Tag Archives: Organizations

Take Your Mindfulness Meditation To Work! A Conversation on Let’s Coach With Mark & Carolyn

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“Meditation is a way of being, not a technique. Meditation is not about trying to get anywhere else. It is about allowing yourself to be exactly where you are and as you are, and the world to be exactly as it is in this moment.”  ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn

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Listen To The Show

Today, I joined hosts Carolyn Owens and Mark Thorn on their Blog Talk Radio Show, Let’s Coach With Mark & Carolyn.  Our topic was “Take Your Mindfulness Meditation To Work”.  I just wanted to share some of what we discussed and a link to the show for you to explore.

The relationship between our personal lives and our work lives has often been one of disconnection or separation.  When we go to work, we put on our work persona.  When we come home, we take it off.  Even when organizations and individuals desire to be more open, authentic and heart-centered, the transition is difficult.

It is such a fascinating time when we see science is getting on board with what spirituality has long know – meditation is a powerful tool for both consciousness and well-being.  I am amazed to see each week new information being shared about a variety of practices and one that seems to be in the forefront is mindfulness meditation.  Here is a brief summary of recent research from Dan Seigel, co-director of UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center:

• University of New Mexico researchers found that participation in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course decreased anxiety and binge eating.

• Office workers who practiced MBSR for twenty minutes a day reported an average 11% reduction in perceived stress.  

• Eight weeks of MBSR resulted in an improvement in the immune profiles of people with breast or prostate cancer, which corresponded with decreased depressive symptoms.

• A prison offering Vipassana meditation training for inmates found that those who completed the course showed lower levels of drug use, greater optimism, and better self-control, which could reduce recidivism.

• Fifth-grade girls who did a ten-week program of yoga and other mindfulness practices were more satisfied with their bodies and less preoccupied with weight.

• A mix of cancer patients who tried MBSR showed significant improvement in mood and reduced stress. These results were maintained at a checkup six months later.

• The likelihood of recurrence for patients who had experienced three or more bouts of depression was reduced by half through Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, an offshoot of MBSR.

• After fifteen weeks of practicing MBSR, counseling students reported improved physical and emotional well-being, and a positive effect on their counseling skills and therapeutic relationships. (Source: The Science Of Mindfulness)

So, what is mindfulness?

Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, defines mindfulness as “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.

Mindfulness is a not just a practice, but a state of being in attention to the present moment.  When you’re practicing mindfulness, you are observing your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judgement, comparison or the need to understand.  It is a way to be present to life as it unfolds.  It’s simply practicing moment to moment awareness.

Here are some of the overall benefits of mindfulness practice:

  • Reduced stress
  • Decreased anxiety and depression
  • Improved self-awareness
  • Boosts to working memory 
  • Clarity and Focus 
  • Less emotional reactivity 
  • Relationship satisfaction
  • Improved immune functioning
  • Sense of well-being
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Increased empathy and compassion

How can this support our us in the world of work?

As Dan Seigel mentioned in his overview of scientific research, mindfulness meditation has been shown to benefit people at work as well as in their personal lives.  Mindfulness supports greater clarity, clearer focus, improved wellness, reduced stress, increased productivity, stronger resiliency and even enhanced creativity – these are all things that can benefit us in the world of work, whether we work in a large corporation or are a self-employed entrepreneur.

For an individual, mindfulness meditation offers a way to stay present, focused and bring more of our authentic self to our work.  For organizations, mindfulness meditation offers an opportunity to cultivate a culture of clarity, focus and employee engagement.  For both, it also supports a new paradigm for leadership development that is based on authenticity, self-awareness and openness.

Basically, bringing mindfulness meditation practice to work is a win-win situation.  So, whether you are an individual wanting to bring your personal practice more fully into your daily life or an organization wanting create change, bringing mindfulness practice to work offers a powerful tool for transformation.  We can see this happening at companies like Google, Apple, Proctor and Gamble, General Mills, Harpo Studios and The Huffington Post.

Some ways to incorporate mindfulness into your work:

Ways to incorporate mindfulness into your work:

  • Practice the “just one breath meditation”.  Simply take a mindful breath, noticing the sensations of the breath, where you feel it in your body, the rhythm of the breath and/or labeling it “breathing in and breathing out.
  • Count your next five breaths.
  • Give yourself a break – get up, stretch, step a way for just a moment.
  • Go for a mindful walk around the office or go outside and get some fresh air.
  • Feel your feet on the floor. Feel the support of the earth beneath you.
  • Give some attention to you body.  Notice where you feel might feel tension or discomfort.  Bring the breath to that area for just a moment.
  • Pause and notice all of the sounds around you, just listen and notice.
  • Get a mindfulness app or set a timer to remind you to pause several times during the day. 

Feel free to comment or share on how you bring mindfulness or other meditation practices to your world of work! 

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Blog: The Heart Of Awakening: Searching For A New Paradigm

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Day 20 ~ May Is For Metta 2013: Take Your Metta To Work Day

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Quanyin

Take Your Metta To Work Day

An Exploration in Bringing Loving-kindness Practice to the World of Work

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Our intention for today will be to bring our Metta practice more fully into our daily lives.  Today, is Take Your Metta To Work Day.   Although the main focus will be to bring Metta into our work life, it can really be explored anywhere  – at work, at school, or in the community.  Feel free to adapt the practice so it works for you.

The relationship between our personal lives and our work lives has often been one of disconnection or separation.  When we go to work, we put on our work persona.  When we come home, we take it off.  Although things are shifting, the process is still slow.  Even when organizations and individuals desire to be more open and heart centered, the transition is difficult as there is really no pattern to follow.

Metta practice offers a way for an individual to stay connected with their heart center and bring more of their authenticity to all of their experiences, including work.  The goal is to allow one’s whole, integrated self to emerge and shine through.  Metta offers organizations an opportunity to cultivate a culture of open-heartedness, mindfulness and acceptance.  Meditation practice also supports greater clarity, clearer focus, improved wellness, reduced stress, increased productivity and enhanced creativity in the workplace.

