Funemployment and Mindfulness in the Corporate World
For the past 4 weeks, I have been “funemployed,” in between the end of working at one company and the beginning of another (but I did continue to teach yoga). Quite frankly, the time has slipped by so quickly and quietly and it doesn't seem fair. It felt like I had no control over my schedule or productivity, which can be liberating while also terrifying for a perpetual planner like myself (more on this later). This was the extended time off without traveling anywhere that I always DREAMED about when I was working full-time! I had all these grand plans of doing those special middle-of-the-workday-in-NYC things that I wanted to do: wander around an empty Central Park, go to the beach alone, explore museums without the crowds, etc. However, the energizer bunny in me kept scheduling yoga classes and running errands… which is basically what I do every weekend. What was supposed to be a month-long exploration of new neighborhoods and journey into self-reflection became an extended weekend. :(
After Week 3, I felt so frustrated that I wasn't living this crazy, out-of-the-ordinary lifestyle, because I knew that once my new job started, I wouldn't have the luxury of ample free time. I thought I had to schedule all the fun in, so I did. I scheduled my last week hour-by-hour with all the things I wanted to do. And guess what... I didn't stick to it. Things came up or weather became an obstacle or I just didn't feel like sticking to the plan. Foiled again!
This morning I finally had a free chunk of day to reflect. I woke up early, did some yoga & meditation, prepared for the class I'm teaching this weekend, ate a leisurely breakfast, and sat on the couch to journal. After all the turmoil of not "taking advantage of my time off" that I felt mid-way through my month, I realized not all was lost. Here's a snip it of what I wrote about my funemployment:
- I feel culturally enriched.
- I feel well-rested and full of love from my friends.
- I enjoyed lingering, staying out late, and getting lost on my way to each appointment.
- I am so grateful that I had this time, and I am genuinely excited for the next adventure.
- I plan to keep this excitement and exploration, even as I start my new job. This is only the beginning of a fun-filled summer!
All of that flowed out of me, not a single negative feeling about the situation. I was shocked that my frustration about not maximizing all my opportunities had finally dissipated. I AM SO GRATEFUL. What a beautiful life to live.
Separately, I wrote the following article for the Area Journal, a monthly newsletter for the Area Yoga studio community. Unrelated to my funemployment musings, but I just wanted to share. See, I did write in my absence... just not on this website! :)
Mindfulness in the Corporate World
For the "Area Journal"
While sitting in a small “Meditation for Entrepreneurs” session, a young man remarked: “I don’t feel stressed. Do I still need meditation?”
I was taken aback by this. "Of course, we all need meditation!" I thought. This was unfathomable to me that he did not understand how important meditation was. I realize that the "work hard, play hard" action-oriented ethos dominates the lives of many workers in corporate America. But still, I was surprised. Being deeply entrenched in the wellness community often makes me forget that most people aren't as exposed to meditation and its benefits on a regular basis as I am. Most full-time jobs don’t allow ample time or space for wellness and self-care. Often, self-care endeavors in the workplace take a back seat to the urgency of work deadlines and meetings.
New Yorkers are among the worst when it comes to self-care. Americans, in general, are notoriously overworked. We spend more time working than most other countries, and while this may be something to be grateful for and even proud of, it is a reality that should make us pause. Being overworked can decrease productivity and create unhappy employees. This is where mindfulness can play a pivotal role. Mindfulness has been shown to increase emotional intelligence and enhance equanimity. Both of these traits help us work better together with each other, and when employees work well together, everyone benefits. Employees who practice mindfulness can enjoy the decreased stress levels, improved employee engagement, and mental clarity. All these can contribute to increased productivity.
Living in the Western world has acclimatized us to high levels of stress: the constant bombardment noise walking down the street, the unfriendly folks we encounter daily, the non-stop hustling at work, the pressure to put up with “friendly” competition. We normalize this culture of stress that we live in as our bodies adapt to constantly elevated stress levels. Mindfulness and meditation can alleviate these psychological strains and potentially make us better employees in the corporate setting.
Perhaps you may think meditation is too daunting: How does one SIT for so long and STOP all their thoughts? Many people think that meditation can only be done by sitting in complete silence and controlling all thoughts. Mindfulness is an easy transition to begin your awareness of the present moment and focus your monkey brain.
For those with corporate jobs, mindfulness is important to disconnect from all the to-do lists and ideas and focus on the present moment. We begin to focus on the task at hand and make more informed and more mindful decisions. Speaking with corporate junkies who practice mindfulness or meditation, I have also seen their attitudes at work change and a calmness around the way they handle conflict.
Earlier this year, I completed my 25-hour corporate mindfulness teacher training through MINDFRESH. I teach people techniques to build a modern mindfulness practice in a corporate setting. Employees leave the session feeling refreshed and ready to conquer the work day! By bringing simple movements, breathwork, and meditation to the workplace, employees can practice mindfulness throughout the day, weaving their spiritual practice with their corporate prowess. Practicing what I preach and teach has transformed my outlook on life, the way I tackle problems at work, and helped me in living a more fulfilling life.