How Not To Have A Meltdown in 2015
A panel on mindfulness, meditation, self-care and mental health.
This is a transcript of TheLi.st panel, “How Not To Have A Meltdown in 2015" at Knoll New York on January 14, 2015, featuring David Gelles, author of “Mindful Work: How Meditation is Changing Business from the Inside Out”; Dina Kaplan, founder of new meditation startup The Path; Bea Arthur, founder of online therapy startup In Your Corner; and Glynnis MacNicol co-founder of TheLi.st and author of the viral Elle article What It’s Like to Burn Out.
Here is the video (not the best sound quality):
Here is the sound file (much better sound quality):
Here is the transcript (with skimmable pullquotes!):
Glynnis MacNicol: I’m Glynnis MacNicol. Rachel Sklar and I run The List. Our panel tonight: David Gelles is actually going to be moderating and I will introduce you to him. David is a business reporter — star business reporter for the New York Times, I’m sure you recognize the byline if you’re a Times reader — and has a book coming out called “Mindful Work,” coming out March 10 but you can pre-order on Amazon or website of your choice. And there are stress balls back there if you need to get a little stress out, with that information on it.
Bea Arthur is a licensed mental health counselor, Co-founder, and runs a site and business called In Your Corner, which provides online therapy and coaching and is a wonderful, wonderful resource and I know many people who have used it and it has been very helpful.
Bea Arthur: You can’t tell anybody who uses it.
GM: Right. It’s all anonymous. I only know because they’ve told me. This is Dina Kaplan who founded and runs a business called The Path, which you might have read about, in the New York Times Style section last month. The Path, and you can go online and see where classes are and register for classes.
Dina Kaplan: Or you can just come and talk to me after. We’ll put you on the list. That list is separate from TheLi.st.
“We have a panel of experts here. We have a stressed-out moderator and three stressed-out panelists. We know what we’re talking about.”
GM: It teaches ancient meditation techniques in a modern way, to a modern audience. So there you go. And I’m, as I said, Glynnis MacNicol and one of the inspirations for this panel and this subject was: I wrote an article for Elle.com earlier last year about how I burned out. The response to that article was so overwhelming. There were so many people who wrote me saying that they had experienced those symptoms or were experiencing them and were panicking didn’t know what to do, that we thought it warranted a panel about that and how to deal with that and how to get through that and cope, and also, to thrive, because it’s not the end of the world. So here we go. Over to you.
David Gelles: Thank you. Thanks all for being here.
GM: The hashtag tonight is #xxzen.
DG: #xxzen. That’s the title of my next book.
We have a panel of experts here. We have a stressed-out moderator and three stressed-out panelists. We know what we’re talking about. It’s appropriate that we’re doing this here in New York City, which I think has probably got to be the stressed out, neurotic, probably burned out city on the planet and I’m sure everyone in the audience has their own story about this. We want to hear at least initially, the stories of our the panelists and then we want to hear from the audience because I’m sure that everyone in the audience, in addition to having their own story, has something to teach everyone else in this room. I want to go back to Glynnis because she mentioned this story she wrote for Elle, this very powerful article, if you could very briefly walk us through your own story. What happened that led you to be burned out in a dark room watching Golden Girl re-runs?
GM: That’s what happened. I sort of came into my professional career at the same time the internet was taking off. I was a media reporter in 2005–2006 and, like everyone else, saw this as such an advantage to leap frog over all of the steps you used to have to take as a writer or a reporter and just speed through it all. The result of that ambition and that ability to do so was that I was working twenty-hour days, seven days a week for five years straight. I would sleep with my Blackberry, and this all seems very common now, and it shouldn’t be, but sleeping with my Blackberry, having it go off at all hours, constantly, constantly being on, constantly responding, and a non-stopness to it.
At first that was certainly a thrill and it resulted in professional success, but at the height of this when I had a high-profile job and was making quite good money and all of a sudden I was writing full time and it all seemed to have come together. I would get up on the morning and sit at my desk with my window that looked out onto my street in Brooklyn and the garbage truck would go by and I would sit there and think, ‘I really wish I was the garbage truck driver.’ I had this very conscious thought processes where I would stare at the garbage and think, ‘He gets to ride around Brooklyn, picks up the garbage, and then he doesn’t have to be on the internet so he gets to move away from his desk.’