Basically, bringing Metta meditation practice to work is a win-win situation.  So, whether you are an individual wanting to bring your personal practice more fully into your daily life or you are an organization wanting create change, bringing Metta practice to work offers a powerful tool for transformation.

For anyone who is joining in at this time, it may be helpful to read the earlier posts on Exploring Metta and Days 1 – 3 to gain an understanding of the foundational practices.  As we Take Our Metta To Work, I encourage you to continue a sitting practice if you have been cultivating one.  However, you can also do the practice at work or on your way to work.  This is an opportunity to bring Metta more fully into daily life and carry our practice to work.  Feel free to “just play” and explore what is best for you today.

It is good to begin the day with Metta practice for yourself but you can also do it as you arrive at work as a way to engage your whole self and move into your work from a heart centered place.  This can be both exciting and scary, so as always remember to be gentle and loving with your self.  The greatest gift of bringing Metta to work is continuing to carry your personal practice of Loving-kindness with you wherever you go and allowing your true self to come through in a space where you may have a tendency to constrict your own essence.

Daily Practice:  Do your foundational practices.  Find a comfortable position. Imagine yourself in the center of a circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness.  Connect with your own heart center and begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself:

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free of suffering.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

Even if you did your practice at home, take a few moments as you arrive at work to center yourself in the heart and repeat a round of two or phrases for yourself.  As you go about your day, do this a few times.  Any time that you experience stress or difficult emotions during your day, explore using your foundational practices – imagine your circle of loving beings surrounding you,  connect with your heart center or repeat some phrases for yourself for a few moments.  You will be amazed to see how a moment or two of Metta can change your day.

Sometimes people like to do this periodically throughout the day, in a proactive way.  One of my clients sets an alarm on his cell phone every hour that reminds him to take a moment to cultivate Metta for himself.  This helps him to stay connected to the heart as well as remain centered and grounded.  He finds that this supports his ability to be more focused, balanced and productive throughout the day.

One of the overall intentions of May is for Metta is to support transformation in our world and organizations are an important part of it.  So, I invite you to include a few moments of today’s practice for your organization.  You can choose the whole organization or if it feels to large, you can work with your department or team.

Remember you can adapt this practice to work, school or community depending on how you spend your day.  The idea is to bring our loving-kindness and compassion to a larger community that we are a part of and that we share a common experience with.  This helps to foster a more compassionate connection within our organizations and communities.  It can also support the alignment of organizational energy and mission.

Check that you are centered in the energy of loving-kindness.  If you need to practice a bit more for yourself, do so.  Then, when you are ready, begin to offer Metta for your whole organization, remembering that an organization is made up of individuals and is also its own energetic entity.  You are offering Metta to everyone and everything that makes up your organization, school, or community.  Say to yourself, “Just as I wish to be happy and peaceful, so do all beings within my organization.”  Begin to offer the phrases remembering that you, too, are a part of this organization:

  • May we be happy.
  • May we be peaceful.
  • May we be free of suffering.
  • May we have ease of well-being.

As always, if your mind wanders, just notice and return to the phrases.  Sometimes, working with a larger group is difficult or you may have mixed feelings about some of the people you work with or the organization itself.  Just notice.  This is something to explore.  A part of our practice is noticing where we experience openness and spaciousness and where we experience resistance or constriction.  This is a way of getting to know ourselves more deeply and recognizing how we respond to our experiences in the world.

If you continue to struggle or difficult emotions arise, return your practice to your self until your feel more settled.  When you feel ready, once again offer the phrases for your organization.  If working with your whole organization is too much, or difficult to hold your attention on, then you can switch to a smaller group within the organization.

When you feel ready to move on, enter into your heart center once again.  Connect with the loving-kindness within your self.  Envision yourself in your circle of loving beings.  Do this in whatever way feels good to you. Take a few moments to reflect on your practice.

Other opportunities for practice today including offering Metta for someone  you work with who you find difficult or challenging or for a coworker who you consider a friend.  Perhaps there is even someone you notice at work who fits into the category of Neutral Being, but for some reason you feel to offer loving-kindness to them today.  If you can, try to offer Metta for all of the categories as you go about your day.  This does not need to be in any order but just as you remember or notice an opportunity for practice.

At the end of your day, dedicate the merit of today’s daily practice for all beings.   Consider all of the beings you have practiced for today and offer the merit of your practice for their benefit and also, for all organizations to be more heart centered.  Remember that as you offer up the merit of your practice, you are not giving it away or losing it but you are actually generating more merit through the act of giving.

Journal Notes:  How did it feel to explore bringing Metta to work?  How did it feel to do Metta for your organization?  Did you have difficult feelings or emotions arise during your practice?  If so, spend some time writing about them.  Did you take some time to return to your heart center and offer Metta to yourself throughout the day?  If yes, how did it feel to do so?  If not, why?  Were you too busy?  Were you able to explore the various categories while at work?  How does it feel to consider being more loving and compassionate to yourself and others at work?

May you have a peaceful and joyful day.

 

7 Motivations To Take Your Metta To Work: Transforming Our World & Our Work With Loving-kindness Meditation

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In 2012, the average American, as well as many people in other countries, spends a majority of their waking hours at work.   For many, the workplace has become the community that we are most a part of.  Time for family and social activities is often limited; time for wellness and self-care may be neglected or non-existent.  Additionally, although the workplace is our “community”, it is a place where we tend to feel disconnected, drained and oftentimes dejected.  Even the most motivated and engaged individuals seem to eventually succumb to burnout.

