A wrap around desk takes up at least three quarters of the room. We each sit some distance away from it on stacked meditation cushions, one of us on one side, one on the other, and two against an adjacent wall. There are enough of us that it is the desk, and not the meditation cushions, that seems out of place. On the outside of the room, students anxiously study for a biology test, a faculty member starts the copier, and a staff member punches the button to learn that she has no voicemail. Someone loudly asks someone else if the copies in the tray are his.
With a door shut between us and the noises, we are a trained coach, a deacon in an area church, a student, and the one who invited us: a guy working on a certification to teach mindfulness meditation. We also all work at a college, but at 7:30 in the morning, we aren’t the people who will be in classrooms and offices in a few hours. We are the people who sit for an hour, letting the outside pass through on its way somewhere else. In here, even with breathing and mantras, that outside world seems loud.
Plenty of workplaces endorse yoga and meditation. But our workplace doesn’t sponsor our meditation. We do. Perhaps even when something is workplace sponsored—like some yoga sessions that are available to people working at our college—it’s good for people to have their own commitment, done their way. This is two days after Super Tuesday and one day after a college administrator wrote everyone about how the school plans to handle the possible spread of a pandemic. There are plenty of reasons to run around, figuring out what needs to be done. There are equal or more reasons why we should sit still, or at least, sit.
Like a lot of people who first learned a sitting practice in coach training, I didn’t take to it immediately. I was meditating regularly after a while, but at first, it seemed antithetical to going to work, writing, obtaining practice clients, and preparing for something we didn’t call an exam, but that definitely felt like some kind of test. Now, any spiritual test in a training program—or in a degree, for that matter—feels like nothing next to days where the temperature is unseasonably warm, no one understands how to respond to what’s happening with national and international conflicts, and a person who coughs too loud gets a worried glare. All of this is to say nothing of the everyday conflicts that many of us face, where we go to work (or work for ourselves) and deal with someone unkind or face deadlines.
But we all are working on it, in some direct or indirect way. Getting up, talking to other people, and refusing to hoard hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes is working on it. Voting is working on it, and trying to do meaningful work is working on it. And so is sitting, particularly since some of us sit through some noise so that we can stand through the rest of it.
Christina uses her Integral Coach training in higher education. Her writing has appeared in several journals and anthologies including Crab Fat, BioStories, Big Muddy, Sinister Wisdom, Hashtag Queer, Volume 3 and Is it Hot in Here, or Is It Just Me? .
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