It’s been one of those weeks, hasn’t it? That’s okay, you’re about to feel a whole lot better. It’s time to be present.
Sit down at your chair and become aware of how it makes you feel. It puts unnecessary pressure on your lower back, doesn’t it? You’ve emailed HR at least half a dozen times and they’re yet to help you find a different one. Okay, that’s enough focus on the chair.
Turn to your breathing. Zone in on the sound of yourself inhaling and exhaling. If you find this too difficult because the only sound you can hear is your pod partner, David, breathing through his nose, not to worry. Give yourself over to David’s heavy nasal puffs, which he really should get checked out by a professional. Notice the way that, if you try really hard, it almost sounds like a cool sea breeze flowing through the open French doors of your childhood home. Listen to the sound of his snorting while he watches a funny video on Facebook. David’s always on Facebook. Does he do any work?
Stop. You’re getting angry.
Instead of David, let’s open ourselves up to Leigh’s excruciatingly loud phone argument with his wife. Acknowledge how comfortable he feels allowing his pain to be observed by others. It sounds like she’s right in this instance. You definitely know where she’s coming from. Deep breath. Allow yourself to feel their tension all over your body, like an airport massage chair. Slowly but surely, let the tension drop away, just as your hopes of that promotion dropped away when HR began advertising the position without even consulting you.
Let’s switch gears. Your mind, much like the office fridge that can’t fit your modestly sized Tupperware container, is far too full. It’s fine to be aware of all the negative thoughts rushing through your head but don’t allow yourself to absorb them. Ignore your thoughts, just like Brian from Accounts does in meetings.
Why does he bother calling them “all-hands” meetings if he says “Park that thought for a minute” whenever someone dares to speak? Somewhere there is a car park full of brilliant, stationary thoughts, never to be allowed on the road.
Careful, you’re absorbing your thoughts now. Try to imagine them simply stopping, like the printer did this morning. It’s not really your job to print things out anyway, is it? It’s probably just a job that Sarah delegates to make you feel insignificant.
All right, how about you try to reconnect with your body instead. Pay attention to your hands. Feel how still they are at this moment. They are like the surface of an undisturbed lake, almost as if your fists are never going to leave that tightly clenched position. Notice them clench even tighter upon hearing your phone’s alarm beep, signifying that the five minutes of your lunch break you’ve allocated to this mindfulness meditation has ended.
Now return to your work, in a state of deep relaxation.
Illustration by Steven Moore