Thursday, June 21, 2007

Mindfulness to Noise at Work

Last week, we talked about mindfulness to our surroundings at work. I introduced a technique I use with kids to make them more aware in nature (ten seconds of listening with eyes closed). And many of you described the noises of work. So how do you deal with those noise at work?

As I started to type this a helicopter started circling the neighborhood. I went outside to watch. It seems to have been some sort of LA County Fire patrol for brush or fires or maybe pot. In any case, I eventually went inside and back to work.

Short of the sound of a helicopter circling your workplace, there are often other noises at work that bother us and make work more difficult: coworkers typing, talking, or laughing on the phone, elevator noises, even opening and shutting of doors. These can all be distractions when we're trying to focus.

Wildmind Buddhist Meditation gives some helpful advice about meditating among noise, "Trying to fight the noise is unlikely to work. The noise is not going to go away because you don’t like it. If you respond aggressively to it then you’re just getting yourself into a fight that you cannot win."

That reminds me of how I learned to handle migraines by giving in to the pain (with tonglen meditation) rather than fighting it. You have to accept the noise, and see the noise as part of your practice of work, not as a separate distraction.