People often seek to develop a practice of meditation to help support their overall health and well-being as well as to become more connected to their authentic selves.  So many people struggle to find the time to practice; this is one of the most common obstacles to meditation.  And yet, it is a bit of a catch-22 as practicing actually helps to improve one’s quality of life by fostering a deeper connection with oneself and a sense of increased spaciousness in one’s life.  When a person can make the space for meditation, their experience of life changes.  A meditation practice does not have to be limited to a meditation cushion in a quiet room; it can be done anytime, anywhere.

Metta or loving-kindness meditation is a powerful practice to incorporate in daily life.  It is accessible, easy to learn and can support bringing spiritual practice and mindfulness with you wherever you go, including the world of work.   Bringing meditation to the workplace can support both individual wellness and improved organizational health.

Here are 7 Motivations To Take Your Metta Meditation To Work:

1. Supports Wholeness.

Metta meditation offers a way to be more present in each moment and connect with one’s whole self.   As we get to know who we are on a deeper level, our authenticity and sense of purpose begins to emerge.  Bringing our whole self to work allows for increased focus, improved performance and overall ease of well-being.

2. Fosters Wellness.

Stress-related and work-related illnesses are one of the main contributors to physical and mental health issues.  Many people are most impacted by their work, where they spend a lot time and often neglect personal needs.  Work environments and work demands are frequently not conducive to health and wellness leading to even more chronic illness.  Studies show that meditation can help to reduce the effects of stress and increase immune system function.

3. Cultivates Openheartedness. 

Work is a place we tend to be more focused in the mind than the heart.  Evolutionarily, we are moving into a time when we are shifting into a more heart-centered world.  Many people are experiencing this shift and struggling to integrate it into their daily lives, especially when at work.  When we are able to move from the place of our heart center, we experience a more positive attitude toward life, we connect with our intuition and we feel a deeper sense of connection.

4.  Develops Mindfulness.  

In our present day and age, not only are we busy with our work, but also we are moving back and forth with our varied technologies.  We are emailing, texting, tweeting and more.  Meditation and mindfulness help us to be more present in the moment, develop greater awareness, and increase our responsivity to ourselves, others and the world.  Metta practice supports cultivating greater mindfulness through the vehicle of loving-kindness practice.

5. Increased Creativity.

In his book “Imagine” Jonah Lehrer shares about the neuroscience of creativity.  One of the principles he discusses is the “Aha Moment” which is necessary for creativity.  This “Aha Moment” is when new ideas emerge.  For this to occur, we need to create spaciousness, which allows time for ideas to emerge and problems to be solved.  For many of us, our tendency is to approach work and problem solving from a push-push perspective; often, we want things done yesterday.  It is rare that we the take time to step back, relax and let our answers come.  Metta meditation offers us that spaciousness; it moves us into a heart-centered space and one of loving-kindness for ourselves and for others.  This in itself shifts our habitual tendencies and fosters new ideas and possibilities.

6. Fosters Work Culture.

Many organizations are becoming more focused on the importance of work culture.  Many individuals within organizations are seeking a sense of connection and community in the workplace.  A well-developed work culture includes openness, empathy, tolerance, awareness, caring, trust and responsiveness.  Metta mediation allows for organizations and individuals to become more open, aware and connected.  Additionally, focusing on the values centered on the heart, such as loving-kindness and compassion, creates an environment of understanding and empathy.

7. Embodies The New Paradigm.

The world is changing and the world of work is changing, too.  Some organizations and individuals are embracing this; others are resisting.  Some organizations want to be different but don’t know how.  By cultivating Metta, loving-kindness and being more present and mindful, organizations and individuals begin to shift from an energetic of competition to collaboration and from a mind focused perspective to one that includes heart-centeredness.  The biggest shift is in the transition from having an idea of what values are important to the actual cultivation and embodiment of core values.  When an organization and its individual members embrace a set of “be values” rather than ideas, a new paradigm emerges.

To learn more about Metta or Loving-kindness practice, visit our May is for Metta page, which offers a 31-day guided exploration of Metta meditation.  Also, be sure to explore Take Your Metta To Work Week, which offers a guided five-day practice, which  brings Metta meditation to the world of work.

Customized training and programs are available for organizations that are interested in bringing Metta and other Meditation and Mindfulness Programs into the workplace.  Visit www.bethterrence.com to learn more.

Loving-kindness: It’s Not As Easy As It Sounds

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As Take Your Metta To Work Week comes to an end, I was planning to add an additional post giving an overview of the benefits of taking your practice to work.  I have decided to hold off on that post for now to share a bit more of my personal experience with this practice.

As someone who has been practicing meditation for over 30 years and focusing on living from a deep heart centered place for more than decade, I still find that there are times when doing all the “right” things is difficult.  It’s almost three months since I began the Heart of Awakening.  During that time, I made a decision to really step forward in working with organizations in addition to individuals.  This is something I have done in various ways over the years and now has become something I feel truly passionate about doing.

This desire to bring awareness, authenticity and a heart-centered approach to organizations and the workplace was one of my motivations in adding Take Your Metta To Work Week to this year’s May is for Metta program.  Today’s post really focused on what can arise inwardly as we practice.  And, it is this material, the voices, thoughts, and limiting beliefs, which we are more able to access during meditation or loving-kindness practice, that can really keep us stuck.

Although outwardly it may seem as if I have been very active this week posting daily on May is for Metta and elsewhere, inwardly I have been experiencing a strong feeling of being stuck.  As I have been working with the Metta practice and moving forward with my work, many negative thoughts and beliefs have been coming to the surface.  Some of these include feeling not good enough, worthy enough, and capable enough to do all I am setting out to do, even though what I am doing is really just a shift in the focus of my work.   It is easy for my friends and colleagues who support me to see that these feelings and beliefs are not really true, and yet, when I am experiencing them, I can feel hopeless, powerless and incredibly stuck.

