It is often said that our greatest teachers are those with whom we have a troubled relationship. Workplaces are one place we encounter these relationships with frequency. It doesn’t matter where we work, there seems to always be that one person who makes us crazy! Finding peace in the workplace is a difficult task for many. As a yogini working in a law office I sometimes feel like my very being in the office is at conflict with the values that I hold dear. Peace evades the law office. There is a great deal of stress, there are personalities that can be difficult, it seems that conflict and competition are the bread and butter in law. And yet, I work in a clinical law office where clients are poor, students are eager to learn, staff lawyers are compassionate and want to do good in the world. If I were to ask the staff if they’d like peace here at the office I think there would be a resounding YES! But we don’t have it. So what are the lessons of working in this sort of organization that is full of people who want to do good but who struggle to find peace amongst each other?
We can only work on ourselves. There isn’t anything we can do to change another persons behaviors or thinking. So once again, we need to look within. The truth is no one can make us feel anything. However subtle it is, it is a choice. We can choose to be frustrated and look at people as an irritant or we can choose peace within even in the face of chaos without. We can strategize to discover the ways that will help us to change our own thinking rather than trying to force our opinions on others. This requires us first to notice our own thoughts and to stop engaging with them; Stop trying to find the evidence to back up what we imagine another person is thinking. Slowing the mind down so we can catch ourselves in the act is a good tool. But it is purposeful. We need to intend it. For some it’s as simple as slowing the breathing and simply moving on to he next thought. For everyone, over time this practice can become habit and something we do subconsciously. But we do need to be willing to start and to keep it up. The old adage practice makes perfect applies to training your mind as well. Meditation is a wonderful tool to start slowing the thinking. Once we start to see the patterns in our own thinking and begin to challenge that thinking we will find more peace within. That leads to more peace in the office, even if only from our own perspective. Maybe this is the lesson to be learned from the people who are our teachers – change our own perspective and see them differently.