Recently several people at work – on the seventh floor of a nondescript building somewhere in a large East coast metropolis – got together to brainstorm. They’re assistants and program coordinators, and what they’re thinking about is bringing all of us together to discuss work strategies, share knowledge, software shortcuts and tips, that kind of thing. We all work for different programs—undergrad, graduate and so on – but the work we do is very similar. In addition some of us haven’t been here as long as others who understand some of the inner workings of the department overall and could shed some light on processes and policies that, to someone still fairly new (like moi) are still a bit opaque.
I was in on the original discussion, sharing experiences, etc. with a couple of the other staff and the subject of work-related stress came up. I mentioned that I’d been reading a book on Zen techniques as they relate to stress and anxiety. On my iPod I also have a short talk by the late abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery near Woodstock NY, John Daido Loori. In it, he discusses the power of concentration, stopping your mind from wandering into the past or the future, taking a deep breath, concentrating on the task at hand in this moment. I was quick to add that I am far from a student of Buddhism, I meditate sporadically and once in a while I take a yoga class. Nevertheless I find some of this helpful in keeping me centered when things get particularly crazy at work.
So the lead organizer put together a preliminary agenda for our first meeting and one of the topics is “Finding Your Calm” with yours truly as discussion leader.
Me. Someone who loses it if the toast burns. I’ve hurt my hand pounding the desk because my computer was acting up. And many mornings I wake up with that free-floating anxiety about the day ahead, generally unfounded, which dissipates as soon as I look around the apartment, take stock of how blessed I’ve been, feed the fish and hear the cuckoo clock strike the half-hour.
But “Finding Your Calm”? Wonders never cease.
Addendum to my previous post: interesting…
At least eight dictators have been invited to the royal wedding. Several represent governments currently oppressing democracy protestors in the Arab world—notably, the crown prince of Bahrain, Sheikh Ahmed al-Hamoud al-Sabah of Kuwait, Princess Lalla Salma of Morocco, Sayyid Haitham bin Tariq Al Said of Oman, the emir of Qatar, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, and, last but not least, Prince Mohammed bin Nawwaf bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia, according to the Human Rights Foundation.
The British royal family has been harshly criticized by international media for extending invitations to these despots, who continue to play leading roles in dictatorships that commit severe human rights violations against their people.
HRF is an international nonpartisan organization devoted to defending human rights in the Americas. It centers its work on the twin concepts of freedom of self-determination and freedom from tyranny. These ideals include the belief that all human beings have the rights to speak freely, to associate with those of like mind, and to leave and enter their countries. Individuals in a free society must be accorded equal treatment and due process under law, and must have the opportunity to participate in the governments of their countries; HRF’s ideals likewise find expression in the conviction that all human beings have the right to be free from arbitrary detainment or exile and from interference and coercion in matters of conscience. HRF does not support nor condone violence. HRF’s International Council includes former prisoners of conscience Vladimir Bukovsky, Palden Gyatso, Václav Havel, Mutabar Tadjibaeva, Ramón J. Velásquez, Elie Wiesel, and Harry Wu.