I am sharing this part of my experience because this is something that can emerge whether you are a brand new practitioner to Metta and meditation or whether you are an experienced practitioner.  When we create stillness in our lives and enter into the heart space, stuff comes up.  We face what’s inside ourselves and if we are able to continue our practice, we begin to change.  But, it’s not always easy.

I tend to find that work is a place where I set such high standards for myself that I am destined to feel like a failure even when I am incredibly successful.  This is a pattern that has become more evident to me during this month’s practice and it is also one that has had the power to keep me from moving forward in the past.  It has not been easy to face this aspect of myself.  Even while doing the daily practice and actively bringing Metta into my daily life, I have found it extremely difficult to be consistently gentle and loving with myself over the past week.  I feel like I have touched on a pattern that goes so deeply into my core.  And although I have felt challenged in many ways, I know that when these types of feelings and struggles are at the surface, they are closer to being transformed.

Life is a process and through our practice, we learn where our inner work lies.  I am continually amazed at how powerful our conditioned mind and habitual patterns remain even when we do so much to change them.  This is one of the reasons why daily practice and building a strong foundation of loving-kindness is so important.  It’s important to stick with it even when it feels like things are falling apart or we feel like we are stuck.  It is often in these moments when we are about to have a paradigm shift; we just don’t know it yet.

I am thankful for everyone who has shared in the journey of May is for Metta so far.  I am excited to see what emerges in our final week of online practice.

Day 25 of May is for Metta: Take Your Metta To Work Week, Transforming Ourselves Through Loving-kindness

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Day 25

Take Your Metta To Work Week

An Exploration in Bringing Loving-kindness Practice to the World of Work

“At a certain point we must, without self-hatred, stand at a crossroads, hear the little voice that says “You can go in a new direction,” heed that voice and make a choice to end suffering.

Fortunately, we are at the crossroads in each moment, and the gentle urging is always within us.

The choice is clear.  You can muddle along through life following the voices of conditioning and self-hate as they lead you to more feeling bad, or you can step free from them and be your own person.  You can live from center.”   – Cheri Huber

Metta meditation is a loving-kindness practice that supports our return to center and that center is our own heart.  Each time we come back to our hearts and to the essence of loving-kindness and compassion, we are transforming ourselves.  We are choosing to be in the present moment rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.  We are choosing to live from a heart-centered place, accepting and embracing all of who we are with a genuine “friendliness”.  Moving into this place of greater self-acceptance through gentleness and love is one of the greatest gifts we can ourselves.

Many Tibetan Buddhist teachers, including the Dalai Lama, observe a dynamic in our culture that is not present in Eastern cultures.  Many Americans and others Westerners tend to have a natural lack of loving-kindness and friendliness towards themselves that seems to be inherent in people in other cultures.  In addition to this natural lack of loving-kindness is a tendency toward self-criticism, harshness and even self-hate.  This is a major reason why beginning a practice can be so difficult.  As we begin to sit in meditation, we come face to face with our own inner voices and a critic who tells us we simply can’t do this and additionally, are not worthy of receiving loving-kindness or compassion.  This can be incredibly difficult and challenging, enough so that it often keeps us from getting to our practice.  However, when we are able and willing to be present with these inner voices and difficult feelings, we can begin to transform the patterns and beliefs which keep us stuck in pain and suffering.

Work is a place where our inner critics can tend to rule our realities.  We can have huge demands put on us by our organization, our supervisors and the nature of our work itself.  However, for many people, it is our own inner voices or inner critics that hold us to the highest and frequently, unreasonable standards.  This is a place where we can perpetuate a cycle of self-hatred and continue to create suffering for ourselves.  It is also one of the main reasons why bringing Metta meditation to work can be so transformative.  At the very moment when we would habitually move into a place of harshness or self-criticism, we shift.   Instead, we move into a place of loving-kindness and compassion toward ourselves.  This is one of most powerful changes we can create in our lives; it is truly a paradigm shift.

Today, as we complete Take Your Metta To Work Week, we will return the main focus of our practice to ourselves.  If this is the only piece you continue to work with after this week, know it is incredibly beneficial.  Creating a strong foundation of loving-kindness towards ourselves is the heart of Metta practice.  It is the basis of what we offer to others and the world.  If we can shift our conditioned responses toward ourselves by responding with loving-kindness and compassion, then we are able to become more effective in responding to others with openness and understanding.  This helps to transform all of our relationships, including those at work and in our world.

Daily Practice:  Do your foundational practices.  Find a comfortable position. Imagine yourself in the center of a circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness.  Allow your self to connect deeply with your own heart center.  Be sure to take sometime today to really deepen in knowing your own heart space.  Sometimes, in addition to the circle, it can be helpful to imagine a time your felt held in unconditional love, such as by a grandparent, pet or child.  Spend some time today bathing yourself in the energy and quality of loving-kindness and compassion.  You can do this as a sitting practice or continue to explore it as you go about your day.  Whenever you feel to, offer the Metta phrases for yourself:

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free of suffering.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

Remember to come back to your heart and do your foundational practices several times throughout the day, especially when you are experiencing stress or difficult emotions.  If there is a moment when you recognize you are being harsh with yourself or your inner critic is very active, this is a perfect time to move into your Metta practice.

For your final day, choose what other categories you would like to practice for.  One of the aspects of Metta is that you can create your own practice each day.  Once you begin with your foundational practices and offer Metta for yourself, you can choose to work with any or all of the other categories.  These include Benefactor, Beloved, Neutral, Difficult and All Beings.  All Beings can include all beings, or various groups of beings, such as all women, all children or all animals.  For our practice, we have been working with our organization as this category.  You may wish to complete your exploration of bringing Metta to work by offering Metta for your organization, knowing you are a part of it.  Explore what feels like a good way for you to practice today.

