Thursday, February 08, 2007

Sitting Mindfully

"My name is Barbara and I've been pissed at someone at work for some time now. I hope I can just forget about this as I concentrate on my breath for the next hour." Sound like some weird spin-off of an AA meeting? That was my check-in at meditation last night.

On Monday as I sat in a teleconferenced meeting with around 30 people, I actually asked this woman to quit rolling her eyes every time I opened my mouth to speak. The people in Indiana who were participating in the meeting wanted to know what sort of fight they should be gearing up for! We seem to have become no better than the siblings who sit in the back of the van and bicker.

This person refuses to return my phone calls, doesn't answer my e-mail messages, and yesterday chose to boycott a meeting called by my boss in which I was participating. Part of the meeting was devoted to discussing the deplorable lack of communication. Everyone around the table admitted to having been the target of her abuse, but it seems no one in authority has ever advised her that it is OK to disagree with other persons, but not acceptable to professionally disrespect them. I suggested that we get a mediator involved to try to resolve this issue for once and for all, or at least to make it a little more palatable.

So that was the baggage I brought to meditation. I was the "anchor" last night, meaning that I sounded the bell that opened and ended our silent sit, and I read the short piece entitled "Posture" from Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Little did I know how perfect the message would be for me. Among other things he says,

Mindful sitting meditation is not an attempt to escape from problems or difficulties in some cut-off "meditative" state of absorption or denial. On the contrary, it is a willingness to go nose to nose with pain, confusion, and loss, if that is what is dominating the present moment, and to stay with the observing over a sustained period of time, beyond thinking. You seek understanding simply through bearing the situation in mind, along with your breath, as you maintain the sitting posture.

It would definitely have benefitted me more to receive this advice prior to my sit last night. But, I have this funny feeling that I may bring the same problem to next week's sit. It just doesn't show any signs of improving.


Blogger Kate said...

Given how reluctant the "powers that be" are to resolve this issue, I hope they act on your suggestion for a mediator. Even knowing that you are not her sole target for abuse appears to have little solace.

She must be in a lot of pain that she seems to be directing at others. I would think the healthiest thing for your work environment would be a mediation setting.

Here's hoping those who make such decisions will see the wisdom in your suggestion.


4:52 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kate -- I don't think the mediation is going to happen. My boss said she cannot push it since the other person is not in her chain of command.

10:08 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Hey. Sorry. My word verification wouldn't show me the word. :(

Over the past several months or even years, I've tried to follow the proper channels, to work with individuals, to work with management, to work on my own style of communication. The funny thing is that the more responsibility I take, the more blame I'm assigned.

I've been working on letting go, not worrying about it. It's really hard.

10:28 PM  
Anonymous David said...

I think Kate is really on to something. She must be a very unhappy person.

11:13 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

It's interesting that you write about this just after I've read an article about why humans have such difficulty changing (go here to read it if you like: Is there any way you could reframe whatever it is you're disagreeing about so as to allow her to begin thinking in another direction?

6:38 AM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

I have some ideas I'll pass on to you tomorrow - little tricks I learned as a witch. Heheheheheh ...

No hexxing, I promise.

8:49 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- You are right about more responsibility inviting more problems. I'm actually pretty good at leaving work in the office, but I haven't mastered leaving hurt feelings there.

David -- You know this person. In fact, if you recall, about 25 years ago you actually worked for her editing technical computer books. Did she always treat you with respect?

Pauline -- A very interesting article indeed. I think most people resist change as long as they can get away with it.

Reya -- I can't wait to hear what you have to say. I love trade secrets!

12:05 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

It certainly seems as if it's at the point where you need some sort of facilitator. Hope it happens so you don't have a sour taste in your mouth when you retire.

6:25 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

MOI -- I couldn't agree more. I thought of just ducking out now, but for that very reason I'd rather wait.

7:57 AM  
Blogger steve said...

That sounds like an interesting book. I love the title. I used to say about myself that 'Whenever he's gone,I'm still here".
The lady I work with is very competent and meticulous and I admire her a lot for that. Me, I am not so much, but I have a way of finding direct and simple solutions. When we start going round and things get tense, I start being Mr. Positive, the can do guy. i just refuse to walk on the eggshells and almost go over the top being congenial. It takes a day or two, but at some point I am able to look her right in the eye and say"Have i told you lately how much I like working with you?"
It signals the end of whatever the issue may have been and always gets a smile from her, especially if the issue is still a little unresolved. I really do like working with Rachel.

4:08 PM  
Blogger Old Lady said...

Now from the other side. You remember that hockey game you went to? Ask one of the players if you can borrow his stick....

Now, I really wouldn't do that. She is puposely antagonizing you and trying to draw attention to herself. Passive Aggressive. Document everything, dates and times. That will be your ammo for the intervention/mediation.

It is ok to dislike her. You do not have to like everyone you work with. She is probably a trouble maker but has a high G status and can't be fired. People probably change her billet to get rid of her and you all got dumped on. Take it from the view point that she will never change and ignore her. People like this are a pain in the ass in the office, but for some reason other people are validating her power. It would be good to find out why, if you can do so discreetly. If your boss won't tell you the truth(which is what I think is happening)it will eventually sift to you. Angry people can be like this, but she is an adult and needs to come to terms with her job.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Steve -- You sound so easy to get along with. I'll bet I would have a hard time picking a fight with you.

OL -- Everything you said makes perfect sense. You are correct that no one at her level (same as mine) gets fired; it's just too difficult. I am still trying to figure out the secret of her power. This is far from over and I have some novel ideas to try courtesy of Reya. She may ended up being "blinded by the light". More to come, I am sure...

12:53 PM  

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