We can internally “note” the situation and choose to use an inner resource to maintain steadiness.


Am I saying that noting practice should become a mainstay of your practice? Probably not, but it is one to try because noting is a good skill to keep sharp. I recommend trying the practice out a few times to learn and implement the strategy. Once the skill of noting is developed, you can do it occasionally to keep the skill sharp.

Even if you don’t practice noting regularly, you can use the strategy of noting in your life to catch yourself in rumination or bring nonjudgmental awareness to physical sensations. This is where the benefits of noting practice can really pay off.

If you want to give noting practice a try, check out our new Noting Practice Guided Meditation here:

Want to learn more about mindfulness and compassion? Check out my new book, How to Be a Badass Lawyer, for a simple guide to creating a meditation practice of your own in 30 days. And to share mindfulness with your little one, check out my new children’s book, Mommy Needs a Minute.

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Come Hang Out with the Mindfulness in Law Society

Over the years, my networking approach has generally not been a sophisticated one. I join things and show up and eventually someone encourages me to get more involved. There have been times when I have declined opportunities, but I have said “sure” far more often. I’ll admit that I have sometimes found myself exasperated and been forced to scale back. In general, though, this openness has served me very well.

To my great satisfaction, this pattern repeated itself again with the Mindfulness in Law Society. I have been a member of this group for several years, but have not been heavily involved until recently. A few years ago, a fellow lawyer reached out and asked me to lead a meditation for a young lawyers program for the American Bar Association. As it turns out, that lawyer, Christina Sava, is also involved with MILS.

She reached out again to see if I’d be interested in joining the roster of teachers for the twice weekly guided meditations that MILS offers. This was an easy “sure” but I added something more. I checked out the local chapters for MILS and saw none in Kentucky or Ohio. Since I am already active with wellness committees for my state and local bars here, I decided to start a local chapter for MILS in the Greater Cincinnati Area.

So, what I am I asking of you? Nothing crazy; maybe just to consider my unsophisticated networking approach of showing up. The virtual sits for MILS are held twice weekly, on Mondays at 3 PM EST and Wednesdays at 5 PM. They are open to anyone in the legal profession (which is defined broadly and includes students and paralegals).

In addition, people from across and outside of the United States participate in the virtual sits. I have stressed the value of meditation in a group before and I will say it again: it helps. Virtual groups are not nearly the same as in-person groups but they are far better than no group at all. I will be guiding on the 2nd Monday at 3 PM EST and the 3rd Wednesday at 5 PM EST, so come and hang out.

And, if you are in the Cincinnati area, interested in mindfulness, and in the legal profession, please reach out via email or on LinkedIn if you would like to help form and launch the chapter. You don’t have to be a meditation teacher or even an experienced meditator. Someone who cares about mental health in the legal profession is all we need.

I know we are all too busy. I also know that it’s hard to show up with a group of people you don’t know. To find a meditation community, though, that’s often the only choice. As hard as it can be to work up the courage, it’s not a bad thing. Meeting new people and joining new groups is a great way to network, build community, and learn mindfulness. Now, it seems I am the person encouraging you to get more involved. All you have to do is say “sure.”

Want to learn more about mindfulness and compassion? Check out my new book, How to Be a Badass Lawyer, for a simple guide to creating a meditation practice of your own in 30 days. And to share mindfulness with your little one, check out my new children’s book, Mommy Needs a Minute.

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Zen in the Art of Yard Maintenance

The single best thing I did for my mental health this summer was not meditation. By no means am I saying that I stopped meditating. But at this point the practice for me is part of my routine. So, the best new thing I did this summer was to make the area outside of my home more hospitable. I got rid of some old stuff and in the new spaces deposited a tent with some rocking chairs and a covered swing.

This was a game changer for me because my backyard is in full sun. Before my upgrades, there was almost no shade. This made it difficult to enjoy being outside for any period of time. My new shady spots and comfy seats, however, have drastically changed things for me. Now, I can read, listen to a webinar, or even work outside. And you can bet that I have also enjoyed meditating outside, too.

Let’s face it. Being outside is magical. The sounds of nature can quickly calm and relax us. The outdoors can give us a break from our screens or offer a chance for movement. In fact, I have it on good authority that getting outside is part of what many lawyers require for an “ideal day.”

Last year, when I was preparing to write my first book I interviewed more than 30 lawyers to discuss their experience with stress. I thought these interviews would be hard but they were actually quiet inspirational. My favorite part was when I got to ask them what their ideal day looked like in order to provide some context around all the questions about stress. Nearly every answer included an outdoor activity, whether it was playing golf, taking a walk, or gardening.

