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Practicing Mindfulness - On the Cushion, In the Conference Room

I begin by setting an intention: PURE bliss.

Okay, that may be asking a bit much for a 10-minute morning meditation routine. But I’m on a roll; I’m sticking to my commitment on this yoga training path. And, after three weeks, I'm seeing (and feeling) changes – calmness, focus, insights, interesting questions arising:

How do I bring this transformative practice to my consulting and coaching clients? How do I not?

It hasn’t been easy, I’ll admit. This morning (as each and every), I feel myself resist, longing to hop on the computer and get my business going, justifying that I meditated with three-part conscious breaths as I skinned and sliced my breakfast papaya, and that surely counted.

Haha, nice try, I have to laugh at myself. I know that skipping a day leads to other skipped days, and the whole thing falls apart.

We all know how we stop ourselves.

I’ve been battling writing this blog post for a week.

I want to get it right, want my words to be poignant and creative, fluid and accurate; so I edit and re-edit as I doubt: Will anyone really read this?

These are the Kleshes – obstacles or afflictions that get in my way. Laid-out in the Yoga Sutras*, the ancient guiding text of the 8-fold yoga path, they include: Avidya (ignorance), Asmita (egoism), Raga (attachment), Dvesa (aversion or hatred), and Abinivesah (fear of rejection and death).

My beloved graduate school professor, the late, great Charlie Seashore, called it the Psychic Prison. He wasn’t a yogi. But as an expert in human and group dynamics, he knew how one got trapped behind one’s own bars.

In the field of organization development, we are in the business of helping others break free. First and foremost, we have to help ourselves.

So I pull myself away from the kitchen sink and plop myself down on the cushion.

Ahh, it actually does feel good to let my sits bones sink down, my eyes shut and my mind go quiet. I notice: after 20 straight days of this, I’m beginning to feel at home in this place.

I set a simple intention: to be present and have good posture.

But within minutes, more like seconds, my mind’s gone straight to my to-do list, and the things I’ve got waiting for me as soon as I am done with my ten minutes of bliss.

Mind wandering is a fact of life, I know. But darnit, come back!

I’ve gotten past the lonely emotions that were bubbling up around Thanksgiving, thank goodness; but I notice my mind is racing ahead to Christmas and worries about falling into another pit of holiday despair.

I catch myself composing email invites to an Xmas Eve gathering, contemplating logistics for a trip to Louisiana to dance myself through the holidays, perhaps a ticket to Austin to visit my brother, or the simple, no-fault, no rejection backup: a sojourn to Chincoteague where I can be with the sea.

All of this unfolds in a matter of seconds – the mind is an amazing thing.

Stop! I catch myself in mid-swirl.

Okay, I’ve been learning how to refocus the attention with kindness. This is the key. Rather than reprimands, I deserve a little gentleness. This is not easy for me: Here, here, dear, back to the breath.

I notice I’ve schlumped. Straightening my spine, sliding my shoulder blades down my back (I will do this re-positioning five more times before my time is up), I begin again.

Inhaling, exhaling can be so simple and sweet.

I settle deeper into my seat.

In the stillness, ideas percolate – I watch them like skywriting in my mind – not grasping but seeing, hoping, secretly, I don’t forget them.

I end with an aloud Ohm – my morning voice cracking – first sound of the day.

When my eyes blink open, the baby blue sky out my living room windows almost startles me, a slight smile spreading on my lips.

So the day begins.

I bow, rising up off the cushion, and reach for my notebook.

  • What if I could be so present and intentional with my clients?

  • What if I started my trainings and strategy sessions and retreats with five minutes of meditation, each participant setting a personal intention?

  • How might those individual intentions co-mingle into a collective wish and change the whole game for the group?

I already know the answers.

*For a beautifully-written and accessible take of the Yoga Sutras, read The Living Sutras, co-authored by Kelly DiNardo, owner of Past Tense Studio in Mount Pleasant, DC.


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