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Law and Psychology

Combining Law and Psychology

At the core, most legal issues involve: (1) a specific behavior or series of behaviors; (2) pre-existing expectations held by people adversely impacted by the specific behavior(s); and (3) conditioned responses of those adversely impacted to the specific behavior(s) in question.  Stress typically results from these situations insofar as feelings of safety and predictability are commonly threatened.  When under stress, individuals typically revert to familiar ways of coping and assume a restrictive view both of what has happened, and the range of possibilities that may exist in potentially moving forward.

Traditional legal training is almost exclusively focused on the identification of facts (behaviors) and the application of normative judgments (laws) to these facts.  The bypassing of individual and interpersonal dynamics inherent in most legal training usually leads to less-than-optimal solutions in which one side “wins” and the other side “loses.”  Thus, the major reason that typical attorneys bypass individual and interpersonal dynamics of their clients is simply because they lack the professional training to do so.

While attorneys and psychotherapists are both ethically bound to maintain the confidentiality of their clients, traditional attorneys are not specifically trained to create an empathic environment in which clients feel safe to explore more deeply-rooted fears and insecurities commonly triggered by conflict and legal disputes.  Legal clients are rarely encouraged to explore beliefs residing below immediate consciousness – beliefs that may actually be driving their reactions to the specific behaviors that have occurred.  As a result, decisions of clients that ultimately dictate legal strategy often emanate from a narrow, fear-based point that ignores consideration of what is most true and meaningful to the client.

On the other hand, while psychotherapists are trained to create a safe, empathic space in which clients can explore and gain clarity on what is truly important to them, this is done exclusive of knowledge of the legal framework that the client must navigate to successfully address his or her situation on a practical level.

In combining practice law practice experience with training in psychotherapy, a holistic lawyer can create a unique forum in which clients can successfully address their practical concerns in optimal ways consistent with their authentic selves, and the needs of others impacted by the ways in which the situation is potentially resolved.  This level of authenticity often lies beneath the habitual reactions commonly triggered in conflict-laden situations that can usually be explored only in a specifically tailored environment conducive to such inquiry.

For more information on holistic law practice combining law and psychology, visit http://www.Holistic-Lawyer.com, or call (415) 508-6263.

About the Author

Michael Lubofsky is an attorney admitted to practice law in California and Connecticut.  He is a graduate of the Boston University School of Law, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a B.A., cum laude in Psychology.  Mike is currently completing his first year in a master’s program in Counseling Psychology at the Wright Institute in Berkeley, California.

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Holistic Divorce Holistic Philosophy Law Practice Mindfulness

SCENE: Five Steps Toward Mindful Divorce

Mindful Divorce

Below I have summarized five suggestions to help clients move more mindfully through the divorce process:

  1. Settle
    In contemporary American society, most of us are highly conditioned to avoid or turn away from difficult experiences, emotions, etc.  The fracturing of a family unit or severance of a love relationship can precipitate fear about the future, questioning of the past, and a need to restructure one’s identity and life routines.A mindful, holistic approach to divorce embraces the notion that conflict between how things are and how we have become conditioned to think they should be presents unique opportunity to examine and move beyond this conditioning.The initial step in this process requires that you do not blindly react to this situation by running away or gravitating toward some sort of habitual strategy employed in the past to sidestep challenging feelings.Thus, the first step toward mindful divorce is to simply settle in.  Relax.  As upsetting as this experience may seem, realize that this will pass, and if handled in a skillful way, can lead you to a new level of inner peace and happiness.
  2. Connect
    Once you are able to settle and calm yourself, the process of transformation has a chance of taking hold.  Try to find quiet time and space with minimal distractions and begin to connect with whatever feelings arise.  If possible, it is more helpful to connect with the felt sense of what is arising in the body versus any thoughts you are attaching to these feelings.  Feelings tend to reveal more “truth,” while thoughts are by their nature interpretive and judgmental.
  3. Explore
    In connecting to arising feelings, you are presented with an opportunity to explore what is going on with inner experience.  At this point, most of us are conditioned to employ intellect to “figure out” what is going on.  Instead, try to simply rest in awareness, simply witnessing whatever feelings arise.  With time, practice, and support, you will find that wisdom is the direct product of clear, heightened awareness – not intellectual analysis.
  4. Non-Attachment
    In beginning to explore arising feelings that arise once the mind has settled, you may well find that thoughts then arise in response to these feelings.  These thoughts, as alluded to above, will often try to interpret or “make sense” of these feelings in a  highly conditioned way.  In other words, you may try to impose meaning on these feelings that square with ways in which you have come to view your “self” or your life.The imposition of intellectual meaning on feelings or thoughts that arise can operate to further solidify a sense of “self” that can be very limiting.  Try instead to simply allow these feelings and thoughts to arise and cease as they naturally will.  You will find that by practicing this non-attachment you will become less burdened by learned conditioning and habitual reactions.  This freedom will give rise to far more flexible and effective action as we navigate the legal aspects of your divorce.
  5. Engage
    The above steps in mindfulness practice will facilitate clarity and reduce reactivity.  You will soon feel on an intuitive level that you are ready to move forward and engage more fully in your life in general and your family/marriage situation in particular.  My holistic approach integrating mindfulness and law practice will provide ongoing support and direction as we implement an optimal strategy to serve the best interests of all involved.

