navigate a saner path through” balancing a
busy work and home life.
In Mindful Work (Houghton Mi;in Harcourt, 2015; not available at Costco), Gelles, a
Costco member, shares stories of how those
practices are working for individuals and
companies, such as General Mills and Google.
“We all are stressed about something or
another,” says Gelles. “Mindfulness meditation
helps us create some room around that stress,
and one of the ways it does that is by training
us to be a bit more accepting of what’s hap-
pening. But this doesn’t mean being totally
passive or just being a pushover.”
Gelles adds that while mindfulness is no
panacea, in addition to reducing stress, it can
increase focus and the ability to stay on task.
“When we actually start paying attention
to what we’re doing, we’ll notice a whole lot of
things that we might otherwise miss,” he says.
“When we can stop this incessant mind wandering and actually be fully present in the
moment, there is a whole range of sensations
that reveal themselves to us that we’re otherwise usually too distracted to notice.”
Finding calm in WhiteSpace
Costco member Juliet Funt, CEO of
WhiteSpace at Work, has a di;erent approach.
Simply put, WhiteSpace is the act of making a
little space between workday activities.
“;at little space can be 30 seconds to
breathe before you get on an elevator, or it can
be a CEO sitting [and] looking out the window
for an hour, or it could be anything in between.
;e idea is to open up ;uid, unscheduled time
that lurks between activities,” says Funt, daugh-
ter of Candid Camera creator Allen Funt. “;e
problem is the meeting, which connects to the
conference call, which connects to the lunch.
We are putting in these little wedges of time to
break the chain of connected activity.”
Funt ( julietfunt.com/whitespace) says she
;rst started talking about WhiteSpace about 10
A CALL FOR CALM
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 33
When we actually start
paying attention to what we’re
doing, we’ll notice a
whole lot of things that we
might otherwise miss.
years ago as a keynote speaker, and since then
people have wanted to hear about little else.
“It was the most clear, gigantic and visible
arrow from the market, just pointing [out]
that this is our problem,” she explains.
Funt’s experience is that most businesses
don’t appreciate the need for WhiteSpace until
they see an uptick in health issues or a creative
sta; without the time to create. Other warning
signs include a group making potentially costly
mistakes, a downward shi; in morale or people jumping ship for other companies.
While getting people to create time in
their schedules isn’t impossible, it does, she
notes, involve addressing the culture of busi-
ness in which “you take the pain and you don’t
question and maybe you’re so buried in denial
that you don’t even have any perception that
anything is wrong.”
“I think it is that boundary-less, creative,
playful, free experience that people miss so
much, and I think that that’s one of the reasons
why it’s so nurturing,” explains Funt, who adds
that the bene;ts include more focus, engage-
ment and invigoration. “You don’t have to
breathe deeply in WhiteSpace; you just have to
be not doing a whole bunch of other stu; dur-
ing that moment.” C
CARL HONORÉ, who coined the phrase
“Slow Movement,” has the following tips
to add a little slowness to your life.
Breathe. Slow, deep breathing reoxy-genates the body, which slows the heartbeat and stabilizes blood pressure. When
you feel panicky, stop for a moment and
take a few deep breaths.
Speed audit. Stop and ask yourself if
you’re doing whatever you’re doing too fast.
If you are going faster than you need to
when you do the audit, go back to the task
and work more slowly.
Downsize your calendar. Look at
your schedule for the next week, pick the
least important scheduled activity and drop
it. This will take some of the heat out of
that particular day.
Schedule unscheduled time. Block
off two hours in your week when you don’t
plan anything in advance. This will guarantee
you some time when you can slow down to
your own rhythm.
Find a slow ritual. Find a slow ritual
that acts as your personal brake and helps
you shift into a lower gear. It might be
gardening, reading, yoga, cooking, knitting,
you need to regroup. All you need to do is
settle your attention on the feeling of your
breath. You don’t have to sit down cross-legged
and close your eyes and look weird.”
Salzberg understands how mindfulness
may appear to be a passive way of avoiding
work, but she adds that research shows that
the practiced focus enhances work perfor-
mance and response to situations. At the same
time, she notes, her emphasis is on the words
of “an old, venerable Tibetan lama” who spoke
of “short moments, many times.”
Whether you wait until a;er the phone
rings a third time to pick it up or remind your-
self of your priorities before a meeting, instead
of needing large chunks of time, mindfulness
can mean taking moments throughout “the
workday where we can break the sometimes
crazy momentum of what’s happening around
us and take a breath and regroup,” Salzberg
recommends. “Because when we come back
to ourselves in that way, we also come back to
our priorities and our purpose and what we
really care about.”
Salzberg isn’t alone in recognizing the
bene;ts of using mindfulness to create much-needed breaks during the workday. Earlier
this year, business journalist David Gelles
wrote an article for ;e New York Times about
how Aetna’s CEO, Mark T. Bertolini, a;er a
near-fatal accident, began o;ering free yoga
and meditation classes at the company. To
date roughly 13,000 employees have taken the
classes. ;e result is a feeling of less stress,
decreased heart rates and a decrease in the levels of the stress hormone cortisol among those
employees—along with reduced health-care
costs, which translated into about $9 million
in savings for the company.
Not just an assignment, the story was personal for Gelles ( davidgelles.com), who says,
“Mindfulness and meditation have helped me
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