About a year ago I signed up for a workshop called like “Mindfulness as a Leadership Practice”. It signaled the “opportunity to learn the practice of mindfulness, the power of being present and open, working with creativity, challenges and fear in a positive and effective way.” Mainly I was draw into the promise of working with uncertainty, complexity and negativity – three things that dominated my work environment, internally and externally. I thought I might walk away with a couple of tools I might use.
The environment was a beautiful retreat space in the middle of downtown Toronto. It was serine, and peaceful. There were meaningful conversations, humour and authentic discussions. I met some wonderful people and heard inspiring stories of people working with change. I’m not sure why I was surprised with something entitled “mindfulness”, but there was also meditation. I didn’t practice meditation. I doubted my brain (or my body) was still for more than 3 minutes at a time. That was about to change.
The leader of the group lead us through our first meditation. I struggled to stay connected to the process, having to tell myself several times that I was “thinking” as the stray thoughts popped constantly into my head. “Thinking” was what we were supposed to say to “shoo” those thoughts away. At the end of 10 minutes my body felt different as if something was released. I thought to myself that I could maybe do that on a daily basis. It wasn’t so bad.
And then we did more meditations. By the end of the day, I think we had done 6 meditations in total. However, the thing about meditation is that it connects your brain into your body. After the third meditation, I knew I did not want to be connected to my body. It was tired, so very tired. And it HURT. There was so much tension and tightness held all over my body that I had been shutting out as my brain and body ignored each other. Meditating brought me into my body and created an awareness of how neglected it had been. I could hardly hold it together to finish the meditations.
Leaving the workshop, I knew something in my life had to change. I started to do a few things differently.