To learn more about holistic law practice integrating mindfulness and law, visit http://www.Holistic-Lawyer.com, or call Michael Lubofsky at (415) 508-6263.

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Holistic Divorce Holistic Mediation Holistic Philosophy Law Practice

Embracing the Not Knowing and the Transformative Potential in Conflict

holistic divorce lawyer

Pervasive conditioning from early development commonly instills a belief in the need to maintain a clearly identified direction in which our lives are headed.  The thought or concept of “not knowing” is simply not looked upon favorably in schools, the workplace, or families of origin.  Most of us can reflect back on our lives and glean the extensive amount of time and energy we have expended in trying to project the impression of being “in control” of our life direction despite several unforeseen events or outcomes that profoundly altered or changed this direction as it unfolded over time.

Legal issues, and conflict in general, involve situations that tend to rattle the foundations of lives that we came to believe we “knew” to be secure and predictable.  One of two basic orientations can be adopted when confronted with such situations.  First, one can simply try to deny the existence of these situations and do whatever he or she can to make these situations go away as quickly as possible.  The other approach is to consciously open to the unknown, seizing this opportunity to let go of our conditioned notions of how things should be, or need to be, and simply embrace what is.

This latter orientation is not one of passivity.  Rather it represents a very conscious effort to more meaningfully connect with reality, no matter how painful.  It is within this connection that we can begin to experience the freedom inherent in embracing the unknown.  In letting go the need for certainty and predictability, we open to an entirely new range of possibilities.

When facing legal issues or conflict, it is paradoxically the openness to not knowing that allows parties to move beyond egoic self-interest and access a deeper wisdom within which optimal solutions to conflict can be identified.

A holistic lawyer with extensive mindfulness training can work with clients to cultivate this openness to not knowing.  In so doing, clients can identify approaches to the resolution of conflict that they simply would not have previously considered.  To learn more about holistic law and the integration of mindfulness in law practice, visit http://www.Holistic-Lawyer.com, or contact Holistic Lawyer Mike Lubofsky at (415) 508-6263.

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Holistic Mediation Law Practice Mediation

Three Basic Types of Mediation

Most people seeking mediation services for the first time are doing so in search of less contentious, more cost-effective solutions to conflict.  The threshold factors in assessing whether a particular situation is ripe for mediation are the readiness, willingness, and ability of all parties directly involved in the conflict to open and listen to divergent points of view, and actively participate in arriving at a negotiated resolution to conflict.

Types of Mediation

The active participation of parties in crafting an optimal solution to conflict is the primary distinguishing characteristic of mediation versus formal litigation in the courts.  In court, the parties direct all communications to a judge and/or jury who then unilaterally decide how a case will be resolved.  In mediation, the parties assume a far more active role in crafting the solution to conflict.

