Last month I wrote about using pranayama (breath extension) to calm yourself and prepare yourself for dealing with difficult people in the office. Slow steady breathing really works, it calms our central nervous system and give us a chance to think before we react. I hope that you tried it. I use the breathing exercises all the time; I use them to keep myself focused when I have deadlines to meet, to stay calm when anxietypops up, and to quiet the sometimes crazy thoughts in my mind.
This month I would like to back track a bit and suggest that dealing with difficult people in the office could start when you wake up. Many people wake up, tense, stressed, dreading the day ahead. Stressors could include the drive to the office in heavy traffic, the line up at Tim Horton’s, dropping children off at school and daycare, a busy day meeting deadlines which seem to be hindered by difficult people, and unreasonable demands placed on us by management. Our mind tells us that If only people would change and be the way we want them to be, our jobs would be so much better. But people are not going to change unless they want to , experience spiritual discomfort, or perhaps are forced into change by management. So accepting people the way they are is part of our own journey. In fact until we learn this important lesson we may just end up stuck in the hamster well of what I call “the same”, the same people, the same feelings, the same anger, the same lack of control.
The beginnings of the answer to these feelings are to create your own personal sadhana. Wikipedia describes the term ” sādhanā” as “spiritual exertion towards an intended goal”. The goal of our sadhana is to start our day with some sort of spiritual practice that will set our intentions for the day and create positive energy and thoughts. This could include journaling, meditation, prayer, yoga, a quiet walk or run, or reading from a daily meditation book. We could also begin by breathing slowly and allowing ourselves to visualize our day going well. We can imagine ourselves dealing with people better and not letting them affect us. My stepfather used to tell me to visualize myself surrounded by a white light that negative energy from others couldn’t penetrate.
By doing this, I begin my day in a positive way with the intention of being a good person, striving for better reactions and living with more compassion. It’s hard, I know, and some days we blow it as soon as we walk into the office, but we can always restart or day by taking a few quiet moments. At times our greatest freedom will come from understanding that most people have no idea they are being difficult they are reacting from their perspective and from a point of view formed from their personal life experiences. In the end it may not be about us at all.
You may be thinking Sheree, I don’t have time for a sadhana, I have kids, a job, a commute etc…but in reality it doesn’t have to be an hour of epic mediation and prayer it can be just 10 to 15 minutes, first thing, in the morning. Just get up 15 minutes earlier, find a quiet place, breath, read, meditate while the coffee is brewing and see how your life starts to change. I too had kids, a commute and a stressful job, but I found just a little bit of time each morning helped me to centre myself and ultimately focus on important things, such as patience, compassion, better understanding and letting go of control.
One of my favorite readings is the St. Francis Prayer, here is an excerpt from it that I have memorized and use as a silent mantra when dealing with difficult situations.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;