At some point toward the end of the day or evening, consider all of the beings you have practiced for during Take Your Metta To Work Week.  Ask that this practice benefit them as well as all beings.  Ask that your organization and all organizations benefit from this practice and become more heart-centered.  Do this in a way that feels appropriate for you.  It can be incorporated into your own practice of meditation, prayer or reflection.

Journal Notes:  How did it feel to bring your Metta practice to work for a whole week?  Was it helpful to have a meditation practice that you could incorporate into your workday?  Do you feel this is something you would like to continue? Are you more aware of your inner voices or inner critic?  Are you able to respond to these voices with loving-kindness?  Take some time to reflect on your experiences of this week.  Did you notice feeling any different at work as you practiced?  Were there any changes in your attitude or interactions at work?

Take a few moments to honor yourself for your willingness and efforts to be more conscious and heart-centered at work and in the world.

May your day be happy and peaceful.

Day 24 of May is for Metta 2012: Take Your Metta To Work Week, Practicing for a Beloved

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Day 24

Take Your Metta To Work Week

An Exploration in Bringing Loving-kindness Practice to the World of Work

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
If you want to be happy, practice compassion. – H.H. Dalai Lama

One of the things that can affect our ability to focus and stay present at work is when things going on outside of work distract us.  Perhaps one of our children is sick, another one of our family members is struggling with financial difficulties or a good friend is getting divorced.  It can be difficult to stay present in the moment when our thoughts are with someone else.  We wish we could be there for that person but we need to be at work.  Even if we don’t need to be there for them in that moment, our thoughts can move towards them throughout the day often bringing difficult feelings.  Metta practice offers a vehicle to work with our distractions and to offer loving-kindness to this person whom we wish to help.

Today, we will continue our practice of Metta adding the category of Beloved Being, a family member or close friend.  We can choose someone we know who is struggling in some way or someone who pops into our mind throughout our day and brings feelings of concern or worry that takes us from our center.  We can also include in this part of our practice a coworker who is struggling in some way.

Daily Practice:  Do your foundational practices.  Find a comfortable position. Imagine yourself in the center of a circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness.  Connect with your own heart center and begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself:

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free of suffering.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

Even if you did your practice at home, take a few moments as you arrive at work to center yourself in the heart and repeat a round of two or phrases for yourself.  Also, remember to do your foundational practices several times throughout the day, especially when you are experiencing stress or difficult emotions.

Whenever you are ready to practice for your organization, just take a moment to center yourself in your heart, imagine being in your circle of loving beings and offer a round of phrases for yourself.  You might like to include this part of the practice as you arrive at work or when you notice there is tension or stress within your organization, your department or team.  When you feel connected to the energy of loving-kindness, begin to offer Metta for your whole organization or whatever groups you have chosen.  Say to yourself, “Just as I wish to be happy and peaceful, so do all beings within my organization.”  Begin to offer the phrases remembering that you, too, are a part of this organization:

  • May we be happy.
  • May we be peaceful.
  • May we be free of suffering.
  • May we have ease of well-being.

Practice for as long as you feel to or as long as you have time.  Even a few moments are beneficial.  Again, it can be something you do a few times throughout your day or as the need arises.

At some point in your day, explore practicing for a Beloved person.  Remember, this is someone whom you care about, a good friend, family member or coworker.  Do your foundational practices and say, “Just as I wish to be happy and peaceful, so does this being wish to have peace and happiness”.  Begin to offer phrases for your Beloved Being:

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peaceful.
  • May you be free of suffering.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

Practice for as long as you feel to or as long time allows.  As part of our exploration with Metta at work, you might explore working with several Beloveds, practicing as the need arises.  This is a way to help you to continue to cultivate loving-kindness and compassion in yourself and others.  It also helps you to stay present with what is arising within yourself rather than putting your feelings aside.

As always, if at any time you have difficulty staying present or are struggling with difficult feelings, you can return your practice to yourself.  This includes when you are doing the practice or in general when you notice you are struggling in some way and are unable to stay present.  Taking a moment to offer Metta for yourself brings you back into the present moment.  Explore this as you go about your day.  Also, although we did not include it today, you can always practice for a Difficult person as the need arises or you might like to continue practicing for one Difficult person for a period of time to see what’s possible.

At some point in the day or evening, consider all of the beings you have practiced for today and ask that this practice benefit them as well as all beings.  Ask that our organizations benefit from this practice and become more heart centered.  Do this in a way that feels appropriate for you.  It can be incorporated into your own practice of meditation, prayer or reflection.

Journal Notes:  How does it feel to offer Metta for a Beloved who is struggling?   How does it feel to do Metta for your organization?  Did you take some time to return to your heart center and offer Metta to yourself today?  How is your experience of bringing your Metta practice to work going?  Are you noticing any difficult feelings arising? Are you uncovering any negative or limiting beliefs you may be holding?

May you have a beautiful and loving day.

Day 23 of May is for Metta 2012: Take Your Metta To Work Week, Dealing With Difficult People

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Day 23

Take Your Metta To Work Week

An Exploration in Bringing Loving-kindness Practice to the World of Work

“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals.  Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others.  Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” – Pema Chödrön

As I mentioned yesterday, one of the gifts of Metta meditation is that it offers an opportunity to work with our direct experience and allows us to customize our practice to what is arising in our daily lives.  I’d like to share a link to William Berry’s Blog.  He is a member of our virtual sangha or community who is participating in May is for Metta for the second time.  As he did last time, he is using his blog as way to journal his experiences in cultivating loving-kindness and developing his meditation practice.  I was excited to see how he has been working with Take Your Metta To Work Week.  His Metta Meditation Journal for Day 21 is a great example of how one can explore Metta at work and in daily life.  I hope you’ll take some to explore how one of our group is working with May is for Metta.

