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“Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.”
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, the father of mindfulness, “To let go means to give up coercing, resisting or struggling in exchange for something more powerful and wholesome, which comes out of allowing things to be as they are.” Stress, anxiety, lack of sleep and pressure are part of the workplace. These factors can highly influence employee performance and the overall environment of a company.
Meditation can have an incredible impact in the workplace by providing tools to its employees who are struggling with busy lives, balancing heavy workloads and meeting multiple deadlines. Mindfulness increases clarity and creativity and has a positive effect on processing emotions and creating empathy, as well as the ability to get along with other people. Mindfulness also helps boost the immune system and offers focus that can help people make the right decisions faster and more efficiently.
Imagine you were asked to hold a glass of water absolutely still. In fact, imagine that you’d get whatever you wanted if you held the glass of water perfectly still. You’d probably try very hard and the glass might look quite still, but if you or anyone else looked really carefully at the water, you’d notice the water was still moving.
The harder you tried to hold the glass still, the more you’d shake it as you felt more worried or nervous about being 100% still. The best way for the glass of water to be still would be for you to put it down on a solid surface. Then, the water would stop moving.
Nature has many beautiful examples of letting go. Apple trees need to let go of their fruit so the seeds inside can germinate. Animals need to let go of their young so they can find out how to fend for themselves. Young birds need to not be afraid when they first jump off a branch to begin to fly. You’re always letting go of each breath of air to make room for the next one. This last example shows, in one sense, you naturally know how to let go all the time. Remember this the next time you’re struggling to let go.
According to Graham Williams, a certified management consultant and thought leader, letting go is a vital skill for all people, and leaders in particular. Of course it’s easier said than done. Leaders who can let go of fears and “musts” create space for their teams to shine. They delegate, share power and lead in a collaborative way. Take a look at what you are carrying and what you are holding on to. Put down some of that baggage to free yourself and others around you.
Letting go is the essence of mindfulness. Thoughts, emotions, ideas, opinions, beliefs, emotions and sensations are to be observed, explored and then let go. This can be a difficult part of mindful living. How do you let go?
Imagine you’re holding a tennis ball in your hands. Letting go isn’t something you do. Letting go is about stopping the doing. To let go of something, you stop holding on to it. The first step is to realize you’re holding on to the object in the first place.
If you’re walking around holding a tennis ball, you can’t let go if you don’t know the ball is in your hands. Once you know the ball is there and you feel the tension in your hands, you automatically let go.
Here is a short mindfulness practice on letting go. See what arises for you.
1. Find a comfortable posture. You don’t need to close your eyes if you don’t want to.
2. Notice, right now, the position of your body. Can you feel any physical tension? Which parts feel warm, which ones cold? Does the tension have a shape, a color or a texture? Be aware of what they are. What happens to the tension and tightness as you become aware of them? Do they release or stay there?
3. Become aware of emotions that are touching you at the moment. What happens when you observe them? Get a sense of how strong the emotion is. Don’t try to let go. Putting effort into letting go creates more tension. Instead, become aware of it and allow the emotion to take its course. If the feeling lingers on, can you be okay with that and accept it as it is?
4. At the end of this short meditation, see if you’re willing to let go of anything that you found out—anything you’re now holding on to, trusting you have within you all that needs to be known.
According to author Stephan Bodian, meditation can help you survive the 21st century. Meditation helps you develop inner resilience, balance and strength to roll with the punches and come up with creative solutions.
Try and put aside all other activities, sit quietly and attune yourself to the present moment for a minimum of 10 or 15 minutes each day. Ideally, sit someplace that’s quiet on your own time. You’re developing a whole new set of habitual responses and programming yourself to experience more positive emotions and mind-states. In fact, a growing body of research indicates that meditation alters the brain for the better in significant ways.
Of course, if you find it distasteful to think of yourself as a computer, you can picture life as an ocean, with the constant ups and downs you experience as the waves that churn and roil on the water’s surface. When you meditate, you dive beneath the surface to a quiet place where the water is calmer and more consistent.
Whatever your favorite metaphor, the point is that meditation provides a way of transforming stress and suffering into equanimity and ease.
Following are five reasons, according to positive-thinking author Remez Sasson, why you need to let go at work:
1. Living under stress weakens your physical health, harms the immune system and makes you feel tired and exhausted. You don’t want to harm your health, do you?
2. A remark from your boss or a colleague might wreck your whole day, make you think over and again about the words said and analyze why they were said. These words, inflamed by your thinking and emotions, can create stress, anger and unhappiness. You need to let go; otherwise, you are causing yourself unnecessary suffering.
3. Can you control what an angry or unsatisfied customer says?No, you can’t. But you can control your reaction. You can choose to get angry, resentful and stressed or you can choose not to let their words affect you. You can choose to let go of the incident, learn from it and move on. Or you can dwell on it, inflate it out of any proportion, occupy your mind with it and create anger, stress and suffering.
4. If you do not like your job, will thinking about it help you in any way? If you are going to stay in your job, why continue to create suffering for yourself? Letting go of the negative thoughts about your work will do you good and make you feel better and happier.
5. You didn’t get the promotion you expected, the bonus promised or the cubicle or room you wanted. Did your manager know you wanted that cubicle or you just assumed because you always sat by a certain coworker? Have you thought about a random and quick decision by your boss that you are convinced was intentional and, as a result, you are going to work mad every day?
Overthinking and dwelling about these and similar work issues will take away your peace of mind. Do you want that? You need to let go of all the negative and unhappy thoughts and emotions that arise, even if it’s difficult and you feel agitated. You don’t need them. They are like an anchor that keeps your mind and feelings fixed on the unhappy incident.
Do you want external events to control your life? Do you want to allow other people’s thoughts, words and behavior to decide how you feel? I am sure you don’t. Letting go does not mean giving up. It means letting go, leaving and getting free from negative thoughts and emotions, overthinking and dwelling on what you believe hurt you.
Letting go of what makes you suffer at work requires a certain degree of detachment that could set your mind and emotions free. This is true in all areas of life—not just work. Physiological benefits of mindfulness include:
Psychological benefits include:
For more information or coaching on mindfulness, stress reduction or learning to let go, please call your EAP at (800) 327-4968. You also can explore the USPS EAP website at www.eap4you.com.