Mindfulness and Compassion For Effective Collaboration
Updated: Oct 22, 2019
Have you ever spent 20 minutes staring into the deep eyes of a stranger and pondering who they really are? The beauty and grace with which Jack Kornfield led me in this practice left a deep sense of wonder and inevitable growth.
I recently had the immense privilege of attending A Greater Good Gathering – a collaboration between the Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) and 1440 Multiversity. Among many star presentations and experiences, some of which you can read about on our blog, including: What Is Empathy And How Do We Cultivate It, and Positivity at Home and at Work, Jack’s powerful words are ingrained in my heart and mind above all others.
What do we do with this human incarnation? Jack began by reading a poem by Mark Nepo:
Everything is beautiful and I am so sad. This is how the heart makes a duet of wonder and grief. The light spraying through the lace of the fern is as delicate as the fibers of memory forming their web around the knot in my throat. The breeze makes the birds move from branch to branch as this ache makes me look for those I’ve lost in the next room, in the next song, in the laugh of the next stranger. In the very center, under it all, what we have that no one can take away and all that we’ve lost face each other. It is there that I’m adrift, feeling punctured by a holiness that exists inside everything. I am so sad and everything is beautiful.
We are reminded of the human capacity for love. We are reminded that we are able to see beauty even in the sadness – which means that what truly matters is not our circumstances, but our perception. This is true mindfulness. As Jack aptly puts it, “it’s not what is playing on the screen, but rather who is watching.”
Mindfulness expands our capacity to add joy and sorrow, which is the gateway to freedom. This is true not just for the individual, but for the collective. If we can face the beauty of sadness in our life, we can protect against hate. If we cannot, then we cannot face our own pain and we blame our problems on others, creating real social problems.
This can manifest itself at work in very meaningful ways. We search for collaboration, team work, we want to feel brave at work to take risks and create. How can we do that if we do not practice love and compassion for ourselves and for our team?
Jack offered an experience to solidify this idea. Find a partner, look them in the eyes, and say: “How wonderful you are in your being, and I am so glad you are here”. Imagine someone at work relaying a similar message. Would you not do everything in your power to help them when they are facing a deadline? When they are on holiday and someone needs to take immediate actions on their account? When they are stuck and need creative flow to solve an organizational crisis?
Let us re-humanize work. Let us practice self-awareness and see others in the best light. Only then can we excel and progress.