Seeing Clearly  
October 2014



Synchronize with the present moment 
When we are mindfully aware at work, it’s not as if we are simply alert to the present moment as if we were intently sightseeing or inspecting our experience. Rather mindfulness awareness introduces us to the reality that we are fully immersed – utterly harmonized 3600 with the circumstances where we find ourselves. We instinctively take a panoramic view and become emotionally and physically in tune with our experience. 
Let’s take a simple example. One of the classic missteps at work is firing off an email in response to a perceived insult or criticism. We’ve arrived at work a bit late and we are rushing to make a meeting in 15 minutes when we notice an email in our inbox from the IT department entitled: Your project is over budget, late and is being reconsidered. We know the author – we’ve gotten these broadsides before and frankly we are a bit fed up. 
We open the email, glance quickly over the familiar criticisms about “...we have some concerns…” “…there has been no follow up….” “…meetings have been missed…” and we fire off our curt response in bold capital letters: “PLEASE STOP SENDING THESE EMAILS. IN THE FUTURE, JUST CALL.”
We’re feeling pretty good as we leave for the meeting, when we pause. A little flutter in our stomach tells us that we may have missed something - to check one last detail. Reopening the offending email, we check once again and to our surprise, we are not even the intended recipient. The email was addressed to a colleague, copied to several senior managers and we were blind copied as a courtesy.
Such missteps often cause lasting damage at work and at times end careers. But, by training in mindfulness awareness meditation, we can learn to avoid such missteps by Synchronizing with the present moment.  
Typically, we experience much in our lives as “mental events”. We “like” cherry vanilla ice cream, but we “dislike” sour milk. We “agree” with Rush Limbaugh, but we “disagree” with  Douglas Fairbanks. We “welcome” praise from colleagues but harbor grudges about emails that appear to be criticizing us.  
While such views may offer some valid insight or practical advice, they nonetheless are conceptual interpretations of the actual events we are experiencing. When we practice mindfulness awareness we become quite familiar with “mental events” and how they color our experience. In fact, the mindfulness aspect of the training teaches us to simply notice thoughts as they present themselves. In the meditation, there is no need to encourage, discourage, expand or dwell on mental events. By simply recognizing “thoughts” as “thoughts”, we learn to distinguish between “mental events” and our actual experience.  But what is our actual experience?
Discovering what we “actually” experience, whether it’s at work or in daily life, begins with curiously exploring our circumstances and then noticing how our experience “speaks to us”.  For example, let’s consider a snowy winter day. Some of us may consider snow a hassle – a mess that creates chores and difficulties. Or we may see snow as a chance to be free – from school, work, routines. Maybe we enjoy watching snow fall or sliding down icy hills. Discovering our actual experience requires that we curiously explore our “snowy winter day” beyond such labels into what is unknown. 
We walk outside – maybe this time without shoes and socks. The snow falls gently and a crisp wind curls across the tops of distant trees. We bring our attention to now, relax all our senses and with no resistance, open to the entire situation. Sights, sounds, textures, tastes and smells are freely perceived in the bright, clear presence of this very moment. And, quite naturally we synchronize: our senses, our presence and our “wintry” world arise as a wide fabric of being that expresses itself unmistakably. As my teacher Chogyam Trungpa describes synchronizing:
“Synchronizing mind and body is looking and seeing directly beyond language….when you feel that you can afford to relax and perceive the world directly, then your vision can expand. You can see on the spot with wakefulness. Your eyes begin to open, wider and wider, and you see that the world is colorful and fresh and so precise; every sharp angle is fantastic.”  (Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior pg 53)       
Synchronizing with the present moment is the natural outcome of mindfully stabilizing our attention in meditation. When the restlessness of “thinking” about life exhausts itself, we develop an awareness that our presence is already in tune with our world, experiencing a larger wakefulness beyond concept, opinion and interpretation.
When we synchronize with our workplace just like synchronizing with a wintry snowfall (with our shoes on this time), we become unavoidably alert for the full picture; we intuitively know that the stage is as important as the actors; we recognize an organization to be a web of lively relationships not a series of isolated transactions “about me” and “my opinions”. When we train our minds in mindfulness awareness, we become more and more aware that no matter what we do or say – whether in an email or in the boardroom; in the cafeteria or at a press briefing – there is always a greater context to consider. 
The slogan Synchronize with the present moment reminds us that we need not be victims of our opinions or our versions of events. Narrowly focusing on our agenda, our insult, our needs simply makes no sense when we are fully synchronized with our workplace. And by practicing mindfulness awareness we can learn to engage our work and lives from a much wider wakeful view – directly touched by the world around us. 

Candle lit bamboo-and-paper lanterns were commonly used in ancient Japan for brightening the evening darkness. And as is the courteous ritual, a friend, one evening, offered just such a lantern to a blind man to carry home with him. 

"I do not need a lantern," the blind man remarked. "Darkness or light is all the same to me." 

"I know you do not need a lantern to find your way," his friend replied, "but if you don't have one, someone else may run into you. So please take it nonetheless." 

Taking the lantern in hand, the blind man started off and before too long he walked squarely into a fellow traveler. 

"Look out where you are going!" the blind man barked at the stranger. "Can't you see this lantern?"

"Your candle has burned out, brother," replied the stranger.

Meditation Instruction

“You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart”.
Steve Jobs  Feb 1955 - Oct 2011

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