As an Urban Zen Integrative Therapist, I am often asked to produce an “Urban Zen experience” in a corporate setting.
I remember the first time I stepped into this environment at an ad agency. It surprised me to see how people reacted to having mindfulness programs incorporated into their workspace. I never thought I’d see the day when large corporations would put programs to support employees’ wellbeing into place. I have to admit, I hadn’t worked in the this environment since 1997, but I’ve still observed the negative effects on the bodies and minds of these employees that comes from sitting for long periods of time.
Recently I worked as part of a team piloting a UZIT (Urban Zen Integrative Therapy) program that required me to do exactly that – sit and work on a computer for 6 to 8 hours a day. I was so focused on the task at hand that I forgot to follow my own teaching, to open and expand my body. Suddenly, I began to notice that my left shoulder was tense, my hip flexors were tightening up, and my neck was not very supportive of the weight of my head. I actually began to feel the physical breakdown of my body. My morning routine shifted from a calm, meditative energy to a rushed frenzy. I commuted, which was something I haven’t done in years and which added yet another different level of stress to my day. I experienced a coworker getting angry with me and as a result, I became reactive. The only time I found peace was when I got to either practice my yoga and Urban Zen Therapy, or when I was teaching, which I continued to do five nights a week throughout the project.
In the old paradigm of thinking there was no melding of our personal and professional lives.
Professionals worked long, hard hours, and often self-medicated with smoking and/or drinking to calm the body. But in this new way of approaching life, people are discovering healthy habits to create more balance. This then trickles down into their home life, which then allows them to enjoy life in each environment.
Take a practice like transcendental meditation. David Lynch is a genius at integrating this practice into businesses, schools and other public forums – or witness Arianna Huffington’s change of heart as it pertains to burnout on the job and how to implement self-care. One of my teachers, Kari Harendorf, says “the body needs to run just as efficiently as your home or car.”
The key to an efficient body is letting your adrenal glands take a break and open up the “rest and digest” channel of the body, or what is called the parasympathetic nervous system. Christiane Northrup, M.D., says, “Norepinephrine (adrenalin) makes your heart pound, your blood rush to your heart and large muscle groups, your pupils widen, your brain sharpen, and your tolerance for pain increase—basically, it prepares you for battle. Modern-day battles are most likely things like pushing your body to keep going when it’s fatigued, dealing with a stressful job. Think of these adrenaline surges as withdrawals from a bank, to help you get through life’s rough spots. If you have gotten into the habit of withdrawing adrenaline from your account too often, you’ll eventually be overdrawn and your adrenal glands will be overwhelmed. Then, you’ll have too little of it when you really need it.”
My husband Yanni and I co-own a media production company. People often ask us, “How do you work together?” The truth is, we like each other and it ignites happiness for us to be creative together. We recently rebranded One Route (our company) to reflect what inspires us. For me it’s a dream come true, because it integrates my two worlds of media and wellness, but is not limited to either. We made a conscious choice to work on projects that move the human spirit forward. In media producing, there are times that a project may require us to work 24 hours and by the end our energy is low. We started to utilize some of my practices from yoga and Urban Zen as a way to enforce a self-care practice. It’s our responsibility to care for ourselves, especially as business owners. The people who choose to work with us need to feel that we are present so that we are able to produce their story in an authentic way.
I study yoga as well as Urban Zen under Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman Yee, and they’ve taught me how important it is to show up and be clear about the choices you make.
This is something that can be applied to every aspect of life, including my producing. It’s so apparent how important it is to have awareness, mindfulness, and a level of consciousness on set during filming or in the editing suite.
Developing a self-care program may seem easy, but in actuality, it’s a challenge that will quickly it will be left behind when life gets busy: the kids need you, mail is piling up, project deadlines are approaching. Self-care is usually the first thing to go by the wayside. So we’ve made it part of our work schedule, plugging reminders into our calendar to alert us or blocking out mandatory reenergizing sessions, so we can take what I call a “menna-pause” moment. We laugh at the “menna-pause” also – it’s okay to laugh at me!
It is my hope that you will enjoy the short video of (something – yoga?) that you can do at your desk when you need to take a moment to calm your mind, catch your breath, and ground your feet. Namaste!
Learn more at https://about.me/phenomenna
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