Today, we will continue our practice of Metta for our organization and ourselves.  In addition, we will add the category of Difficult person, referred to in traditional Buddhist texts as the “Enemy”.  There are clearly varying degrees of difficulty and this is something to explore as part of the practice.  At the most basic level, the Difficult person is someone whom we find it challenging to like or feel friendly towards.  It is someone towards whom we may have varying degrees of negative feelings.  Sometimes, just thinking about this Difficult person causes us to be upset or frustrated.

Working with the category of Difficult person offers us the opportunity to go to a deeper place within ourselves.  Oftentimes, when someone causes a reaction in us, there are feelings and issues we need to resolve within ourselves.   As always, we begin by cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves.  We acknowledge that something is arising within us that is causing discomfort and in a sense, we comfort ourselves with our attention and our compassion.

In the workplace, there are often people and situations that challenge us and cause uncomfortable feelings to arise.  Often, we need to deal with seemingly difficult people and situations but there is nothing we can do to change the fact that we have to relate with them.  This is one of the places we can shut our heart down as we feel there is nothing to do with our feelings but stuff them inside.  By offering Metta, we begin to work with our resistance, which supports having a more open heart and mind.  It also gives us a vehicle for dealing with something that we may feel we have no power to change.  Perhaps we cannot change this outwardly, but we do have the power to create change within ourselves.

As we begin, we recognize that the Difficult person is suffering just as we are suffering.  Even though we struggle with this person, we acknowledge that they deserve to be happy as all beings do.  You may wish to choose someone whom you have struggled with for some time or just notice a situation that arises during the day, such as a frustrating phone call or stressful interaction with a coworker.  In the beginning, it can be helpful to choose someone to work with who you find is only mildly difficult rather than someone who stirs up very strong emotions.  However, if a very difficult situation arises, this can be a good time to explore responding with loving-kindness and compassion.  Remember you can always bring your practice to yourself first.  Once you are in that space of loving-kindness you can explore extending it to the Difficult person or situation.

Daily Practice:  Do your foundational practices.  Find a comfortable position. Imagine yourself in the center of a circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness.  Connect with your own heart center and begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself:

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free of suffering.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

Even if you did your practice at home, take a few moments as you arrive at work to center yourself in the heart and repeat a round of two or phrases for yourself.  Also, remember to do your foundational practices several times throughout the day, especially when you are experiencing stress or difficult emotions.

Whenever you are ready to practice for your organization, just take a moment to center yourself in your heart, imagine being in your circle of loving beings and offer a round of phrases for yourself.  If you notice there is tension or stress within your organization, your department or team, this can be a good time to do your practice.  When you are ready, begin to offer Metta for your whole organization or whatever groups you have chosen.  Say to yourself, “Just as I wish to be happy and peaceful, so do all beings within my organization.”  Begin to offer the phrases remembering that you, too, are a part of this organization:

  • May we be happy.
  • May we be peaceful.
  • May we be free of suffering.
  • May we have ease of well-being.

Practice for as long as you feel to or as long as you have time.  Even a few moments are beneficial.  Again, it can be something you do a few times throughout your day or as the need arises.  Let your heart be your guide.  When you connect more with your heart center and the energies of loving-kindness, you begin to become more responsive to your own needs, your environment and those around you.

At some point in your day, explore practicing for a Difficult person.  Remember, it can be someone whom you often struggle with or someone who has annoyed you or caused difficult emotions for you today.  Do your foundational practices and say, “Just as I wish to be happy and peaceful, so does this being wish to have peace and happiness”.  Begin to offer phrases for your Difficult Person:

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peaceful.
  • May you be free of suffering.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

Practice for as long as you feel to or as long time allows.  As part of our exploration with Metta at work, you might explore working with Difficult people as the need arises.  This is a way to help you to continue to cultivate loving-kindness and compassion in yourself, others and your organization.  One of my clients, who was new to Metta, began to practice for a coworker whom he had struggled with for months.  He was amazed that within a couple of days after offering Metta for this Difficult person, the whole dynamic that existed between them changed for the best.  He no longer felt challenged by this person who had caused him considerable distress for months.  I encourage you to explore what’s possible.

As always, if at any time you have difficulty staying present or are struggling with difficult feelings, you can return your practice to yourself.  This includes when you are doing the practice or in general when you notice you are struggling in some way and are unable to stay present.  Taking a moment to offer Metta for yourself brings you back into the present moment.  Explore this as you go about your day.

At some point in the day or evening, consider all of the beings you have practiced for today and ask that this practice benefit them and all beings.  Ask that our organizations benefit from this practice and become more heart centered.  Do this in a way that feels appropriate for you.  It can be incorporated into your own practice of meditation, prayer or reflection.

Journal Notes:  Are you enjoying your exploration of bringing Metta to work?  How does it feel to do Metta for your organization?  How does it feel to offer Metta for a Difficult Person?  Are you remembering to be gentle and loving with yourself as you practice?  Did you take some time to return to your heart center and offer Metta to yourself today?  How does it feel to consider being more loving and compassionate at work?

May you have a day filled with sunshine and happiness.

Day 22 of May is for Metta: Take Your Metta To Work Week Continues

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Day 22

Take Your Metta To Work Week

An Exploration in Bringing Loving-kindness Practice to the World of Work

 Today we will continue our exploration of bringing our Metta practice with us as we go to work, school or are out in our communities.  Again, although we are participating together in this exploration, this is your personal journey; so make it work for you.  If you work from home or are self-employed, consider using your clients or organizations you are connected to for your practice.  If you are retired, perhaps you volunteer for an organization or are involved in a spiritual community.  If you are an at home parent, consider doing your practice for your family or your children’s school.  One of the gifts of Metta meditation is that it offers an opportunity to work with our direct experience and to customize our practice to what is arising in our lives.

