Law Students

Ontario’s Western Law School Offers Meditation Class
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Summary: Students at Western University Law School in Ontario are now able to take a class their first year that will help them learn how to meditate and handle stress.

First-year students at Western University Law School in Ontario get to take a class that teaches them about managing stress. Spring exams are always a stressful time for students so having a class that can help them learn how to deal with exam stress could be very valuable.

  
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The class of nearly two dozen students are having a good time, often meditating in class. The professor behind the class, Thomas Telfer, said, “If you can focus just on the present, your thoughts are not focused on the future, our to-do list or regrets about the past.”

First-year law student Kelsey Vicary said to CBC News, “When my mind is racing on the days the to-do list seems too long, the mindfulness meditation allows me to reset and refocus my mind. We have a practice called a ‘Take 5 breath,’ which I use almost daily when my mind is racing and I’m having trouble remaining present.”

Telfer says he received the inspiration for the class when dealing with his own depression. Telfer was hospitalized for depression and learned that meditation as a way of coping with depression and anxiety.

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Study after study has shown that lawyers are at a higher risk of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse problems than the rest of the population, even those in other high-stress careers. A study by Ipsos Reid in 2012 found that 58 percent of lawyers suffer from stress or burnout and around 50 percent suffer from anxiety.

Armed with this information, Telfer emailed students to get their feedback and learn if they had any interest in a class or program that would focus on meditation methods. He told CBC, “Within an hour, the course was filled.”



With the completion of the first class, a survey was sent out to students. The students stated in the results that they have an increased ability to calm down and reduce their stress. Student Daniel Park said, “Instead of focusing on a negative thought and letting it manifest, mindfulness has helped me to take a step back and let that thought pass by. I also found the group setting of this course to be beneficial because it was a healthy reminder that I wasn’t the only one struggling with certain negative or stressful thoughts.”

Telfer is now working to help other universities start their own meditation class. He just received a teaching fellowship to study mental health and mindfulness education. He said, “This is probably the most incredible learning experience I have ever witnessed in my 23 years of being an academic. The statements students are making are incredibly powerful and I learn so much from the students.”

Do you think a mindfulness/meditation type class would be valuable for all law schools? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about how schools in America are helping their student’s combat stress, read these articles:

Photo: flickr.com



 

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