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Career Day: The Meditation Coach (for Lawyers)

By Jenni Gritters

Jon Krop is the founder of Mindfulness for Lawyers, based in New York City.

Describe your job.

I teach mindfulness and meditation workshops at big law firms, law schools, non-profits, and in the legal departments of big corporations. I’ve even taught at the Pentagon.

How did you become interested in meditation?

I have ADHD. When I was at Harvard Law School, everyone around me seemed so organized and focused. I felt out of my depth and I thought it could help me keep up with these machine humans.

Why did you start teaching meditation to lawyers?

After I started meditating, my friends would ask me how to deal with the stress of law school. They encouraged me to take seriously the idea of sharing meditation with other lawyers more broadly. I started to teach at a few firms on my vacation days, while still working as a lawyer. Eventually, though, my business started growing and I didn’t have enough vacation days anymore. Now I work pro bono as a lawyer, but I mostly travel and teach meditation.

“I don’t come in wearing beads or a long flowing robe. I always teach in a suit and I talk about the science of meditation first.”

What does it take to be successful?

I’m a lawyer. For good or for ill, the legal profession has a fixation on credentials, so this helps people take me seriously. I also take pains to meet people where they’re at: I don’t come in wearing beads or a long flowing robe. I always teach in a suit and I talk about the science of meditation first.

What’s a typical work day like?

I do a formal meditation practice for two hours every day, first thing in the morning. As far as work goes, every day is different. Some days I teach a workshop. Some days I’m on the phone talking with clients and potential clients. This job is a lot of sales and marketing. I also spend days designing new workshops — researching, drafting an outline, then rehearsing until I feel like I can present with no notes.

What’s the most surprising thing about your work?

I never could have imagined during the early days of my legal career that I would be in a room with 100 lawyers meditating in business casual on the top floor of a skyscraper. But I’ve found lawyers to be shockingly receptive to this practice. A lot of them are so stressed out that they’re like, “What has he got? What’s the solution?” It continues to delight me that in this profession that’s regarded as stodgy, there’s transformation.

What’s your number one meditation tip for busy city people?

I teach what I call “the mindful pause.” Counterintuitively, you have to let yourself feel anxiety in order to release yourself from it. The mindful pause involves four steps: Take a long slow breath in and out. Turn your attention toward your body and take in the sensations that you notice — maybe your feet on the floor or maybe a hollow pit of anxiety in your stomach. Bring your attention to the air passing through your nostrils. Then go back to your day a little more slowly.

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Jenni Gritters is a writer based in Seattle.

 

Illustration by Verónica Grech

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