Learning to See Things As They Are
An Invitation to Reboot Your Work
“To see things as they are, to see the changing nature, to see the impermanence, to see that constant flow of pleasant and painful events outside our control — that is freedom. Equanimity is taught as the final meditation among the brahma-viharas because it provides the balance for lovingkindness, compassion, and sympathetic joy. These others open one’s heart in a wish for well-being: “May you be happy.” “May you be free from suffering.” “May your joy never cease.” Equanimity balances those heartfelt wishes with the recognition that things are the way they are. However much we may wish for something, most results are beyond our control…Equanimity has all of the warmth and love of the previous three states, but it also has balance, wisdom, and the understanding that things are as they are, and that we cannot ultimately control someone else’s happiness and unhappiness. This understanding constitutes the words we recite in the equanimity meditation: All beings are the owners of their karma. Their happiness and unhappiness depend on their actions, not on my wishes for them.”
~Sharon Salzberg, Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness
Like so many things in my life, it began with a book. In this case, my more-than-a-decade-long relationship with Sharon Salzberg began with Faith. It was February 2002 and I was at one of the lowest points of my life. I was at a point where, as St. Augustine wrote, my soul was a burden, tired of the man who carried it.
But that nadir moment was also the moment when the rest of my life began. Reading Faith, as well as Parker Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak and Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart, was a critical step in the reboot of my life. In that book, I found solace in hearing the words of someone who’d confronted her own childhood challenges only to emerge a sacred teacher. As with Parker and Ani Pema, in Sharon I found both a companion and a guide.
Today I count Sharon not only as an author I admire, a teacher who inspires, a friend with whom I have belly-laughs, but, now, a colleague at Reboot.
For this latest 10-Day Reboot marks a deepening connection with Sharon and her beautiful teachings and profound work. This particular Reboot, offering assistance in, perhaps, the biggest work/life challenge of all (i.e., Finding happiness at work) is also a launchpad for all of us to bring even deeper mindfulness-training into the leadership development work we strive to bring forth each day.
Over time, that connection will deepen even further. I’m excited about collaborating with Sharon to bring mindful awareness to the larger conversation around leadership and the quest for actualization through work. It’s a beautiful expression of what my colleague Khalid refers to as Reboot’s secret mission: To smuggle in consciousness wherever it’s needed.
This will include not only collaborating onsite with client companies but also having Sharon join us as a special facilitator and coach at our upcoming Bootcamp.
I know the best way to pay back my teachers is to pay it forward. Bringing Sharon more fully into this small band of broken-hearted warriors — the sangha that has grown up around all things Reboot — is a paying-it-forward gift. Moreover, it’s a gift that rebounds back to us. Despite us being the giver, we — at Reboot — are just as enriched by the act of gifting these teachings as you, the receivers.
This, too, feels like the balance of equanimity where both sides of the relationship grow; where each of us lends a hand to the other, perhaps holding an elbow of someone who’s just stumbled.
This movement towards seeing things as they really are is one of the first lessons we emphasize at our Bootcamps. I love how Sharon reminds us that this is the path to equanimity and, ultimately, achieving a sustained happiness at work that goes beyond the pleasure of being well-compensated. Indeed, it moves us directly into the realm of what the poet, David Whyte, calls “good work, done well, for the right reasons.”
In the end, that definition of equanimity is the most fierce and most loving.
Sign up for Reboot Your Work—our complimentary ten-day self-guided course with Sharon Salzberg. You will learn mindfulness practices to transform your work practice for increased happiness, effectiveness, efficiency and creativity. The course is based on Sharon’s New York Times Bestseller, Real Happiness at Work.
Team members of all stages, positions, practices and roles will find the lessons and insights transformative. You will also have the opportunity to connect with other course participants by sharing your responses to select writing prompts in our Reboot Your Work publication here on Medium.