Meditation practice fosters greater awareness and presence in the moment.  When we are working or moving through our day, stresses or situations arise that take us out of our center.  Having a practice that we incorporate into our day-to-day experiences offers a resource for staying more awake and conscious.  It provides a vehicle to work with our thoughts, feelings and emotions as they arise, in the moment, rather than carrying them around with us.  This allows us to bring our whole self into our work, relationships and interactions instead of having a part of us distracted or drifting off somewhere else.  How often do feel you have difficulty focusing at work, at school or at a meeting?

In meditation, each time we return to our anchor, which can be the breath, a mantra or our awareness itself, we become more present. It allows us to bring more of ourselves into our direct experience.  In Metta meditation, the energy of loving-kindness and compassion is our anchor as well as the phrases that we repeat.  This supports moving into a heart-centered place as we go about our day.  In a sense, this softens some of the armor we tend to carry within us and around us as we are out in the world.

Work is somewhere where traditionally our armor has been necessary and difficult to let go of.  Even when we have the desire or work in an organization that is more open, we have been programmed to shut down parts of ourselves at work.  However, when we allow our authentic self to be more available, we have so much more to offer.  We are more present, alert, engaged and responsive. We can move through our workday with greater ease and enjoyment.  This is important for individuals and for the overall experience within an organization.  As each person experiences greater ease of well-being, the dynamics within an organization improve and become more balanced.

We will continue our practice from yesterday by beginning with offering Metta for ourselves as the foundation of our practice.  We will also practice for our whole organization or an aspect of it, such as a department or team.  Today, we will add the category Benefactor/Mentor.  This part of the practice can be integrated into your daily experience, or done as a part of your sitting practice.  Find what works for you.  If you don’t have time to practice in the morning, you can also, take some time in the evening to do your practice and use it to work with what has come up during the day.  Practicing before going to bed offers a vehicle to transform your thoughts and feelings.  Imagine letting go of your stresses and worries so you can have a peaceful night sleep.

Daily Practice:  Do your foundational practices.  Find a comfortable position. Imagine yourself in the center of a circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness.  Connect with your own heart center and begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself:

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free of suffering.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

Even if you did your practice at home, take a few moments as you arrive at work to center yourself in the heart and repeat a round of two or phrases for yourself.  As you go about your day, do this a few times.  If you experience stress or difficult emotions, explore using your foundational practices – imagine your circle of loving beings surrounding you, connect with your heart center or repeat some phrases for yourself for a few moments.  Explore bringing this practice into your day, perhaps a few times and definitely when you are feeling stressed, unable to focus or are having difficult feelings arise.  Coming back to your heart and offering loving-kindness in a moment when you feel frustrated, opens the door to greater self-acceptance.

Whenever you are ready to practice for another person or your organization, just take a moment to center yourself in your heart, imagine being in your circle of loving beings and offer a round of phrases for yourself.  In a sense, this is an abridged foundational practice that we can use when we are taking our Metta to work or daily life.  Even when we have less time to practice, it is important to create that foundation of loving-kindness within ourselves and connect with energy of compassion before we offer it to others.

When practicing for your whole organization, you might like to set a specific time.  It can be part of your daily sitting practice if you have one or you can do it as you arrive at work or even at the end of your day.  Explore what works for you.  If you notice there is tension or stress within the organization, this can be a good time to bring in your practice.  When you are ready, begin to offer Metta for your whole organization or whatever group you have chosen.  Say to yourself, “Just as I wish to be happy and peaceful, so do all beings within my organization.”  Begin to offer the phrases remembering that you, too, are a part of this organization:

  • May we be happy.
  • May we be peaceful.
  • May we be free of suffering.
  • May we have ease of well-being.

Practice for as long as you feel to or as long as you have time.  Even a few moments are beneficial.  Again, it can be something you do a few times throughout your day or when the need arises.

At some point, take some time to practice for a Benefactor/Mentor.  This is someone who has really helped you along your way.  You have very positive feelings for this person.  Perhaps they are someone within your organization who has mentored you, someone from a previous job or a teacher who really taught you a lot.  It can also be more personal, someone in your life who really has supported you, such as a grandparent or parent.  Do your foundational practice and say, “Just as I wish to be happy and peaceful, so do this being wish to have peace and happiness”.  Begin to offer phrases for your Benefactor/Mentor

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peaceful.
  • May you be free of suffering.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

Practice for as long as you feel to or as long as you have time.  As part of our exploration with Metta at work, you might like to consider several people whom you consider Benefactors or Mentors and practice for them.  In a sense, this is a way to express your gratitude on a deeper level.

As always, if at any time you have difficulty staying present or are struggling with difficult feelings, you can return your practice to yourself.  This includes when you are doing the practice or in general when you notice you are struggling in some way and are unable to stay present.  Taking a moment to offer Metta for yourself brings you fully back into the present moment.  Explore this as you go about your day.  If you are practicing for others, when you feel centered in loving-kindness once again, then you are ready to return to offering the phrases for them.

Practice for as long as you feel to or as long as time allows.  As we are bringing more of this practice into our daily experience and you are continuing to return to your heart center in a more active way, you may not need to come back to yourself each time that you practice for others.  This is something to explore and find what feels good to you.  If you are continuing a sitting practice, then take a few moments as you finish to connect with the loving-kindness within your self.

As we are taking our practice into the day, you may wish to wait until evening to take some time to reflect on and dedicate the merit of your practice.  As you do so, you can consider all of the beings you have practiced for today and ask that this practice benefit them and all beings.  Also, ask that our organizations benefit from this practice and become more heart centered.  Do this in a way that feels appropriate for you.  It can be incorporated into your own practice of meditation, prayer or reflection.

Journal Notes:  How does it feel to continue your exploration of bringing Metta to work?  How does it feel to do Metta for your organization?  How does it feel to offer Metta for Benefactor/Mentor?  Did you have difficult feelings or emotions arise during your day?  Did you take some time to return to your heart center and offer Metta?  How does it feel to consider being more loving and compassionate at work?