These anecdotal reports are also consistent with myriad research studies that show the health benefits of getting outside. Studies have shown that being in nature can reduce stress, improve cognitive functioning, and increase happiness. What’s more, you don’t have to take a trek through the Grand Canyon to tap into the benefits. Instead, two hours–even if spread out over the course of a week–is enough to improve one’s perceived well-being.

While it may not be terribly surprising that pleasant activities outside can lift our spirits, I have experienced a similar boost from unpleasant outdoor activities. It has taken me a few years to get there, but I am now officially a fan of trimming my hedges. My house is surrounded by landscaping on all sides, including two literal walls of shrubs.

My husband and I are not handy people so we had outsourced this for many years. While social distancing during the pandemic, I got ambitious bored and tried it myself. I would go out on a nice day and trim for about an hour or two and fill up a dumpster with clippings. I always came in tired and messy but seeing the impact of my work felt good.

And, can I be honest? Yard work can sometimes be cathartic. One day, I was in a terrible mood and very much in my head after getting an email from a colleague about a project. I stewed in that feeling for a while and then looked out the window. I saw how nice it was, recalled the trimming I had yet to do, and put my energy to good use. I came back inside in a much better mood to find that the email “crisis” was really no big deal.

I teach about meditation a lot. There is certainly power in looking inward and getting to know ourselves more deeply. Getting outside, however, lets us expand outward beyond our normal routines and environment. Humans need both introspection and expansion to live a happy life. We need healing and rest, just as much as we need space to grow and move.

The other day my mom, who has never meditated before, asked me how she could get started with mindfulness. I offered some resources and tips, but the first thing I told her to do was to leave her phone and go sit outside. My mom has a nice covered porch with a swing and it’s filled with the lush plants she lovingly tends. I told her to sit for a few minutes every day and to notice how it felt.

Whether you are totally new to mindfulness or are an experienced meditator, this is pretty good advice. To boost your mood, get some exercise, and expand your mind, get outside. You can run, or swing, or clean up your yard, or just sit still and listen to the crickets. Just get outside and notice how it feels. It may just be one of the best things you can do for your mental health.

Want to learn more about mindfulness and compassion? Check out my new book, How to Be a Badass Lawyer, for a simple guide to creating a meditation practice of your own in 30 days. And to share mindfulness with your little one, check out my new children’s book, Mommy Needs a Minute.

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Supported Fish Pose with Self-Kindness Guided Meditation

It’s a long holiday weekend. If you’re lucky, that means some extra time for rest and relaxation and enjoying the last days of summer. Some of us have no trouble resting when we get the chance, but if you are anything like me it can be a struggle.

It’s really easy to get caught in habits, whether they support the life we want or not. For lawyers, the habit that can impede quality rest is that of being busy. We have jam-packed schedules, numerous obligations, and full lives. This can make it hard to spot the nooks and crannies in our schedule for ease and rest and take advantage of them when they come.

The other problem for lawyers, of course, is that even physical rest can feel uncomfortable because our minds don’t stop. As a long-time overthinker, I know that this struggle is very real.

So what’s my answer? First, it is important to learn to just stop and take a few minutes for oneself. Second, though, it helps a lot to honor and connect with the body. In general, it’s the quickest way to feel better both physically and mentally. Third, I really like playing with my mindfulness practice to find what works just for me. As someone trained to teach meditation, yoga, and compassion, this has often meant combining practices.

I used all of these ideas in the new guided meditation I am offering today. In the practice, there is a guided reflection on rest and it’s role in our lives. This practice is not merely a mental exercise but also incorporates a classic restorative yoga pose: supported fish to help the body relax and rest. And third, it’s certainly a playful exploration of the intersection between meditation and yoga.

Labor Day is about honoring the American worker with a day of rest. I’m sharing this meditation with you today as an additional support in your quest to rest this long weekend. If you want to try it out, check it out here or on the YouTube channel.

If you like this practice and want another, you might check out my most popular video, the Legs Up the Wall Guided Meditation too. This one uses another classic restorative yoga pose: legs up the wall. You can use a cushion to support your back and hips but in truth no props are required at all. This meditation teaches a variety of ways to focus on the breath so you can learn while you rest.

Want to learn more about mindfulness and compassion? Check out my new book, How to Be a Badass Lawyer, for a simple guide to creating a meditation practice of your own in 30 days. And to share mindfulness with your little one, check out my new children’s book, Mommy Needs a Minute.

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Meditation Teacher Sharon Salzberg Helps Us Bring Mindfulness Into Real Life

I have read a lot of books on mindfulness and followed many meditation teachers over the years. Some help me understand the practice of meditation better. Some help me understand myself better. But Sharon Salzberg has helped me understand life better.