Though all types of mediation share this fundamental distinction from adversarial litigation in the courts, three specific types of mediation have emerged: (1) Facilitative Mediation; (2) Evaluative Mediation; and (3) Transformative Mediation.  Each of these mediation types differ along primary dimensions including the needs of the parties, the role of the mediator, and the overriding goal of mediation.

Facilitative Mediation

At a basic level, interpersonal conflict arises when two or more people have different interpretations of a factual scenario that has arisen in the past.  Some conflicts (e.g., an accident) have involved perhaps a single event, while others (e.g., a marital relationship) have unfolded over perhaps a course of several years.  These past situations become problematic to one or more parties when they are interpreted in a way that violates thought-driven notions of how the other party or parties “should have” conducted themselves during the past event or series of events.

In many cases, these ideas of what “should have” happened in the past violate deeply held notions that have become an integral part of one’s perceived “self.”  To the extent this is the case, a party will manifest a strong interest in protecting that sense of self and will react defensively, and often aggressively, when other parties involved in the conflict attempt to justify, or merely explain, their past actions.

These dynamics involving self-protection manifesting in defensive reactions may demand a neutral intermediary who can effectively diffuse this tension to a point at which direct, constructive exchange between the parties becomes possible.  In this case, the mediator assumes a facilitative role in fostering constructive communication between the parties.  This role is at the heart of facilitative mediation.

Evaluative Mediation

In a second category of mediation, the challenges standing in the way of a negotiated resolution have less to do with interpersonal dynamics between the parties, and are more related to a lack of clarity in likely future outcomes of the relative positions held by each party.  In evaluative mediation, the role of the mediator draws on his or her professional expertise in being able to provide parties with a more clear understanding of the legal merits of their respective positions.

Evaluative mediation is more commonly invoked in situations involving complex factual scenarios.  In such cases, the parties lack a clear mutual understanding of what arguments are likely to be successful or unsuccessful under currently prevailing case and statutory law and/or legal doctrine.  With clarity provided by the evaluative mediator, the parties hope to reach a level of clarity that will position them to negotiate a resolution to their dispute that avoids more costly and contentious adversarial litigation.

Transformative Mediation

Transformative Mediation is available to parties who are interested in seizing the transformative potential inherent in conflict, and using that potential as a springboard for person and/or spiritual growth.  Parties explore these higher ideals in transformative mediation in addition to resolving the practical and legal aspects of their underlying dispute.

As was alluded to earlier, factual scenarios tend to rise to the level of “conflict” when they are interpreted in a way that violates one’s conditioned notions of “right or wrong,” or “good or bad” and other dualistic notions that may contribute to one’s core sense of self, commonly referred to as “ego.”  The transformative potential inherent in conflict begins with an understanding that these dualistic notions are the result of learned conditioning that in most cases long precedes that salient factual scenario giving rise to the current conflict between the parties.

In this way, conflict manifests a unique opportunity for parties to challenge and transcend many core beliefs that one may come to view as having significantly limited his or her past experiences, as well as adversely tainted past interpersonal relationships.

The transformative mediator will work to create a mediation environment in which all parties can feel safe and comfortable enough to feel, articulate, and explore the antecedents of, and reactions to conflict on a deeper level.  In so doing, parties will often come to realize that the way and/or degree to which they have reacted to other parties is actually the result of habitual reactions acquired in response to situations that occurred much earlier in life with little or no temporal relationship to the current conflict.

A skilled transformative mediator works with parties to heighten their understanding and awareness of learned conditioning and habitual reactions.  In so doing, parties walk away with the heightened realization that their current decisions and future actions need not be dictated by long-held learned conditioning.  In these ways, parties leave mediation with significantly heightened self-understanding, as well as an experienced sense of freedom resulting from the loosened grip of formerly long-held, entranched beliefs.

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Holistic Philosophy Law Practice Mediation Mindfulness

Put Away The Adding Machine

Much of suffering can be tied to some deeply conditioned notion that we have some fundamental baseline of “happiness.” When some event, stimuli, or phenomenon is interpreted as “bad,” “unpleasant,” or “painful,” we almost instinctively engage strategies to obtain something we interpret as “good,” “pleasant,” or “pleasurable,” to return our condition to this baseline.