It got to the point where I was leaving my job and had been offered a very high-profile job, which even when we had this discussion earlier, David he was surprised I turned down. I sat in this interview and said, ‘I don’t think that I can do this if I have fantasies about being the garbage truck driver.’ And I said this out loud, and to the credit of the people trying to hire me they said, ‘You just need a vacation. Take two weeks off, get off line, have a break, go on a holiday and come back and you’ll be fine.’ And I said, ‘This seems reasonable.’
I hadn’t had more than one day off in, I don’t know how many years. So I did just that. I checked out. I went to Florida. I visited my sister. I took a little road trip. It was all very fantastic and I came back and I thought, ‘I’m ready to go again.’ And I sat down and they said, ‘Here’s the story. Go write seventy-five headlines for it.’ And I said, ‘I’m going to find you someone else for this job because I can’t to this.’ I had a panic attack and I didn’t do anything for the next three months. I want to emphasize that I am not independently wealthy and I should not have been living in New York doing nothing for three months but I didn’t do anything. I would literally sort of watch my bank account diminish as if I was watching someone else’s bank account. I was very removed from everything that was going on. I would get up in the morning and watch Golden Girls on the TV and think, ‘I wish I was a retired person in 1985.’ Completely irrational, and to the point where I would go to events or parties, and Rachel can attest to this, and people would say, and as we all know, we live in New York, ‘What do you do?’ and I would say ‘Nothing. I don’t do anything.’ And it was true and I would take great pleasure in it. It got to such a point; I finally went back to work. We started The List, essentially is what happened. Because it got to the point where I had to eat.
“I was working twenty-hour days, seven days a week for five years straight. I would sleep with my Blackberry — this all seems very common now, and it shouldn’t be — but sleeping with my Blackberry, having it go off at all hours, constantly, constantly being on, constantly responding.”
DG: Thank you. I think that one of the things at the very tail end of that story is, ‘Oh just take two weeks, it’ll be better. It’s symptomatic of this idea that people have, that the way that we’re working it just the way it is, and the way it should be. You just need a brief break and if you take a little break that all the habits that are creating this environment in which we’re totally burned out, totally depleted, everything will be fixed, and we all know that’s not the case.
GM: And the time for me to take the two-week vacation where it would have been helpful, I was so far past that. That was like a year prior to the point where I took the two weeks, where I should have taken the two weeks. At that point I wouldn’t have considered taking that much time off.
David: I want to return this theme that’s not just about taking a quick break, but changing some of our behaviors. First I want to hear Dina’s burnout story.
GM: It’s a whopper. I kind of feel like we’re in an AA meeting.
Dina Kaplan: Pretty much anyone in New York could join that meeting. Yeah, this is a little bit of a whopper. I never knew that. I wish my story included Golden Girls. I was working absolutely non-stop. I founded my first company called Blip.TV and it was so exciting. It was sort of everything I had dreamed of, and my dad’s a professor at Harvard Business School and so now I’m finally running a company. But I did nothing but work, nothing but work, for seven years, all day, at night, at night even in the early evening or hosting something, hosting a dinner, speaking at a conference, maybe doing press. Every weekend. Just non-stop for seven years and then actually, some of you know this, I started this thing, I was running Blip, I was COO for most of the time and I started this thing called Founders Club for all the top internet founders in the city, really designed to promote the New York start-up ecosystem before it was what it is now. I was really into women founders like Rachel and Glynnis and I started this thing called Calliope Group to bring together all of the top women founders from the East Coast. So I’m hoping to run all three of these, and super highly functioning and depressed all the time and working a lot of internal operations but nobody knew because I wouldn’t even admit to myself that I as having panic attacks.