May you be happy.

May you be peaceful.

May you be free of suffering.

May you have ease of well-being.

Day 21 of May is for Metta 2012: Take Your Metta To Work Week Begins

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Day 21

Take Your Metta To Work Week

An Exploration in Bringing Loving-kindness Practice to the World of Work

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Our intention for the next five days will be to bring our Metta practice more fully into our daily lives.  Although the main focus, for this time, will be to bring Metta into our work life, it can really be explored anywhere  – at work, at school, or in the community.  Feel free to adapt the practice so it works for you.

The relationship between our personal lives and our work lives has often been one of disconnection or separation.  When we go to work, we put on our work persona.  When we come home, we take it off.  Although things are shifting, the process is still slow.  Even when organizations and individuals desire to be more open and heart centered, the transition is difficult as there is really no pattern to follow.

Metta practice offers a way for an individual to stay connected with their heart center and bring more of their authenticity to all of their experiences, including work.  The goal is to allow one’s whole, integrated self to emerge and shine through.  Metta offers organizations an opportunity to cultivate a culture of  openheartedness, mindfulness and acceptance.  Meditation practice also supports greater clarity, clearer focus, improved wellness, reduced stress, increased productivity and enhanced creativity in the workplace.

Basically, bringing Metta meditation practice to work is a win-win situation.  So, whether you are an individual wanting to bring your personal practice more fully into your daily life or you are an organization wanting create change, Take Your Metta To Work Week is for you.

For anyone who is joining in at this time, it may be helpful to read the earlier posts on Exploring Metta and Days 1 – 3 to gain an understanding of the foundational practices.  As we take our Metta to work this week, I encourage you to continue a sitting practice if you have been cultivating one.  However, you can also do the practice at work or on your way to work.  This is an opportunity to bring Metta more fully into daily life and carry our practice to work.  Feel free to “just play” and explore what is best for you.

It is good to begin the day with Metta practice for yourself but you can also do it as you arrive at work as a way to engage your whole self and move into your work from a heart centered place.  This can be both exciting and scary, so as always remember to be gentle and loving with your self.  The greatest gift of bringing Metta to work is continuing to carry your personal practice of Loving-kindness with you wherever you go and allowing your true self to come through in a space where you may have a tendency to constrict your own essence.

Daily Practice:  Do your foundational practices.  Find a comfortable position. Imagine yourself in the center of a circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness.  Connect with your own heart center and begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself:

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free of suffering.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

Even if you did your practice at home, take a few moments as you arrive at work to center yourself in the heart and repeat a round of two or phrases for yourself.  As you go about your day, do this a few times.  If you experience stress or difficult emotions, explore using your foundational practices – imagine your circle of loving beings surrounding you,  connect with your heart center or repeat some phrases for yourself for a few moments.  You will be amazed to see how a moment or two of Metta can change your day.

Sometimes people like to do this periodically throughout the day, in a proactive way.  One of my clients sets an alarm on his cell phone every hour that reminds him to take a moment to cultivate Metta for himself.  This helps him to stay connected to the heart as well as remain centered and grounded.  He finds that this supports his ability to be more focused, balanced and productive throughout the day.

We will explore working with the various categories at work over the next few days.  One of overall intentions of May is for Metta is to support transformation in our world and organizations are an important part of it.  So, I invite you to include a few moments of each day’s practice for your organization.  You can choose the whole organization or if it feels to large, you can work with your department or team.

Remember you can adapt this practice to work, school or community depending on how you spend your day.  The idea is to bring our loving-kindness and compassion to a larger community that we are a part of and that we share a common experience with.  This helps to foster a more compassionate connection within our organizations and communities.  It can also support the alignment of organizational energy and mission.

Check that you are centered in the energy of loving-kindness.  If you need to practice a bit more for yourself, do so.  Then, when you are ready, begin to offer Metta for your whole organization, remembering that an organization is made up of individuals and is also its own energetic entity.  You are offering Metta to everyone and everything that makes up your organization, school, or community.  Say to yourself, “Just as I wish to be happy and peaceful, so do all beings within my organization.”  Begin to offer the phrases remembering that you, too, are a part of this organization:

  • May we be happy.
  • May we be peaceful.
  • May we be free of suffering.
  • May we have ease of well-being.

As always, if your mind wanders, just notice and return to the phrases. Sometimes, working with a larger group is difficult or you may have mixed feelings about some of the people you work with or the organization itself.  Just notice.  This is something to explore.  A part of our practice is noticing where we experience openness and spaciousness and where we experience resistance or constriction.  This is a way of getting to know ourselves more deeply and recognizing how we respond to our experiences in the world.

If you continue to struggle or difficult emotions arise, return your practice to your self until your feel more settled.  When you feel ready, once again offer the phrases for your organization.  If working with your whole organization is too much, or difficult to hold your attention on, then you can switch to a smaller group within the organization.

When you feel ready to move on, enter into your heart center once again.  Connect with the loving-kindness within your self.  Envision yourself in your circle of loving beings.  Do this in whatever way feels good to you. Take a few moments to reflect on your practice.

Dedicate the merit of your practice for all beings.  Consider all of the beings you have practiced for today and offer the merit of your practice for their benefit and also, for all organizations to be more heart centered.  Remember that as you offer up the merit of your practice, you are not giving it away or losing it but you are actually generating more merit through the act of giving.

Journal Notes:  How did it feel to explore bringing Metta to work?  How did it feel to do Metta for your organization?  Did you have difficult feelings or emotions arise during your practice?  If so, spend some time writing about them.  Did you take some time to return to your heart center and offer Metta to yourself throughout the day?  If yes, how did it feel to do so?  If not, why?  Were you too busy?  How does it feel to consider being more loving and compassionate to yourself at work?

May you have a peaceful and joyful day.