TEDxMarin Speaker Rhonda Magee Talks About Mindfulness

Rhonda Magee (photo by Blake Farrington)

What if mindfulness could be used to lower the stress levels of law students and practicing lawyers? What if it could help police respond to calls with more empathy and help all of us rethink how to bring equality to social justice? This year, Rhonda Magee, who specializes in these topics professionally as a lawyer, author, public speaker and USF professor teaching mindfulness-based stress reduction, joins 15 other speakers who will all seek to challenge conventional thinking at the first-ever online broadcast of TEDxMarin.

Magee was born in Kinston, North Carolina, in 1967, when segregation was the de facto reality and the community was steeped in racism. It was her grandmother who taught her how a mindfulness practice could help: “I would see the evidence of her using the practice of a centering prayer every morning to ground herself in her own value and worth.” Magee eventually found her way to the Bay Area and has been a full-time faculty member at USF since 1998 and a full professor since 2004.

“I became inspired to start offering mindfulness to folks in law,” she says about her time in law school. “At that time, it was innovative in nature.”

Magee says this practice is needed because there is a crisis among those on the legal front lines. “It’s the predictable consequences of this being a profession in which we are prepared to rush in toward the fire and the conflicts and be of some support.”

And when it comes to the topic of policing, racism and equality in all levels of the criminal justice system, mindfulness can play an important role there, too, Magee says. “There are many efforts to incorporate mindfulness into the training of a range of different participants in law enforcement: police, prosecutors, defense counsel or judges. I’ve been involved with training of folks at all of those levels and it is ongoing,” she says. “We can redirect this hyper-investment in a warlike, militarized policing model and start supporting policy makers, as I have done, to come up with more of a community-enhancing, proactive investment.”

If You Go

See the TEDXMarin HD broadcast online at 6 p.m. on September 12. Ticketing options include watching within 24 hours or within one week. PPV options will be available for two months.
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