Advertisement

Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

Wisdom Wednesday :: Dismantling the Work-Life Balance Myth

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

In an age when the work week enroaches more and more into the hours of each day and even reaches its hand into weekends, holidays, and vacations the notion arises that we need to have good work-life “balance.” I would like to suggest, however, that work-life balance is a myth, and a dangerous one at that. 

flowers.jpg

The term work-life implies a duality. Work is set against the rest of life. These are now in competition for our precious time and energy. If one wins, the other loses. 
However, life is a unity. Any separations we make are constructions, arbitrary boundaries drawn on the seamless fabric of life. 
An article from the New York Times from last October on integrating Mindfulness in Medicine (How Mindfulness Can Make for Better Doctors) provides this example:

One night during my training, long after all the other doctors had fled the hospital, I found a senior surgeon still on the wards working on a patient note. He was a surgeon with extraordinary skill, a doctor of few words whose folksy quips had become the stuff of department legend. “I’m sorry you’re still stuck here,” I said, walking up to him.

Advertisement

He looked up from the chart. “I’m not working tomorrow, so I’m just fine.”

I had just reviewed the next day’s operating room schedule and knew he had a full day of cases. I began to contradict him, but he held his hand up to stop me.

“Time in the O.R.,” he said with a broad grin, “is not work; it’s play.”

There is no duality for this surgeon, no opposition of forces. Work is play, and thereby presumably joyful.


We spend approximately half of our waking life in the service of work and as suggested above that percentage continues to grow. 

David Whyte in his elegiac volume, The Three Marriages: Reimagining, Work, Self, and Relationship, says

“We are collectively exhausted because of our inability to hold
competing parts of ourselves together in a more integrated way. These hidden
human dynamics of integration are more of a conversation, more of a synthesis
and more of an almost religious and sometimes almost delirious quest for
meaning than a simple attempt at daily ease and contentment. “

In his first book on working life, The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America, he offered this bit of wisdom: 
“Human beings must, in a
sense, always, in order to create meaning, in order to create an ecology of belonging
around them, must bring the central questions of their life into whatever they
are doing most of the time.” 

 Well, that would be work.  


The Buddha threw down the gauntlet challenging us to awaken. To be awake is not part-time or divided. It is always now and in every thing. No separation, no division, no preference. Instead, a stark, beautiful, and breath-taking (and breath-giving) engagement with being alive. 

Our challenge is to be awake on our way to work, while at work, and on our way home from work. Our challenge is strive towards being open, receptive, and truthful with each moment. 

Work is our life in this moment and we’d be best served not to squander it with wanting to be somewhere else. 

This is not to say that work can’t be difficult, miserable, or the wrong-fit for us. Obviously, we need to pay attention to this and make changes if necessary and possible. 

However, these difficulties can be calls to awakening. “How can I transcend myself in this moment?” “How can I get beyond my story of how awful things are?” “How can I find meaning and grace in what is happening now?”


Advertisement

TED Tuesday: Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf: Lose your ego, find your compassion

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak
This is the last installment of the Charter for Compassion talks with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf (the Imam at the center of the controversy over the Islamic Cultural Center near Ground Zero). He gives a brief overview of the Muslim faith in the context of compassion. 
I won’t get into the particulars of that controversy; I’ll only say that I’m fairly certain that many people have spoken from emotions rather than reason, that they haven’t thought through the issues carefully and they haven’t listened to this Imam speak.
So, here he is. He speaks of Rumi to find metaphors for the spiritual path. He speaks of transcending ego and the esoteric aspects of his faith. 

 

Advertisement

Metaphor Monday :: Stop, Drop, & Roll

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

We all learned “Stop, Drop, and Roll” in fire safety.