Sharon Salzberg is one of the most well-known teachers of mindfulness in the world. She has been teaching for more than four decades, is a founder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, the author of numerous books (which I’ll mention below), and the host of the wildly popular Metta Hour podcast. This is a fantastic resume to be sure, but it’s not what I like most about Salzberg.

What I like most is that, despite this resume, Salzberg’s teachings don’t come across as esoteric, ethereal, or even professorial. They are down-to-earth, practical, and human. If you read her books or listen to her podcast, it’s immediately clear that Salzberg knows her stuff but she always talks to you and never at you. In fact, though I certainly have experienced a mind and heart expansion from reading Salzberg’s works, reading them didn’t feel like being taught. Instead, reading Salzberg’s books felt more like talking about life with a wise friend or good neighbor.

If you are reading this blog, the odds are that you have heard of Sharon Salzberg and you may have already encountered some of her works. What you may not realize and what I didn’t appreciate until I sat down to write this post is how extensive and broadly applicable her work was. Salzberg is perhaps most well-known for her teachings on my favorite meditation practice, loving-kindness. But what I hope you get from this post is that her work can help you learn how to live loving-kindness too.

To more clearly illustrate what I am talking about here, I provide a few summaries of the books from Sharon Salzberg that I have enjoyed the most:

Loving-Kindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness

This is a book that explains the practice of loving-kindness in depth. It discusses each aspect of the practice to support the process of opening the heart more broadly. As I explain in my own book, loving-kindness is a dynamic practice that includes both body awareness, mental imagery, and emotional understanding. This book breaks the practice down in a simple way to help support you in your practice.

Real Change: Mindfulness to Heal Ourselves & the World

This book is for anyone seeking stability and inspiration to keep working to make the world a better place. I read this book years ago as I was reeling from the bruising 2020 election and I can’t tell you the healing it brought me. It explains how mindfulness can be a stabilizing force in the work towards change and how compassion can inspire action even amid fear. She also offers more resources relating to political action and election stress on her website which is bound to be helpful to many as we head into a new election cycle.

Real Happiness at Work: Meditations for Accomplishment, Achievement & Peace

The goal of this blog is to help lawyers and professionals not just learn about meditation but bring mindfulness into their lives and work. That’s the goal of this book from Salzberg too. It embeds mindfulness concepts and practices into the life of work. What I like best are the micro practices sprinkled into every chapter to help you incorporate mindfulness into your work regardless of your experience (or lack thereof) with meditation practice.

Real Life: The Journey from Isolation to Openness & Freedom

This is Salzberg’s latest book. There are many teachers who talk about the process of contracting or tightening during difficulty, including Tara Brach. This book, though, explains how easy it is to do that habitually throughout our lives. It offers teachings about how to open back up again to get what we actually want out of life: meaning, connection, and peace. In a time when the world seems intent on making us afraid and isolated, this book will help you rebalance again towards hope and calm.

If you are interested in learning more, Salzberg has a loving-kindness challenge coming up in September with five days of teachings and practices. Fortunately, we can expect to see more from Salzberg. In her latest book, Real Life, Salzberg discussed the fact that she is going to be devoting more of her time to writing. This has already proven to be fruitful, with the recent release of a 10th anniversary edition of her book, Love Your Enemies, which is next on my reading list.

Salzberg is a teacher who has made mindfulness practices accessible and approachable to thousands of people around the world. Whether you do a few of her guided meditations or do a deep dive into all of her books, you are bound to learn not just about mindfulness, but also some skills for life.

Want to learn more about mindfulness and compassion? Check out my new book, How to Be a Badass Lawyer, for a simple guide to creating a meditation practice of your own in 30 days. And to share mindfulness with your little one, check out my new children’s book, Mommy Needs a Minute.

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Book Review: The Origins of You May Help Your Inner Child Heal and Grow

One of the biggest stereotypes I encounter teaching lawyers about mindfulness is the fear that meditation will cause you to turn into a hippy obsessed with your inner child. I’ve written several times that this isn’t true. In fact, I have experienced the opposite and I proudly say that mindfulness has helped to make me a badass lawyer.

But, I have to be clear about something. That inner child which people like to mock all the time? Well, it’s real. The sooner you accept that and learn to embrace it, the better off you’ll be. In fact, the badassery I claim my mindfulness practice has given me emerged when I accepted my inner child and learned to take better care of her.

This is what The Origins of You, a book by Vienna Pharaon, intends to help you do. Despite her many followers on Instagram and the popularity of the book, I didn’t know what it was about when I borrowed it from my library. I had long been a fan of considering one’s origin story, perhaps because I write so much and understand the teaching value of a good story. So, it was the word “origins” that first got my attention.

