April 23, 2019 Practice Management

Mindfulness 101: Clearing the Clutter in Your Brain

By Melanie Bragg

One of the things that the daily practice of mindfulness allows is to make you aware of new things in your surroundings. You begin to slow down and really contemplate the present moment. And the more you do it, the easier the practice becomes. However, it is like exercise—you only get results if you put in the time, energy, and intention.

In November I wrote about clearing your office and house clutter and freeing up energy for higher-quality engagement. It is all the rage now with Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. This month we will explore the benefits of clearing the clutter in your brain through the daily practice of mindfulness, in whatever form you choose to practice. Luckily, there is something for everyone, so there is no one right way.

The Right Questions

First you need to ask yourself the right questions. When I look around and read all the various articles and studies on the current state of the members of our legal profession, a quite dismal portrait is revealed. We place very high expectations on ourselves from the get-go, and if we don’t measure up on all fronts, then it causes problems. I collect these stories and ask myself, what questions should we be asking ourselves in order to determine how close we are to the edge of the precipice between becoming one of the people we read about in those articles? Suicide is particularly alarming in the profession. Just recently in Houston, a law school grad who had just gotten married, who had a great job and lots of law school accolades took his life. Another close and long-term peer did the same.

Something is going on, and we need to really examine ourselves and do a mental health check to make sure that we are not veering into an unsafe zone.

Some of the right questions that come to mind for me are:

  • Am I doing activities each day that give me joy and are to the good of others?
  • Are my gifts and talents being used in the best way they can possibly be used?
  • Is my work environment conducive to productivity?
  • Am I able to have challenges and effectively solve problems each day?
  • Do I have a healthy work, play, health, and relaxation flow every day?

If too much of my day is being consumed by tasks that I do not like—such talking to an opposing counsel who is demeaning or rude, or dealing with office issues such as technical glitches—is there a way to delegate that task to a staff member in order to have less of the things that are not in my highest purpose?

You may be like me because, honestly, most of the time I am too busy to ask myself questions or even think about the esoteric things in life. I am just trying to get my cases moved forward, the details taken care of, the deadlines met, and the preparation time booked efficiently. That can even be a problem when you overbook yourself. More right questions emerge.

  • Am I overcommitted?
  • If so, what should I begin to say no to?
  • Of all the things I love to do, what is most in line with my values, goals, and desires to be productive and have fun?

The reason why we don’t get the answers to some of our questions once we think of them is because our minds are still wrapped up in ego and taking care of vital things such as eating, drinking, sleeping, and the like. The great thing about slowing down in the morning, at night, or both is that once we are in a relaxed meditation state and we begin to develop this practice, our subconscious mind takes over and can really help us find the answers to our questions. I have gotten some of the best answers to my complex problems during a meditation or a relaxing massage.

During a massage about a year ago, I asked myself the question, “Why don’t I get a lot done in my home office?” With a beautiful home office surrounded by things I love, why was I not spending hours in there writing books and creating content to share? The answer came to me. It’s because you already have an office.

Right there on the massage table it snapped. My home office was set up identical to my office space and looked like a miniature law office. Light-bulb moment. The next day I arranged to have all of the office furniture in there taken to my office, and I gave all the old office furniture away. Then I created a meditation space/gym in the same space and turned the closet into the office space. I am happy to say that the shift has created a space where I spend a lot of time, and it was all discovered in a meditation in the form of a massage. It has led to my greater health, enjoyment, and development of my mindfulness practice. I have many examples of these types of experiences. The more tuned in you get to yourself and your higher being, the faster the answers will come.

Clearing the Mental Clutter

The consistent practice of meditation will help you clear the clutter in your brain—all that overthinking and creating stories about other people’s reactions that are completely illusions, with no basis in truth. Wouldn’t it be nice to shut all that off and just live from the moment of now? It becomes easier as you develop mindfulness practices, and it is such a relief because getting rid of the inner mind clutter that is holding you back is not only stress relieving, but it can extend your life and improve your health.

Meditation will clear the clutter in your brain. It will make room for the law of attraction to activate. It will get your more of what you want. I challenge you to just sign up for the Calm App and do a five-minute mediation for 30 days. The only way you will know if what I am sharing with you will work for you is if you try it.

Other shortcuts: Practice breathing techniques in the shower or bath, while putting on makeup or getting ready in the morning, at the nail salon, or in the car during traffic when you are going nowhere. Remember that your thoughts are “energy units.” Being present keeps you in the moment and increases your energy. Add some daily gratitude practice and appreciation of others, and you will find a new, calm mind that is ready to tackle the daily challenges our busy life presents.

As I share often, Eckhart Tolle has many lectures and books on Audible, and you can listen and fall asleep and pick back up wherever you are and still learn. I have found that process to be very helpful in helping me develop my mindfulness practice as an important part of my life. In fact, Eckhart Tolle is coming to Houston this weekend, and although I was set to go to the Rolling Stones concert, when Mick Jagger had to have heart surgery and the concert was canceled, I was free to attend Tolle. The cool part of it is that I volunteered to usher the event, and now I am leading the ushers and got a free ticket. Weird how that happens, right?

Clear the clutter in your brain through the practice of mindfulness.

Until next time . . . namaste. Please let me know if you have any tips, sources, or experiences with mindfulness you want to share at melanie@bragglawpc.com.

“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”—Zen proverb

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Melanie Bragg has long enjoyed a reputation as one of Houston’s fiercest attorneys in her representation of children, the elderly, and mentally disadvantaged people. Her firm, Bragg Law PC, is a general civil firm in Houston, Texas. She also writes and produces legal education programs through Legal Insight, Inc. (founded by Bragg in 1993). Her writing credits include Crosstown Park, an Alex Stockton legal thriller; HIPAA for the General Practitioner; chapters in How to Capture and Keep Clients, Second Edition; Effortless Marketing: Putting Your Unique Qualities to Work, Second Edition; and The Conscious Lawyer: How the Practice of Mindfulness Will Increase Your Bottom Line; as well as the forthcoming ABA book, Defining Moments: Insights into the Lawyer’s Soul. When she is not writing, Melanie devotes her time to her work as Chair of the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice (GPSolo) Division and to sharing ideas with fellow authors. She is interested in your feedback and ideas about how solos, small firms, military, and government lawyers can lead richer, happier lives and thereby improve the delivery of legal services to the public. Melanie can be reached at melanie@bragglawpc.com.