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Real Happiness at Work: Day 3

What a gift to work with Real Happiness at Work! I'm an eager participant in these blogs, every year. And not because I'm so good at it, either--rather, I'm happy just to ground myself every time, around this time of year, with these practices.

I remember receiving a request--or a few of them--for stories that might be used in this book. And I put off, and delayed, and postponed, and procrastinated, and now I have regret. Remorse and regret. Because I have used the meditation techniques in the first Real Happiness book, and now in the first chapter here, again and again in my workplace, and I live in profound gratitude for them. It hasn't made my life in publishing a bed of roses, or a garden of delight, or a bowl of cherries, or a walk in the park, or any of those clichés, not by a long shot, but meditation has helped me help my clients, my coworkers, and me work more productively and less harmfully with one another for years.

I remember when I first started meditating, I was working with the type of meditation Sharon decribes on p 38 of the paperback of Real Happiness at Work, "Core Meditation: Emotions." It involves "mental labeling, which means naming the feeling or thought that's arising in the present moment, serv[ing] two main purposes: First it establishes a sphere of awareness, a small, calm interior space where we aren't caught up in a thought or feeling, aren't reacting to it, but are able discern it, name it, and move on." I was, frankly, getting a little ahead of myself with that one.

Something had happened in an interaction with a client, something that stirred up rage, shame, self-loathing, perfectionism--a nice little stew of bubbling emotions. As I tried mental labeling, I realized I was NOT in a "small, calm, interior space." I wanted to break something. I was blind with rage. I went to the Dumpster by the elevator, saw a piece of discarded plastic something-or-other, and proceeded to break it to pieces. As I did that, I was at least able to observe my ragged breathing and pounding heartbeat. And breaking down that poor plastic file thingie didn't relax me, or release anything. Instead, it felt like I was spinning the wheel of crazy-anger-suffering faster and faster. Whew!

I went back to my desk, and sat to observe my breathing. And I realized I was in no state to respond to anything. I literally turned off my email and sat there, breathing, for at least five minutes, feeling the hot tension in my throat, the tight band around my chest, the pounding between my eyes. In the cooler glow of awareness, they finally slowed and faded. 

In the years since, I've seen it become more natural for me to react with breathing, labeling, forgiving, observing, moving on. Sharon's been right: a morning meditation practice makes it easier for me to do short on-the-spot meditations when storms of crap blow up during the day, as they will do and have forever done. On page 13, Sharon writes: "Meditation trains the mind the way physical exercise trains the body." It's true. So true. And so I'm looking forward to training, and re-training, and training again this month. Starting from the beginning, again, with Balance.

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