Untying the knots
The other day, one of my close friends wrote to me in a mild panic. She was caught up in a flurry of office politics, with people forging their own intentions over another, stories fabricated and fuelled to appear bigger, stronger, and more competent in the eyes of their boss.
To an outsider, it is always difficult to dispense advise without qualifying that anything you say may or may not be fully helpful - after all, you are not in their shoes, you're not in the sum of their experience, and you don't have full purview over people's intentions.
However, there is an active aspect of merely listening. And trying to find a moment of solitude in the midst of the madness.
I realise that the ritual of simply airing out grievances is potent and powerful. And can be transformative.
And this is where mindfulness can come in. Mindfulness teaches us to gather our collective thoughts, to find temporary reprieve and pause. This pause is what mindfulness is all about.
The pause will allow you to realise things that you probably didn't realise before. That other people are merely exactly like you - driven, and they want to do their best, and they're just a product of all these motivations in doing the work better.
You also notice the fact that this is all temporary, that in the bigger scheme of things, these things won't matter in 10 years, and that we will (eventually) go through this, stronger, leaner, and hopefully having learned something new out of it.
Within the pause, you also notice that you have no control over other people's feelings and their actions. You soon realise thereafter, that you can only control your own reactions to it. You realise within this pause, that there's a liberating realisation of choice : You can reclaim your choice to act with grace. And this is the first step to realising that you, too, are powerful, because nobody can take that choice away from you - No matter how dire the circumstance is.
It is needless to say that these realisations helped reframe her perspective. She was so focused on the issue at hand, that she didn't notice that her stresses were part of a bigger picture. Slowly, her spirits lifted and I wished her well in her journey.
Life will always throw us curveballs. It is up to us to manage it - figure out the situation, empathise with people we meet along the way, and ultimately find clarity in the puddle.
There's a great parallel that Jon Kabat Zinn has mentioned in his meditations : That humans are similar to deep bodies of water, prone to a lot of turbulence and rapture above, but the same body of water is also capable of calm and stillness, deep down in it's core. There can be sand and debris that muddle the water, but after a while, the water settles and is transformed with the vessel.
I thought that this little anecdote is timely :-)