Gary Powell addresses some Frequently Asked Questions:
There are many ways to meditate, and most will provide positive benefits to someone who starts and maintains a regular meditation practice. Legally Mindful uses a proprietary sound-assisted technology to assist you in achieving these benefits more quickly and consistently than you will attain through a traditional meditative practice alone.
Because I was able to get into a very relaxed state quickly and easily, I found myself more likely to set aside time to meditate regularly. In addition, Legally Mindful uses a proprietary sound patterns in its sound-assisted meditation (SAM) exercises to facilitate movement into a specific state, whether it be for deep relaxation, creativity or focused thinking. There is a great deal of supportive research showing the benefit of using sound-assisted meditation techniques, some of which are accessible on the Resources page of the Legally Mindful website.
Yes. Anyone can benefit from the tools provided and lessons revealed in the Legally Mindful exercises. These exercises provide you with practices that are easily adaptable to your day-to-day personal and professional lives. Once you train your mind to go into that “creative space” you will be able to go back there when you’re not tied to the exercise, even when you are in a meeting, during a stressful situation or when you need inspiration.
Numerous scientific studies support the physical and mental health benefits of starting and continuing a meditation practice. I developed Legally Mindful based on extensive research as well as my experiences using sound-assisted meditation. Here you will find the tools and techniques that have worked best for me over the years – all backed by science. I cannot guarantee that Legally Mindful will work for any specific individual, but I can say with reasonable certainty that if you approach the exercises I put together with an open mind, and use them as I suggest, you will give yourself an excellent chance of seeing positive results in your life.
Each of the exercises start with the direction that “Your eyes should be closed, and your mind should be open to the experience.” Why is this important?
First, the exercises are designed for listening in a comfortable position with your eyes closed. I prefer a darkened room, although you can have success in any quiet environment that is available. I prefer to use noise-cancelling earbuds (although any decent earbuds or headphones will do), so long as the devices only cancel out the exterior noise, and do not alter the sound coming from the Legally Mindful app. Second, I ask you to go into the exercise with an open mind for several reasons. If you think the particular exercise will help you to relax or get into a creative state, it probably will – certainly more so than if you say, “This isn’t going to work for me.” In the Secondary Level exercises, you will be guided to visualize an event or work on a creative solution to an issue. Going into those exercises with an open mind will allow your mind to be more productive and/or creative. You will understand this better as you progress through, and experience, the different exercises.
You are strongly encouraged to get comfortable using each of the Primary Level exercises before moving on to the Secondary Level. While you should realize significant benefits from both levels, the Legally Mindful exercises are designed to build on the techniques and the experience gained from using the Primary Level exercises first. The Relax and Release exercise is really the foundational exercise for Legally Mindful.
Yes, definitely. The Primary Level exercises should prove valuable on their own. Depending on how much time I have available, I use Relax and Release (40 minutes) or the Short Relaxation Exercise (12 minutes) when I have had, or anticipate having, a stressful day. Similarly, I use the Short Relaxation Exercise during my lunch hour if I just need a break from a hectic schedule. I find the Heart-Based Compassion and Gratitude exercise helpful if I’m having trouble dealing with a particular person, or if I find myself in doldrums or a negative funk about a particular issue or situation. I’ve discovered it helps put things or people, including me, into perspective and I typically am in a better frame of mind after using it.
Having clarity of mind and being focused in our activities propels us forward and creates momentum, thus allowing us to close in on our goals. In these exercises, the idea is to focus your mind on a specific goal in the form of an intention. It may be as simple as going into the Relax and Release exercise with the intention of getting into a relaxed state and releasing negative stress. In the Creative Space exercise, you will have the opportunity to “work on” an issue of your choice; the same for the Meeting Room exercise. It is best to go into these exercises with an intention, such as “to be open to finding a creative way to address the contract with the XYZ Company” or “to gain confidence in my ability to represent my client in the upcoming mediation.” While the goal should be somewhat specific, that is focusing on a particular task, it is important to be open to potential solutions or ideas that come to you in the exercise.
This is a difficult question to answer because everyone “receives” information differently. During the exercises, you will be in a relaxed-yet-focused meditative state. Although it may seem as though you see, hear or feel things while in this state, your five senses are not feeding you information at that time. Despite this, some people gain knowledge “visually” – in a picture or as a “visual” moving scene in their mind. Others report that they “hear” words or details about an issue in their minds while meditating. Still others obtain their information kinesthetically, as a movement or tension in muscle, a tingling or even pressure somewhere in the body. People who intuit their messages in this way often report that an idea or data is accompanied by a physical sensation of some sort which is indicative to them of the message’s importance. In my case, I typically take in what I call a packet, or a download, of information seemingly all at once. This kind of “aha experience” then has to be “unpacked” in order to be understood. If you’ve never had any experiences in a deep meditative state, this likely sounds odd or may not make sense. There are no “right ways” or “wrong ways” to collect or gather information. Just be open to the myriad of ways you might receive it. The importance rests in being able to recognize, distill and interpret the message and its purpose.
