In my last post, I wrote about a six-week workshop, “Mindfulness for Job Seekers,” that was recently offered by the New York Public Library’s Science, Industry and Business Library’s (SIBL) Job Search Central Department. The workshop instructor was Laura Jackson, a UCLA-trained mindfulness facilitator who has been practicing Zen meditation for over 12 years. The workshop description read:
“Learn mindfulness techniques that bring relaxation and effortless focus to challenging situations and relationships. Mindfulness is the practice of bringing full, nonjudgmental awareness to the present moment. The struggle of searching for a job can be overwhelming at times. See if the practice of mindfulness meditation and some easy to use on-the-spot techniques can help you during these challenging times.”
As stated in my last post, my reason for attending the workshop was to network with the instructor Laura to discuss doing a similar workshop for my job seeking clients. But I definitely benefited from attending! It was wonderful for me personally to have such a profound spiritual boost in the middle of my workweek. Laura did more than talk about job seeking—she talked about the importance of humanity, relationships, and self-love, all so important in this broken world.
The fifth session opened with silent meditation. When I meditate, my mind tends to wander. I then try to focus upon things in my life for which I am grateful. I appreciate the moment of silence and stillness. It is vital to be silent and still at times.
After some group conversation, we did more meditation. Laura played a powerful Ganesh Mantra, “Om Gum Ganapataye Nahama” by Deva Premal. It is a mantra for precarious times like ours. The mantra is a salutation to Ganesh who is “the clearer of obstacles.”
When the meditation ended, Laura talked about how we are sometimes too harsh on ourselves, too judgmental. She referenced Don Miguel Ruiz’ book “The Four Agreements,” which outlines four guiding life principles:
• Be impeccable with your word
• Don’t take anything personally
• Don’t make assumptions
• Always do your best
One job seeker talked about how he started meditating before two recent interviews and not only felt relaxed, but found that he was able to answer the interview questions effortlessly. Another job seeker said that within the past week, he decided to stop worrying and “let things go.” He meditated more often and reported that he was recently offered several phone interviews. Laura talked briefly about the power of releasing worry and letting things go, stating “let go and trust.”
Laura lamented the unsustainable pace of our lives, saying that New Yorkers spend so much time running around, buried in their mobile devices. We don’t seem happy. A hilarious 1955 radio program by comedian Jack Benny titled “Ed and the Vault” drove home this point. Jack Benny had a vault in his home to keep his money stored. A guard named Ed lived in isolation in the vault. Jack goes to retrieve some money and after chatting with Ed, decides to bring Ed out of the vault to spend time out in the world. After a few experiences, Ed is eager to return to the vault. He says of the world “Everybody up here is in such a hurry, rushing around all excited, noise and confusion. Nobody seems to be really happy.” Unfortunately, we can say the same thing 62 years later.
The most poignant, yet inspiring part of the workshop was when Laura revealed to us that she was in physical pain. Laura reported that she had been ill the entire month of October, but conducted the workshop as if nothing were amiss in her body. Laura said that she was letting go of her pain in a sense, and said that she would not fear death when it came because she felt she had lived a wonderful life. I want to have the same attitude, not fearing death and knowing that I have lived the best life possible.
Laura urged the job seekers to walk in love and turn away from fear, especially during these difficult times. I really took that message to heart. And I decided to follow Laura’s practice by refraining from listening to and reading so much bad news. I stay informed but I do not wallow in the headlines. I used to read so many newspapers and listen to a number of talk shows but that has stopped. I also do not use social media as much anymore. It feels good to have more tools to use to take better care of myself emotionally. Each day now, I spend time meditating with the Ganesh Mantra that Laura introduced to us. Even on bad days, I am pressing on and encouraging myself.
I am letting go and trusting.
My next blog post will feature a summary of the final “Mindfulness for Job Seekers” workshop.