Micro Mindfulness For Modern Lawyers

By Colleen L. Byers

We don’t need anything else to add to our to-do list. We don’t need to overhaul our entire practice. Instead, we can do one little thing that could make a big, positive impact through a practice called micro mindfulness.

Micro mindfulness is a practice of interspersing small doses (think less than 0.1 of your time) of attention to the present moment a few times throughout the day. It’s as simple as adding just a pinch of salt to enhance your meal. As my late grandmother used to say, “A little bit will do ya.”

I like to break down micro mindfulness into four simple steps:

Step 1 – Notice

Step 2 – Get Curious

Step 3 – Choose Differently

Step 4 – Feel the Impact

Here’s an example of micro mindfulness in action. I noticed [Step 1] that I was constantly racing around, [There’s a different blog post for a different day about the fact that while we were dating, my husband secretly nicknamed me “Zippy.”], often running about five minutes late, and generally feeling pulled in too many different directions. I wondered [Step 2] what I could do to change this feeling.

Then I came across this:

“Creating balance in our lives is not an easy thing. We are a hungry, noisy people, bombarded by stimulation and advertisements that promise to grant us our deepest desires. If we are not on purpose with creating balance for ourselves, we can easily fall victim to false promises and fill every breathable space with appointments and activities and all the responsibilities that go along with a full agenda. It is anti-cultural to claim any space that is simply space, or to move with any kind of lingering, or to take time for closure. We are bombarded and we bombard ourselves. And if we have any doubts, our calendars will reveal the truth.” – Deborah Adele, The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice (emphasis added)

My calendar did not lie. My meetings, Zooms, and calls were stacked right on top of each other, leaving little, if any, room to eat, take a bathroom break, or drive to my next destination. No wonder I felt like I was always running behind.

I decided to implement a new calendaring policy [Step 3] by allowing a minimum of 15 minutes in between any two meetings on my calendar. After applying this new policy, I ended up with 30 minutes between meetings the other morning, which I filled by sipping tea in the cool morning breeze and sitting contemplatively before my next meeting. During that meeting, to which I arrived early and calm, I noticed I had more creative ideas and more patience than usual [Step 4].

We do not have to make any broad sweeping or revolutionary changes. Instead, micro mindfulness invites us to look for brief opportunities for a few deep breaths to regain focus and better serve our clients.

Where can you add 0.1 of micro mindfulness to your day?

Colleen L. Byers, JD, MBA, founding principal of Colleen Byers Mediation, LLC, is a former business, trust, estate and fiduciary litigator who now focuses her practice exclusively on conflict resolution. Colleen’s forte is helping feuding family members unlock their horns long enough to settle their case. Colleen’s mediation style weaves together practical business insight, active listening, and an interest-based negotiation strategy. A registered yoga teacher, Colleen has a passion for improving well-being in the legal profession and proudly serves on the Board of Directors of North Carolina BarCARES. She regularly speaks on topics including mindfulness and workplace well-being as well as facilitates corporate retreats. You can follow Colleen on LinkedIn and reach her at [email protected].