We are privileged to have, as a guest blogger, attorney Erin Dean. I have known Erin for a number of years. She is from Beaufort, South Carolina and maintains a very active (and successful) litigation practice in our state. But this post isn’t about the world of litigation. It’s about what happened to her when she left that world for a week.
White sandy beaches, crystal blue water, kaleidoscope sunrises and sunsets and a daily schedule that consists of yoga, food, more yoga and even more food. I have just returned from a week-long yoga retreat in Tulum, Mexico where the most taxing decision I had to make on a daily basis was whether to work on my tan or bike to the Mayan ruins. For one week my life would no longer be dictated by someone else’s schedule, deadlines or billable hours. We practiced yoga twice a day: at 7:45 am and 5:00 pm and were provided clean, healthy, gluten-free, dairy free, pescatarian gourmet meals at 9:00am, 1:00pm and 6:30pm. The rest of each day was devoted to “free time.” A concept generally unfamiliar to lawyers. I had the opportunity to truly be present without letting “real life” distractions get in the way. But alas, I am not hard-wired that way and spent many an afternoon on my electronics checking and responding to emails. Nothing urgent-just the daily give and take that comes with the practice of law. Much like the proverbial chicken little, I found myself habitually checking to make sure the sky had not fallen while I was soaking up vitamin D. This is my normal, but as I looked around at the 15 other inspiring, professional women on the retreat, I noticed it was only the lawyers who continually had one eye on our iPhones as the days turned into night. What is it about our profession that prevents us from being fully present, even in the most beautiful setting imaginable?
Perhaps we are so conditioned to be on high alert, that relaxation becomes our enemy, a perceived weakness. Is it so important for us to be busy, thinking three steps ahead that we simply cannot justify living in the moment? Or is it really that by concentrating on our job, that we purposely avoid being present in our daily lives?
As the week wore on, I did find myself checking the iPhone less frequently and found that when I quit relying on the work to fill my days, the world didn’t end. In fact, I was actually able to make what I hope to be lifelong connections with the other participants. And perhaps even more importantly, I was finally able to achieve a state of relaxation. And I have to admit, it was a great feeling! Real Life does happen away from our jobs. Even though it does not come naturally to us as attorneys, it is important to practice being present-to actually show up in your own life-and who knows, it may even become your new normal!
–By Erin Dean, Esq.