C.A. Esquire- 5 Mantra’s of Law School Sanity Retention

Picture from Trey Ratcliff, who has this AMAZING site- Stuck In Customs- where I drool over his photography. Now if I were to have to study in a library like this, well, I would not object at all!

Sustaining my legal education drive- not so easy.

“Affad Shaikh,” I tell myself while studying Civil Procedure, “this will not work at all, you have to stay focused.”  But truth be told, I am starting to loose some steam in studying.  Sustaining that level of intense focus on the law is not easy, in fact, its ridiculously hard.  If I didn’t have a firm commitment and understanding and desire to be here doing the day-in-day-out law readings, I can see how I would totally be chilling on the beach.  The beach is a much better alternative to reading case briefs.  Plus, when I got supplements, why not just rely on those and use my time to relax?  Not exactly the right mind frame.

There are five things I keep telling myself, over and over again, to keep my sanity.  I refer to them as “mantra’s.”  I realize there are some benefits and some implications that stem from these mantra’s. But maybe I should relate why I have resorted to mantra-dom.

The Mantra Genesis

During my LSAT studying I had this saying “First the Test, then all the Rest!” to keep me focused on the test and also to help me overcome a really big weakness, I could never say “no” coupled with I always felt like if I wasn’t present at something I wasn’t relevant.  That created for a really bad situation.  I first recognized these shortcomings (which isn’t an easy thing to do, to admit that you have these faults and no one else is at fault.  You know that whole “hold yourself accountable” nonsense).  I than had to constructively find a way to slowly wean myself in a new direction- cold turkey business does not work for me.

I guess getting all religious was helpful in making these incremental changes in my life.  Starting off with the idea of “shahadah” or declaration of faith in Islam and reflecting on what it really meant not just the mind numbing recital “there is no God but God, and Muhammad is the last Messenger” allowed the statement to become a “mantra” of sorts for me to internalize.  Now before I get branded a religious heretic for analogizing the Islamic concept with the Hindu/Buddhist/Sikhism/Jainism concept, lets discuss “mantra.”

What the heck is a Mantra, and, Brother why are you espousing Bidah in Islam?

In its most simplest of understandings, a mantra is s a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of “creating transformation.”  I don’t see a single iota of trouble there?  I mean in Islam we also have this concept of words/sayings if internalized can have the power to transform you.  The Prophet wanted us to (SAW) hold on strongly to the Quran, because it was a direct way to connect with God.  By memorizing the Quran, by reciting it regularly, by seeking its wisdom through study and contemplation we had a means to internalize the fitra that God had set out in the Quran.

Besides that there is Dhikr, which is a means of remaining God conscience in our life.  We create simple mnemonic to memorize science concepts, which in essence are a mantra that help you transform a failing grade to a half-decent grade.  I think if the concept is removed from its religious context, its something that has universality to it and applicable in other theological frameworks as well.  So why not mantra-it-out?!

My 1L mantras are as follows, I will work to elaborate on the other four individually later:

  1. I am not stupid– read previous post “the 1L way: constantly feeling stupid?
  2. Stay in the library.
  3. All in, or nothing.
  4. All struggles have sweet rewards.
  5. Studying the law is my jihad (spiritual, mortal, psychological struggle).

4 thoughts on “C.A. Esquire- 5 Mantra’s of Law School Sanity Retention

  1. i like this! it does take mediation and intense focus. the rewards are sweet, our schooling is a jihad, and ….it most definitely is all or nothing, but once we have finished for the day, what a relief!


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