“HELP, it’s already the first of MAY DAY!”…..Head space, and how to get some

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“Yoga gives us the capacity to create space: between one action and another, between one breath and another, between one thought and another, allowing emptiness to inundate our minds” – pg 89, Vanda Scaravelli ‘Awakening the Spine’.

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Yoga has gone completely mainstream, with sensible people everywhere chanting ‘OM’ and doing postures on a weekly basis. But did you know that stress, especially in your job, increases your mortality odds by 25%? Perception is everything at work, and unfortunately to be perceived as being important or busy, often equates with being stressed. Is it possible to have a full workload and still thrive at work in a calm, attentive, peaceful manner? Can you be entirely useful to your organisation without also being stressed? When did being stressed at work become acceptable anyway, (Those 80’s shoulder pads have a lot to answer for) and have we finally reached a tipping point? When thanks to technology we can be constantly ‘switched on’ outside of the 9-5, how can we mentally wind down?

As Fiona Wilson, Senior Project Manager from Great Place to Work, Ireland puts it “the continuing advancement of technology forces both employers and employees to look at the issue of work-life balance through a different lens”.

At the Great Place to Work conference in New Orleans, April 2014,  Jeffrey Pfeffer (Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behaviour at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University) stated that long working hours & workplace stress increases the mortality odds of the working population by 25%. (www.greatplacetowork.ie)

While my colleagues were lovely, simply working in a cubicle for 4 years caused symptoms of chronic stress in my body. Aside from being physically constrained for at least a third of my day, and lonely along with it, I somehow managed to equate stress with being busy, and perceived being busy to mean that I was an important person, climbing the career ladder, competing with everyone in my path for position of the organisation’s MVP. I often worked late, yet was still strapped from time to chat to others or eat a proper lunch. I’d get home after 7pm, hungry, irritable, too tired and time-poor to cook, waiting for the weekend to re-organise my life, and blaming work for my poor diet and inactivity. Sound familiar to you?! If so, read on for some valuable tips on how to take a few minutes to stretch your brain and chill out at work, which will give you more time to yourself in the long run…

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www.getsomeheadspace.com is a great website, with FREE 10 minute meditations and an app to help you generate calm, clarity and awareness in your everyday life. Co-founder Andy Puddicombe has this book out, which I have yet to read but the cover looks good!Image

MEDITATION FOR MORE SPACE AT WORK:

To prepare, sit as is comfortable for you. Arms by your sides, backs of your hands resting on your legs, index finger and thumb pressed together, other three fingers are straight. Stretch your neck by bringing your ear towards your shoulder on each side. Then bring your head back to centre, chin towards your chest, crown of your head floating up to the ceiling. Eyes and mouth gently closed. Become aware of where your feet meet the floor. Become aware of your sitting bones on the chair, have the feeling that you are sitting level, weight equally distributed on both sides. Breathe in and lengthen your spine, growing taller up out of your pelvis. Exhale, soften your shoulders, and lift your heart.

Bring your attention to the space in front of the closed eyes. The space where your mind can rest. Now in this space, focus your attention on specific words as you breathe in and breathe out:

“Breathing in, I know I am breathing in.
Breathing out, I know I am breathing out
Breathing in, I see myself as a flower.
Breathing out, I feel fresh.
Breathing in, I see myself as a mountain
Breathing out, I feel solid.
Breathing in, I see myself as still water
Breathing out, I reflect all that is
Breathing in, I see myself as space
Breathing out, I feel free

Breathing in IN
Breathing out, OUT
Breathing in, FLOWER
Breathing out, FRESH
Breathing in, MOUNTAIN
Breathing out, SOLID
Breathing in, STILL WATER
Breathing out, REFLECTING
Breathing in, SPACE
Breathing out, FREE” 

“Breathing in, LIGHT
Breathing out, LIGHT
Breathing in, PEACE
Breathing out, FEELING AT EASE 
Breathing in, FEELING ENERGISED
Breathing out, FEELING CALM”

Again inhaling, long and deep, inhaling PEACE and HARMONY, into every part of your being, from the top of your head down to your toes. Exhale feeling PEACE.

Become aware again of your body sitting on the chair, become aware of where your feet touch the floor. Become aware of your whole body from top to toe. Feeling peace, feeling energised, feeling clam. Stretch the sides your neck, stretch your arms in front and overhead, slowly open your eyes, become aware of where you are.

DO NOT send that email bitching about your colleagues. I repeat, DO NOT SEND THAT EMAIL! (Just kidding, kind of.)

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So next time you’re feeling stressed at work, or just plain fed-up, before you freak out in your cubicle, HALT* and…
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*HALT= “Am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired, all of the above?!” Sound advice from Jimi McDonnell, learnt from his Mum, he of Tradiohead and all-time chilled out, sound person to be around, a credit to herself 😉

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And if, after all this wonderful mediation practice, you still end up on the couch every evening in front of the TV ranting about work to your housemates, remember you’re still perfect exactly as you are…

(human….fallible)

Have a steady, comfortable seat.

OM Shanti Peace, Namaste.