Such an orientation toward experience gives rise to endless efforts towards “evening the score” or attempts to stockpile “positive” experiences in an unconscious and misguided attempt to insulate ourselves from feared “negative” experiences.

Obviously it makes evolutionary sense that we would be wired to seek out pleasurable experiences and invoke motivation to avoid dangerous and unpleasant outcomes. This basic instinctual motivation becomes problematic, however, when we come to view almost all life stimuli through a pleasant/unpleasant, good/bad lens. We come to move through life with a mental adding machine. When an event is interpreted as “loss,” we may immediately seek to change our experience or outcomes to even the score and again return us to baseline happiness.

Mindfulness practice can help us more clearly identify this scorekeeping tendency, and heighten our ability to meaningfully connect to present-moment experience apart from our cerebral judgements about this experience. When events and stimuli are simply experienced without this layer of judgement, they are never problematic. They may feel unpleasant, but this feeling quickly dissipates. There is no problem, and our lives our not further complicated and made more unpleasant as the result of misguided efforts to even the score.

Legal conflict almost always involves deployment of the adding machine of one or more parties. Because of this, conflict may present an optimal opportunity to become more acutely aware of our tendency to keep score. Mindfulness practice in the midst of conflict can help parties let go of their adding machine and connect with their present-moment experience. In so doing, they become far more aware of their conditioned tendencies to approach life through an interpretive lens that may be leading to experiential difficulties.

Holistic law practice actively integrates mindfulness to help clients seize the transformational opportunities inherent in conflict. To learn more about holistic law practice, visit http://www.Holistic-Lawyer.com, or call Holistic Lawyer Michael Lubofsky at (415) 508-6263.

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Law Practice Mindfulness

Legal Problems as Opportunities for Transformation

For most of us, feelings of “happiness” or “well-being” are to some extent a function of  life situations more or less conforming to preconceived notions of how life “should” be.  Such notions often include ways in which people behave towards us, together with thought-driven notions of how we need to be perceived in the minds of significant others and society at large.

Certain situations become “legal problems” when they violate these preconceived notions and internalized expectations as to how events should or should not unfold.  When these expectations are violated, most of us feel threatened and manifest some need for acknowledgment and validation that the action or inaction that has caused us harm was “wrong” by general societal standards.

There is a basic notion of “justice” that if certain societal notions of justice are violated, then the offender should compensate the “victim” to make that person whole.  But this overriding goal of restitution often becomes subordinate to vindication of the threat to one’s “happiness” brought on by these unexpected events or outcomes.

In this way, legal problems present us with valuable opportunities to more directly confront, and ultimately come to understand, our underlying expectations of how life should unfold.  Once these preconceived notions are more clearly identified, they can – perhaps for the first time – become appreciated more for what they are, i.e., mere thoughts.  These thoughts can then be differentiated form a felt connection to present-moment reality, thus providing a heightened sense of freedom from learned conditioning and habitual reactions.  In this way, legal problems may often serve as prime opportunities for personal transformation.

To learn more about holistic law practice, please contact Holistic Lawyer Michael Lubofsky, either by visiting http://www.Holistic-Lawyer.com, or by calling (415) 508-6263.

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Holistic Philosophy Mindfulness

Cultivating Calm in the Midst of Legal Problems

One of the basic tenets of Buddhist psychology can be distilled down to a single basic teaching:

That which we frequently ponder and think about becomes the inclination of the mind.

Many life situations that people would term “legal problems” involve some recognizable loss or threat of loss – loss of love, loss of identity, loss of comfort, loss of freedom, loss of physical well-being, etc.  Whether this loss is real or more a future projection, these experiences often precipitate further thoughts of danger to one’s perceived stability or station in life.  These thoughts then give rise to feelings of fear.  This fear than triggers a range of biochemical changes, as well as behavioral byproducts such as defensiveness, aggression, withdrawal or other avoidance behavior involving certain amount of disconnect from reality.

