If you want to find the heart and soul of a profession, pay attention to the pain as well as the joys in it. That was the method journalist Steven Keeva followed in writing the very best book I’ve seen — out of hundreds — in the field of spirituality and work.
Transforming Practices: Finding Joy and Satisfaction in the Legal Life by Steven Keeva is just as powerful a transformative tool for real estate agents, receptionists, doctors or people in any other profession as it is for lawyers, judges and legal staff. That’s because Steve wrote about how ordinary people, without permission from the powers that be, bring transforming practices (such as meditation) into their work and thus transform whatever is their work. Plus, legal work touches all of us, and if lawyers can work more effectively by working more deeply from their souls, then there’s more hope for all of us.
Steven Keeva’s writing and speaking voice have been stilled for several years due to illness. His website, www.transformingpractices.com, was hacked into some time ago and has not yet been restored. His book was for several years out of print. Now the American Bar Association has brought Transforming Practices back. If there is only one book you could read to discover the heart and soul of your work, this is it.
Transforming Practices is full of juicy stories and practical tips that anyone can use to rediscover the values that drew us to our professions and to steer clear of ethical sandbars or to keep energy and spirit alive through difficult times. As several attorneys noted in a tribute to Steve at a convention of the International Association of Holistic Lawyers, it’s a lot easier to make changes in a sometimes hidebound profession when someone else has helped make more creative and compassionate ways of operating better known and acceptable.
As you hear some of those tributes to Steve on YouTube, you can be inspired about the impact one person can have when we simply take time to listen, to reflect, and to articulate the longings in others’ hearts that they do not yet know how to speak.
Spirituality and law was not Steve’s original beat for the ABA Journal. His introduction to the field came first from recognizing how dispirited many lawyers are, for when Steve had to consult with attorneys about a story he was writing, they often poured out their frustrations with the profession. After discovering the field of spirituality and work about the mid-90’s, he started searching for signs of spirituality in law. Soon he had enough examples to pitch an article on the subject to the ABA Journal. Research on the article led to the initial publication of Transforming Practices.
I first connected with Steve while he was finishing Transforming Practices through my friend Judi Neal, Judi’s story of how her meditation practices transformed her experience as a whistleblower and legal client became the center of Chapter 11 of Transforming Practices.
It’s been a joy to speak to Steve over the years, to trade e-mails, and once to speak with him and Stewart Levine about spirituality and law at a spirit and work conference at the University of Massachusetts some years ago.
Steve may never be able to write again. Those of us who have loved talking with him may never be able to carry on a conversation with him again.
Fortunately, the stories he has told and the simple, clear instructions he has given will endure. So will his model for transforming a profession: listen to your own heart. Take good notes. Listen to others. Take good notes. Open your heart to the hearts of others. Take good notes, and when you are ready, share the best words that your heart can find to express what matters.
As always, many blessings,
Pat McHenry Sullivan