Yes. It is helpful to write down your intention for an exercise prior to its start; that helps you to articulate what your goal is in advance. This is especially true of the Creative Space and Meeting Room exercises; their intent is to help in creatively coming up with solutions to problems, clarifying issues or cultivating confidence. After the exercise ends, it is equally beneficial to write down and reflect upon the experiences you had during that exercise. The act of writing about these experiences may bring better clarity and transform what is thought to be an innocuous word, thought or image into a revelatory solution or viewpoint.
In the Meeting Room exercise, we are asked to visualize a meeting, presentation or other event. What benefit is there to such visualizations?
Research suggests that visualization can produce the same firing of neurons and release of chemicals as doing the act physically. Many athletes use visualizations to improve their performances. Legally Mindful takes it a step further by assisting you in getting into a creative-but-focused state to “practice” an activity like a meeting, presentation, test or other event. If you are visualizing a meeting, you can even “invite” other participants into the meeting and visualize your positive interactions with those invitees. I have used this method for getting ready for meetings, oral arguments and other events. I would suggest even “seeing” the outcome of your visualization; that is, see yourself leaving the meeting with the results you desired, or see yourself receiving the grade you wanted from the particular test. Such visualization may provide an increased level of confidence during such events.
Why are we asked to visualize and use a changing room in the Meeting Room and Creative Space exercises?
You will be introduced to and practice the visualization and use of a changing room in the Introductory Exercise for the Secondary Level. The changing room is meant to establish a ritual you will use in the beginning of the Meeting Room and Creative Space exercises to get your mind focused on your intention. Rituals have been shown to help drive peak performance by desensitizing the brain’s anxiety-related reaction to error, thereby mitigating the negative experience of personal failure. You will be asked to imagine, or visualize, that you are in a changing room where you can leave behind any thoughts about work or personal issues, any pre-conceived notions about what will occur during the exercise, or any other worries, anxieties or concerns that might otherwise get in your way during the exercise. The idea is to get your mind to symbolically put aside any potential distractions from your waking life and to allow your mind to function optimally in the meditative state. If your mind wanders from your intention for the exercise, which it will on occasion, you should be able to get back more easily to your intention and not dwell on your “failure” to stay on task.
Especially when you are becoming comfortable using the Legally Mindful exercises, I would not make a habit out of moving too much during an exercise, but by all means make adjustments if you are uncomfortable. Be reassured that if you do have to move or address an itch, cough or other distraction the SAM signals will help get you back into your meditative state quickly. Although you may lose your train of thought occasionally, writing in your journal following the exercise may be enough to bring the thought back to you.
Since the SAM signals are designed to help you stay in a relaxed-but-focused meditative state, you may not have been asleep. Rather, it’s easy to confuse falling asleep with what those experienced in meditative states might call “clicking out.” Let’s explore the difference and offer some reassurances.
I have had several exercises over the years when it did not feel like I was fully awake, yet I didn’t feel sleepy at the end of the exercises; I wasn’t groggy as if I had fallen asleep and taken a nap. This is not unusual when using audio-assisted meditation exercises and it is often referred to as “clicking out.” Following such an episode, I sometimes get information later that day, during the night, or even the following morning – perhaps while in the shower. While the information presented itself well after the exercise, its very presence tells us that valuable instruction may be had despite the appearance of inattention. Trust that something positive is going on and that you will discover what it was in due time.
If you find you had fallen asleep, don’t panic. It probably means that you needed some sleep and were best served in that manner. Just accept falling asleep in the one exercise for what it was, and perhaps set your intention in the next one to stay awake being careful to voice your intention in a positive (“stay awake”) as opposed to a negative (“don’t fall asleep”) voice.
When you close your eyes and start listening to a Legally Mindful exercise, the SAM signals will help you get very relaxed, but your mind should still be “awake.” You will not be using your five external senses at that time. You can experience a light meditative state by closing your eyes and simply noticing how you are feeling when you do this. The goal with meditation is to get into a deeper state, where your mind is still aware but much less “conscious” of the world around you than you are with your eyes open. You are more focused on your “inside” world than what is outside of you.
Your mind naturally sends you random thoughts throughout your day that can distract you from what you are trying to do. The same thing happens during meditation. One of the early goals in meditation is to have fewer distracting, random thoughts coming and going through your mind.
As you start your meditation practice, when random thoughts come into your mind, especially during the Relaxation Exercises, don’t dwell on the fact that the thoughts appeared, just notice the thoughts and let them fade away without paying any real attention to them. An easy way to do this is by noticing that you had a random thought and just return your attention to your breath, without any effort directed toward the random thought.
By noticing the random thoughts, instead of trying to ignore them or trying to “make” them go away, you become aware that your mind does this to take your attention away from what you want to do, and with that awareness and not giving the thoughts any mind, those random thoughts should decrease in number in a short period of time. This will allow you to be in a deeper meditative state where you can use your focused attention on creative solutions to issues, or visualizing a meeting, or working on your own health and well-being.
If you have questions that were not addressed, please email [email protected].