If we consider the above precept of Buddhist psychology, these extent to which we continue to entertain thoughts associated with loss will largely determine how “stuck” we become as negative thoughts associated with actual or feared loss become the inclination of the mind.

At such times it becomes especially important to take time to cultivate a grounded connection to present-moment experience.  It is this grounded connection, a felt sense of being, that is the antidote to the potentially incessant stream of negative ideation common during particularly challenging times.  To the extent that we can remain rooted in present-moment experience, our thoughts will tend to dissipate and even dissolve, giving way to an inclination of the mind towards expansiveness and compassion, even during the most challenging life situations.

As a holistic lawyer, I work with clients to help cultivate a more grounded and less reactive orientation towards challenging life situations.  It is this grounding that gives rise to optimal solutions to conflict.  To learn more about holistic law, visit http://www.holistic-lawyer.com, or call Holistic Lawyer Michael Lubofsky at (415) 508-6263.

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Holistic Philosophy Law Practice Meditation for Lawyers Mindfulness

The Critical Role of Mindfulness in Dealing with Legal Issues

Mindfulness in general, and meditation practice in particular, serves to more firmly ground one in present-moment experience apart from thought-driven notions of how things need to be different than how they are in order to be “happy.”  It is the very thought that things can be any different than they are in reality that is misguided and at the root of much suffering and unhappiness.

Mindfulness in Law PracticeA similarly misguided expectation, however, is that dedicated mindfulness practice can successfully insulate us from any existential pain that appears inherent in the human condition.  Sickness, aging, and death may lie at one end of the spectrum, while more innocuous conditions such as boredom may lie at another end.  These conditions are inevitable; but the thought-driven notions of how these conditions should not exist in the first place are illusory and are what precipitate suffering on top of the inevitable challenges of reality.

Legal issues seem to trigger a range of painful experience. As with most experiences that lead to suffering, fear is often the underlying antecedent of the suffering.  In most cases, however, this fear arises out of a thought-driven layer imposed on a condition existing in reality.  The challenge, both for attorneys and clients embroiled in conflict, is to remain open to and accepting of the actual situation in realty without becoming hooked by conditioned thought and/or judgements about the situation.

The ability to remain grounded in our experience without becoming hooked by our intellectual processing of that experience lies at the heart of mindfulness practice, and is critical for clients and attorneys trying to successfully navigate challenging life situations.

In the throes of legal issues or conflict, the cultivation of this ability, or lack thereof, will largely determine one’s ability to identify optimal solutions to often complicated issues.  To the extent that one has become hijacked by his or her thoughts in response to a given scenario, behaviors and decisions are likely to become oriented towards allaying some subconscious fear, usually related to one’s ego.  Because of the largely illusory roots of such fears, decisions and behaviors based on motivations springing from these roots will prove largely unsatisfactory, and produce less than optimal solutions for all directly or indirectly impacted by the way in which the conflict is ultimately resolved.

Thus, the ability to identify and implement optimal behaviors in response to everyday life situations in general, and legal issues or conflict in particular, is critical for happiness and demands a high degree of consciousness cultivated through sustained mindfulness practice.

More often than not, when a client comes to an attorney for advice or representation, he or she is at least partially ensnared by underlying conditioning and disconnected from present-moment reality (i.e., the reality is that he or she is caught in learned conditioning or fear, which are real, but usually not based in present-moment reality).  The goal of holistic law practice is to first help the client identify this conditioning so that he or she can then consciously disidentify from that conditioning and more meaningfully connect with what is really going on.  In so doing, the client becomes far more able to let go of unwarranted fear and become, in general, less reactive to the situation.  In becoming less reactive, he or she begins to open to a far more broad range of approaches to potentially resolve the conflict.

To learn more about the benefits of holistic law practice as a client, contact Holistic Lawyer Mike Lubofsky at (415) 508-6263, or visit http://www.Holistic-Lawyer.com.  If you are an attorney interested in how to integrate mindfulness in law practice, visit http://www.mindfulaw.com.

