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Mindful : June 2013
now ANGRY ABOUT SOMETHING? Ride it like an undulating wave. Don’t push it down. Don’t act it out. See what happens. Find more on Twitter @mindinterrupter OVERHEARD “People are substantially less happy when their minds are wander- ing than when they’re not. How often do people’s minds wander? Turns out, a lot: 47% of the time, people are thinking about something other than what they are currently doing.” Matt Killingsworth, from his TED talk, “Want to be happier? Stay in the moment” Some of the world’s most powerful people attend the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. And for the first time, this year’s gathering of political leaders, change agents, billionaires, and thinkers included a workshop on mindful leadership. It was taught by Janice Marturano of the Institute for Mindful Leadership in New Jersey and Mark Williams of the Mind- fulness Centre at Oxford Uni- versity. Organizers had to turn people away when the room reached its capacity of about 70. Early morning meditation sessions at the conference attracted close to 40 people. Mindfulness Goes Global You need a law yer. You’re in a painful confrontation, maybe over a wrong you feel was done to you, and you’re preparing to battle for justice. But according to Rhonda Magee, law professor at the University of San Francisco, you ought to find a law yer who knows more than just how to win. A contemplative law yer, perhaps. “That’s a law yer with the capacity to suppor t clients in developing their own self- awareness—recognizing that whatever is coming up in the moment is not necessarily the whole story,” says Magee. “There is more truth around any given issue than is mani- fest in our own experiences in the moment.” Magee, 45, is codirector of USF law school’s Center for Teaching Excellence. With suppor t from The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, and with Judi Cohen, of Golden Gate University, and Charlie Halpern of the University of California-Berkeley, she has been working for more than a decade to bring mindfulness into law practice and legal edu- cation. It was with Cohen and USF colleague Tim Iglesias that Magee developed a course for third-year law students called Contemplative Law yering. “The goal is to help law yers and clients develop the capac- ity to put themselves in the shoes of another,” says Magee, “ to listen more thoroughly to other people with as little judg- ment as they can manage.” Magee’s own path to the legal profession, and to mind- fulness, has its roots in her childhood, growing up African American in Nor th Carolina and Virginia in the 1970s and 1980s. “So much of my early years were shaped by the larger dynamics that are told in the stor y of Brown v. Board of Education, and in the stories of the battles over integration and desegregation in the South and elsewhere.” Magee’s grandmother played a large par t, too. “I grew up spending time with her while my mother worked in a shir t fac- tory,” she remembers. “I would wake up in the morning and my grandmother was already up, before dawn, spending an hour or so in prayer and reflec- tion. She grounded herself in a sense of her own dignity, her own inner life. “It showed me that you could overcome even the most oppressive circumstances by working with and through those oppressions, not ignor- ing them but making the most of what opportunities were there. And doing so with love for one another.” Magee was fascinated by how we construct social rela- tionships and studied sociol- ogy before transferring to law. “I love law because it is the language and process by which we try to make real these inspiring and awesome demo- cratic ideals—of equality, of one person, one voice,” she says. “And at the hear t of all that are our commitments to human dignity, which is what animates the notion of human rights. “I have a desire to do work in the world that suppor ts all of us in being our highest and our best. No mat ter where we’re from, what color we are, what background, whether we’re born in circumstances of wealth and privilege or the opposite, we are all in this together.” ● The Mindful Lawyer For more on Davos, go to mindful.org/davos Rhonda Magee, law professor at the University of San Francisco and codirector of USF law school’s Center for Teaching Excellence. 12 mindful June 2013 Photograph by Todd Rafalovich