Sturm College of Law
Mindfulness, Meditation, Clinical pedagogy
The push to incorporate mindfulness into the practice of law is gaining traction. Defined as "paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment, non-judgmentally," mindfulness can be both a state of being (a reaction to a given situation or moment in time as a calm observer of what is happening within it) as well as a trait of being (a larger approach to all of life's moments; a perspective). This Idea more fully defines mindfulness and its value to the practice and teaching of law, and it shows how clinical law professors in particular have embraced mindfulness as a core pedagogical value. This Idea also observes, however, that although mindfulness has been embraced, meditation-what I am calling the "M" word-has not. A primary way to achieve mindfulness is through meditation, the focused practice of paying attention to one's mind and the thoughts that occur to it in any given moment.' Unlike mindfulness, the word meditation rarely appears in pedagogical scholarship, and only a handful of clinicians are teaching it. The M word appears to carry baggage- a "touchy-feely" stigma of some sort-that mindfulness does not. This Idea demonstrates that mindfulness and meditation are but two sides of a coin. Meditation, when defined most simply, is nothing more than a practice of mindfulness. This Idea ultimately concludes that mindfulness, meditation, and clinical pedagogy all share as a goal, the development in students (and lawyers) of a cluster of cognitive competencies, often referred to as open-mindedness.
Originally published as Tamara L. Kuennen, The M Word, 43 HOFSTRA L. Rev. 325 (2014).
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Tamara L. Kuennen, The M Word, 43 HOFSTRA L. Rev. 325 (2014).