 

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Holistic Philosophy Mindfulness

How Mindfulness Improves Decision-Making

Mindfulness is especially valuable in conflict situations, or other situations that present challenges to central components of one’s perceived safety, self-concept, etc.  One recent study by Natalia Karelaia, Assistant Professor of Decision Sciences at INSEAD in France, suggests four central ways in which mindfulness can foster improved decision-making;

  1. Framing the Decision: As Dr. Karelaia explains, research demonstrates that mindful individuals are more likely to base decisions on their core ethical principles and, in so doing,  take action that tends to be more authentic.  Others making decisions with less mindfulness are more likely to find themselves led to a point at which they would prefer not to be;
  2. Gathering Information: While Dr. Karelaia notes some studies suggesting that mindfulness may serve to narrow one’s focus, she emphasizes the value of mindfulness in helping individuals better tolerate uncertainty and be more decisive when the time comes for action;
  3. Coming to a Conclusion: Mindful individuals, because of heightened clarity of their own core internal values, are better able to ferret out extraneous information.  This ability facilitates actual decision-making and can  lead to more timely resolution of conflict;
  4. Learning from Feedback: Perhaps the greatest value of mindfulness in the decision-making context is an improved ability to learn from experience.  Because mindful individuals are less identified with conditioned thinking and thus more freed from egoic constraints, the are more likely to lear from their experience.  In this way, they are less likely to repeat patterns that may have led to or exacerbated the situation at hand.

Each of these abilities can be cultivated by my Holistic Law Counseling Program, a multi-session program that incorporates mindfulness exercises prior to arriving at a concrete legal strategy.   For more information, visit http://www.holistic-lawyer.com, or call Holistic Attorney and Mediator Michael Lubofsky at (415) 508-6263.

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Holistic Philosophy Law Practice Mediation Mindfulness

The Importance of Mindfulness Exercises in Holistic Law Practice

The mind seems to incessantly scan the environment for problems to solve.  This active intellectual engagement with our environment likely served to ensure our survival as a species over millions of years as immediate physical dangers routinely confronted us in more primitive times.

The mind seeks problems to solve largely within the parameters of cause and effect.  Problems arise, however, when the mind latches onto a situation over which the individual lacks causal influence.  When facing such situations, one can and usually will become quickly frustrated insofar as he or she is attempting to solve a problem that is largely insoluble in an intellectual, analytical mode.

At times such as this, including times of interpersonal conflict commonly present in legal disputes, a real need arises to move beyond analytical thought and towards a wisdom arising not out of intellectual analysis, but out of a felt connection with all of life in the present moment.

Mindfulness exercises, often including meditation practice, cultivate and strengthen one’s ability to access this wisdom beyond analytical thought.

This is why holistic law practice incorporates mindfulness exercises as a necessary component of successful conflict resolution.  Insofar as parties remain locked into an analytical, thought-driven orientation to conflict, they will work – consciously or unconsciously – to reframe the issues in a way that is “intellectually manageable” and solvable largely through the exercise of personal influence.

Often, this is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.  The frustration resulting from this type of activity over a prolonged time period, in no small part, explains why tension between parties in traditional adversarial litigation tends to escalate over time.

Clients with no prior experience with mindfulness practice or meditation often understand, in theory, the value of a more holistic approach to legal conflict, but wonder how to cultivate a more grounded and less thought-driven approach.  Mindfulness exercises incorporated in holistic law practice often begin with guided attention to the breath, body, or other somatic experience.  Within a few sessions, and with some daily practice, clients report the arising of a sense of connection to present-moment experience fundamentally different from their previously narrow thought-driven orientation toward experience.  It is this constrained orientation that has left them feeling frustrated and perhaps helpless.  With some sustained practiceS, clients begin to identify potential solutions to conflict that transcend their constrained self-interest.  At this point optimal, transformative solutions to conflict become possible.

To learn more about incorporating mindfulness in law practice, contact Holistic Lawyer and Mediator Michael Lubofsky by visiting http://www.Holistic-Lawyer.com or by calling (415) 508-6263.