Friday, October 30, 2009
I've long suspected that any iconographic element that exists on one culture must exist in every culture. Halloween upon us, Corporate Yogis, I'm looking for that all-is-one connection in this literal meaning behind this weekend's festivities.
The notion of remembering that we all die and that we are literally here to experience life UNTIL we die is particularly salient for many of us this year. In the midst of survival concerns, the challenge of remaining connected to life, to this moment, this breath in, that breath out, no matter what our external situation has sometimes given way instead to connecting to concerns about our external situation. The triggers for survival fears have seemed ubiquitous, popping up in our work, home life, health, the environment, political change, and world power struggles.
Having spent a bunch of time in Latin America, I've admired how Latin cultures embrace the concept of the circle of life, of continuity of connection, and of remembering the old adage "dust to dust. In Buddhist countries you'll often see the lifeline of the buddha expresed as a progression from baby to corpse decay, or the inevitability of death expressed in the beautiful mandala sand drawings painstakingly created and destroyed in an instant. And in yoga we recognize the impermanence of all our earth-bound concerns by practicing Savasana, literally corpse pose, at the end of every practice.
While sussing out what I want my hallow'een observation to be, I'm going back to these roots. Much like the wisdom paths we study, I want to face my deepest earthbound fears, tangle with the trappings of my ego, and see if I can't live through my worst imagination tomorrow night.
Having long ago befriended my inner sexy nurse, this means I'm going to have to set aside the fishnet stockings and reach a little deeper into my closet. Summoning the inner demons of failure, shame, poverty, homelessness, ugliness, aging and imperfection - I know I'll be facing the monsters that really keep me up at night.
I'm not sure how I'll bring it all together visually, but you know, in donning this costume, I'm honoring the worthiness, abundance, beauty, perfection and lifeforce within all of us no matter external circumstances.
Scared? Yes. But expressing these fears will make this the scariest and most liberating Halloween ever.
Monday, October 19, 2009
My brilliant counterpart of Balance Integration in Latin America, Clara Hori, sent me this a few weeks ago. I finally got around to watching it this morning and wow - did it resonate. In addition to the video embedded above, you can see seven more snapshots of Microsoft at work (and in childcare) at http://vimeo.com/channels/microsoftbabies , and I highly recommend you do so.
As a GenX-er and latchkey kid, I totally related to the little ones in daycare. As a corporate executive and yogi, I related to the struggles of the employees and found myself in a state of compassion with each and every one of them. As an observer of work culture, no doubt you will also recognize many of the themes and messages highlighted by the creator of the series.
Having just posted on my other blog, LifeWorks at WebMD another weekly installment about the importance of loving your job no matter what it is, these films reminded me that no matter where we go or what we do, there will be challenges each of us being tested in ways we may not immediately recognize. While many parents dream of having company sponsored childcare, no sooner was it established than for some was the question raised: will this impact how my child learns? Will my child become part of the corporate machine even sooner?
Relating so completely to every human appearing in this series, it reminded me that there are no easy answers indeed. Ironically, it is in the segment about one Microsoft man's depression that I find a glimmer of hope in his apt reminder about staying connected with ourselves. At one point he learned that being profoundly unhappy was simply depression and that his remedy is to make sure to take time out for himself, to connect and simply be with himself. Amen. Om. Inshallah. We all need a bit more of that.
Enjoy and let me know your thoughts.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
I did it. Today.
No, despite being in NYC and bucking the stereotype immortalized in Lou Reed's song, my walk didn't involve plucking my eyebrows or shifts in gender. My walk was the amazing, life-affirming, irrational choice to walk through the park to get home rather than catching a cab or subway after teaching this morning.
Some of you are experts at this. The concept of choosing leisure over efficiency, pleasure over productivity, and active choice over programmatic habit isn't a foreign one. Maybe you're one of the people who have normalized the atavistic function of connecting to ones-self, indulging in the generosity of this amazing planet, or making decisions based on what really serves your highest good. Or maybe not.
Either way, it was a moment of reconnecting to my own wild soul. Wandering the sinewy paths of Central Park, I followed and found my heart. Listening actively with each step I asked my heart what it wanted, which way to point my feet. The still-green of trees were a healing sight for monitor-wearied eyes. The white elk with amputated branches, thriving no less, was a powerful teacher. Weeping in that quiet will-o-the-whisp "will this deepen or will it go away" kind of way, I gave myself more than an hour of asking what felt good, what made me happy exactly in that moment.
Jazz to tin pan, dog walkers to kiddie fitness, I was reminded that sunrise to sunset, behind of the clouds of my worries life persists in all its beauty. If you haven't taken a walk lately, me and a couple billion people on the planet wish you would.
Monday, October 5, 2009
The US Department of Labor just announced huge gains in productivity despite what most employees and HR folks would agree is an unprecedented dip in corporate morale. That said, it's unlikely most companies are going to dig too deep in generating employee perks to put smiles back on our faces. With statistics showing rebound attrition to be a multiplier of 3x however many folks might have been laid off, it's unfortunate. No matter. Whether you're an HR person struggling to find low cost ways to rally the troops or a troop looking to rally yourself, check these ideas out:
1. Leadership Book Club - start a book club focusing on passion for work, leadership skills, etc. Meet once a month at lunch then go to someone or several senior someones who "get it" and ask them to commit to reviewing a chapter each month. Then send the word out establishing time/place - start with a hot new book, then begin to take suggestions as the club gets going.
2. Service Rocks! - look around your community for local fundraising activities that may be relevant to you and your coworkers - the American Diabetes Association Heart Association and Susan Komen all have fall activities around the country or you could pick something in support of a local organization. Ask coworkers to form a team with you for both fundraising and "training purposes". If it's a walk, do a weekly powerwalk together at lunch. If it's a ride or run, commit to weekly training goals.
3. Everyday Heroes - don't wait for HR to create a speaker series with high paid talking heads. Look around your community for people making a difference - the local papers are full of little snippets about folks from highschoolers to service workers whose contributions are somehow significant. Ask them to come in for a little informal brownbag and hear what they have to say - be prepared and think through some questions to ask them about how they came to do what they do and what inspires them. As you moderate know that this will be much more conversational than the usual "sponsored" event and potentially much more real and inspiring.
4. Desk Stretch Yourself - some workplaces block media transmittals over the internet, but you can go into YouTube and get instructions on how to record posted media files. Then burn a couple focusing on stress management through breath, stretching and meditation and bring them to work, putting a time each day on your calendar for you to revive and renew.
5. Potlunch - have a monthly lunch potluck for your group or others you work with. Eating together is primal and establishes our humanity in a very grounding way. If you give it an ethnic or other theme (TV shows, food from the 70s, etc.), you might help people with their planning and provide a natural non-work topic of conversation giving opportunity for people to learn about eachother.
6. Personal Passion Injection - chances are there is something you are passionate about that could make a difference at work. One woman I know is an office manager who noticed how many office supplies were thrown away each month so created a recycling table for employees to go to FIRST before going to the supply closet. Another friend decided to start a "worklife phone/email tree" helping eachother be mindful of eating lunch, leaving at a reasonable hour, drink enough water, and take a stretch from time to time. Whatever you most need/love, chances are others could benefit from it, too.
Got ideas? Practice engaging yourself by posting them here! I'll circulate them to my various communities spreading the creativity around a bit!