Managing with Mindfulness

In late October I enrolled in a mindfulness program offered through the Grand Rapids Center for Mindfulness  The exact name is "Mindful Based Stress Reduction", but I prefer to simply call it "mindfulness program" because the it offers so much more than stress reduction -- it's a guide to listening to my authentic self and being in touch with me as we are guided through several mindful practices.Just like the assignments I give to my Database Sherpa clients, my classmates and I are assigned "practices." (I know several people call them "homework" but I prefer "practices"). We practice various mindfulness techniques in our own environments so we can hone our skills. I'm halfway through the program and my mindfulness haven has become, of all places, my car, where I practice seated meditation. During my car practices, the voice of April Hadley (my instructor) begins to talk to me, and my body responds. There has been an unintended consequence to this: I'm a better driver. I drive slower. I'm more aware of my surroundings. I am quiet. No radio, instead the sounds of traffic and the wheels on the road. And I'm not the only one following an ancient practice in a modern environment. Zola has been in the car with me, and we have meditated together while waiting for Daddy at the dentist. The sweet sound of my daughter taking deeps breaths in the back of the car while I relax in the front is bliss. She manages the intro and the three-minute meditation (about eight minutes). Pretty darn good if you ask me.While I've been going through this program, I realized that I've been attempting to embed these mindfulness principles into the work of Database Sherpa. Being present and aware of the current state of emotions and well-being of my clients is important, yet I was not giving my clients the tools necessary to handle stress long after I have departed. Although I build confidence, stress will occur regardless.

Then, an opportunity presented itself. A client asked me when we might discuss and act on some yoga techniques that were not in our original plans. (They were pretty sure that I was going to do it -- they just wondered when it was going to happen.)At the time, she and her co-worker were working on their annual appeal campaign (and those in the nonprofit sector know the stress that can bring). So, I explained a technique called Lion's Breath to them (thanks to a wonderful suggestion from my Sherpa partner, Veronica Beck), and sent them a YouTube video of various people doing Lion's Breath. A few weeks passed before our next trek. When we connected, I asked them, how it made them feel.Only one had done it and it had relieved her stress. On the other hand, her co-worker had not, and had been suffering from headaches so bad that she had to take time off from work. We both recommended she try it -- I know it's one of my favorite stress-relieving practices. (And we all joked about practicing Lion's Breath at their next staff meeting. It would be a hoot to watch!)

So, while I am embedding compassion, kindness, database development skills into Database Sherpa, I also need to provide my clients with coping skills. Providing them tools and techniques that they can use on their own to deal with the changes that will come with their new database system. Yet another refinement of the Sherpa process, for which I am grateful to my mindfulness teacher, April Hadley.