This mnemonic helps to avert panic and the proliferation of the fire. In fact, when done correctly you can put the fire out limiting its destructive impact. 
In the Buddha’s Fire Sermon, he warned, “Monks, everything is burning.  And what is burning? Monks, the eye is burning, visual consciousness is burning, visible forms are burning…Burning with what? Burning with the fire of desire, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion.”
Our minds could use the same safety approach. We often “burn” ourselves with anguish, anxiety, and stress. We catch on fire, getting engrossed in a story of how someone has wronged us, or how things are not going as we would like. 

Advertisement

The mindfulness version of “Stop, Drop, and Roll” is accomplished through attention. Here it is:

Thumbnail image for BS15014.JPG

Stop the story.
Drop into the body.
Roll with the moment.
Just like that. This metaphoric axiom can help us to avert panic in a pressing situation. Stop, Drop, and Roll can help us to keep the problem from proliferating. 
No story; no proliferation. We can’t be anguished without a story. Of course we need to recognize that we’re engaged with an anguish-producing story; we have to know we are on fire. 
Mindfulness practice will help us to see that we’re on fire. Once we’ve seen that we’re in the story there is a moment where we can stop. With enough discipline we could just stop the story cold. However, it is often helpful to refocus attention on something concrete that is happening now. 
The story will give rise to emotions and emotions will give rise to sensations in the body. That is our concrete now. Drop into the body and notice what is going on. Explore these sensations with interest, curiosity, and perhaps even fascination.
What then? Whatever comes next. We can Roll with the present as it cascades into the future, one moment at a time. 
If we can handle a problem this way, we deal with whatever is most pressing right now. This isn’t a story but a practical approach to the moment. “What does this moment require?” “What’s the best way for me to take care of myself?” Now we’re rolling!

Advertisement

Stress Reduction Sunday :: How To Interupt Cycles Of Stress Overload

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

watchdog-logo.jpg

It’s Stress Reduction Sunday. Read my weekly post in the Connecticut Watchdog, This week’s entry, Mindfulness :: How To Interrupt Cycles of Stress Overload

Advertisement

In previous entries we’ve explored the nature of stress and how paying attention to the present moment through mindfulness can be an effective antidote to stress. Today we’ll explore how lower levels of chronic stress overload might save your life.

Advertisement

Coritsol is one of the chief hormonal products of the stress response. It’s beneficial in short bursts but can be dangerous when chronically elevated. A study in the Journal Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (reported in BBC News) investigated the relationship between elevated levels of cortisol and cardiovascular mortality.

Advertisement

The study focused on 860 individuals over the age of 65 and followed them for six years. 183 people died during the study period. Those with the highest level of cortisol (the top 1/3) had a five-fold increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease but not other causes.

Read More …

Advertisement


Previous Posts

Happy Birthday to His Holiness the Dalai Lama
July 6 will be the 80th birthday of His Holiness (HH) the Dalai Lama. I first encountered the Dalai Lama when he would have been ...

posted 2:06:43pm Jun. 30, 2015 | read full post »

Introverts and Extroverts at the Neuronal Level
Those of you who are familiar with my work know that I have a thing for metaphors. Those of you who have been to my workshops know that I have a thing for the brain. I have been delighted to read Giorgio Ascoli's book, Trees of the Brain, Roots ...

posted 12:11:28pm Jun. 23, 2015 | read full post »

Set Aside Greed and Distress with Reference to the World
The Buddha encouraged his monks to be "ardent, alert, & mindful" and to put "aside greed and distress in reference to the ...

posted 2:29:24pm Jun. 14, 2015 | read full post »

Tame Your Sabotaging Self-Talk Part 2
The second part of my interview with Self-Promotion for Introverts author, Nancy Ancowitz, is now available on her Psychology Today blog or ...

posted 7:34:40am Jun. 08, 2015 | read full post »

Laughter and Awakening
A recent column in Tricycle: The Buddhist Review discussed laughter. It was written by Bodhipaksa and debunks the quote that is attributed to the ...

posted 7:29:06am Jun. 03, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.