Pharaon, a marriage and family therapist, never uses the word “inner child” in The Origins of You. Instead, she opts to use the term “wound” to describe the many injuries that each of us humans tend to experience in life and carry around with us as adults. Perhaps we experienced a “prioritization” wound because we experienced neglect or a “safety” wound if we experienced an injury or were treated recklessly.

While this linguistic choice makes sense from the standpoint of reducing identification with the past experience for the purposes of understanding it better, the presence of a wound implies a subject who was wounded. The thing I like about the book, however, is that it helps the reader understand that the inner child—even a wounded inner child—can grow up and heal. And who is the person who can help that child do this? Well, it’s you.

The book doesn’t just explain the variety of wounds that we ordinary people can walk around with and unconsciously try to protect every day. It also offers strategies for becoming aware of them, learning to face them, and ultimately to heal them. It shows how therapy, subtle changes in relationships, new styles of communication, and even practices like meditation can assist in that process.

As a whole, I found the book to be highly accessible (especially in contrast to other works that address healing from traumatic life experiences), practical, and useful to a broad variety of people. The book also does not only focus solely on traumatic experiences, but also explains how a range of life experiences (like a car accident or a medical procedure) can leave us feeling wounded and affect our lives for years to come.

In addition, I respected the balance that Pharaon offers in recognizing that not all personal wounds are necessarily anyone’s fault. The other common trope that goes with the “inner child” is the idea that personal healing inevitably causes us to blame our parents. As Pharaon acknowledges, though, sometimes wounds happen even when our parents or other caregivers in our life are doing their best or are affected by social or economic factors outside of their control. Instead of blame, the book offers high accountability, guided reflection in a way that doesn’t feel so lonely, and tools for positive change.

My one concern is not something that should cause anyone to avoid the book, but is more of a heads up for those who read it and try the practices. The book includes several guided meditations intended as practices to help readers face and heal their wounds. I found the practices to be well-crafted and many appeared to be rooted in research-based practices with which I was familiar.

People new to mindfulness, however, might find them challenging to do on their own. As I have written before, meditation may allow traumatic memories and experiences to arise and past trauma can make focus and stability during meditation a challenge. For those new to healing or new to the practice of meditation, give yourself ample time or consider seeking support before doing the practices.

Overall, The Origins of You is a well-written and accessible book full of practical tools and clear analysis of the wounds that trouble so many of us. Though most examples in the book address personal relationships, lawyers could easily benefit from it given how critical personal relationships are to law practice. If you want to learn more about yourself or the other people in your life, check out The Origins of You for some helpful tools for learning how to take better care of your inner child to help you be the adult you want to be.

Want to learn more about mindfulness and compassion? Check out my new book, How to Be a Badass Lawyer, for a simple guide to creating a meditation practice of your own in 30 days. And to share mindfulness with your little one, check out my new children’s book, Mommy Needs a Minute.

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Back to School for Lawyers: A Month of Posts about Books and Teachers

As the parent of two girls, I can’t tell you how excited I am for back to school. This has been a weird summer. We had two trips over the summer and I was a little bit disorganized when it came to getting my kids into camps. This means that they had a whole lot of unstructured time and the whole house fell out of a routine.

Getting back to school will surely be an adjustment for us all, but I’m thrilled to have some structure again. In much the same way, I’m happy to bring back some structure on the blog too. When I launched the blog, I used monthly themes to help me select topics and generate a variety of posts. Last year, though, I had to pause while writing my first book and the theme concept felt stifling when I can back to blogging again.

This month, though, the theme idea has come roaring back just when I needed a little more structure in my life. My friend, Eden Davis Stevens, wrote a wonderful review of the book Stolen Focus. My other friend from my book coaching cohort, Monica Jenkins, made contact to talk about her book, The Cost of Clutter. And, I have been been on a reading tear over the last several months. The reviews are piling up in my head just like the books I have piling up on my bookshelves.

Beyond this, some of the most popular posts on the blog are the book reviews. Let’s give the people what they want. Stay tuned the rest of the month for more posts about books and teachers. Following up on the review of Stolen Focus last week will be my review of The Origins of You by Vienna Pharaon on Tuesday. Stay tuned and best wishes to you on a happy, healthy, safe, and peaceful school year.

Want to learn more about mindfulness and compassion? Check out my new book, How to Be a Badass Lawyer, for a simple guide to creating a meditation practice of your own in 30 days. And to share mindfulness with your little one, check out my new children’s book, Mommy Needs a Minute.

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