So for my last two years in helping to run Blip I actually couldn’t walk down the street by myself. I mean at all, like ever. Like a good COO I just solved the problem myself. I didn’t tell my doctor, my parents, my best friend. I didn’t even admit it to myself. I just solved the problem. I took taxis everywhere on a start-up salary, which may seem that I didn’t do much else but get to work and come home or try to find someone to walk with me. What would happen in the height of a panic attack, if you’ve never had one, is that you feel like you’re going to pass out and about to faint. So one day I was standing at the corner of Broome and Lafayette, because our office is right there. But I had to cross two intersections to get my office. I remember this day. It was November 11, 2011 and I just couldn’t cross the street. My hair was perfect. I had gotten my hair blown out. My clothes were beautiful. I was wearing high heels. I looked perfect. But I couldn’t even cross the street and I remember leaning against the utility pole praying that the light wouldn’t turn green because I’d have to cross, and I told myself ‘This is it.’ All my dreams of future success with the company, all the press I’m getting, which is all I had dreamed of as being respected and never having to work again, none of that is worth not feeling healthy. So I went in and I left the company that I founded which was everything, it was my entire life, I had nothing else in my life, I just knew that I had to live in the opposite part of the world, living the opposite life, so I booked a one way ticket to Asia, to Indonesia, as a little bit of an Eat Pray Love joke to myself. I booked a one-way ticket to Bali, and flew six days later, and actually thought I’d be gone for two months, which seemed like a really long time. I’d been the most ambitious person my entire life. What I thought would be two months ended up being two and a half years.
“So I went in and I left the company that I founded which was everything, it was my entire life, I had nothing else in my life, I just knew that I had to live in the opposite part of the world, living the opposite life. I booked a one-way ticket to Bali, and flew six days later. What I thought would be two months ended up being two and a half years.”
I spent two and half years traveling around the world learning to become a girl again because I was trying to play the role of a guy, which is what I thought I had to do to become a successful woman founder. So I learned to be a girl again. I learned to conquer a lot of fears, which in the end gave me the confidence to be myself and say what was on my mind, which I never did at Blip. The third part is that I really found meditation and that really changed my life and my brain and my ability to handle stress and think mindfully and act mindfully.
I came back to the US two and a half years later as a very different person and had to get all new friends, except for you guys. I wore different clothes. The meditation had literally changed me. I came back with a different personality. I liked myself a lot more, and have since decided to pay it forward. Thanks to mediation my life changed so dramatically I thought, what I did to learn it was really hard. I was in India in these feces-covered rooms and it was 120 degrees every day and it was really hard. I thought, ‘It really doesn’t need to be this hard, so let me take what I was taught, and pay it forward to people in the West to make it a little bit easier, keep techniques the same, but make it a bit easier.’ So I came back to the US and started this company, something called The Path, helping people like Jean that come which is so great, several of you guys, and it feels really good. It feels like I’m on my mission, I’m on my own path.
DG: We’ll return to that. First I want to hear from Bea. I pressed Bea earlier. I said, ‘Tell me your burnout story.’ And somehow, someway Bea is perhaps the one person in the room who hasn’t gotten burned out by the city. Tell me your burn out story.
Bea Arthur: I wasn’t burnt out by the city. My burnout was trying to start this company.
DG: I see a common story here.
BA: Yeah. Exactly. My story also involves the Golden Girls.
I was one of the original stars of the show…
GM: Bea’s last name as I said is Bea Arthur.
BA: And then I died and I got really into mediation and now I’m black.
Yea, it works, get into it.
GM: It’s actually the Bea reincarnation.
BA: Past life, aggression, all of that. It works. I believe in it too, it’s the only way that…well I guess, my burn out story. I’m a licensed…what did you say?
GM: Stay on topic.
BA: I’d like to recount my favorite Golden Girls story, but instead I’ll talk about how I started the company. So it’s called In Your Corner. We’re re-branding, it’s a new year. But I started a company called Pretty Padded Room four years ago in February. The reason I started it is because I’m a licensed mental health counselor and after graduating I got into social work. My favorite and longest job was as a domestic violence counselor. Most therapists, when they come out, want to help the world and save the world, but that energy gets matched by an equal amount of office energy, helping clients, most of whom are undocumented immigrants, who have been in repeatedly abusive domestic violence relationships, have kids, are living on $200–400 each week in the Bronx with three kids, and I got burnt out by their energy. For someone who believes in, well, I’m first generation, my parents are from Ghana. So for someone who believes in capitalism and lifting yourself up and doing everything right and it will result in an equal and opposite reaction, well I was realizing on, literally an hourly basis, that that wasn’t true, and that life wasn’t fair.
“I got burnt out, not on just how hard New York is, but on how hard the world is.”
Then I was also, people think that therapists make a lot of money, but as a domestic violence counselor I was making $38,000 and I went to Columbia so my student loans started to kick in (laughs), and I somehow live in Manhattan and started to think, ‘Oh yea, this will work out, somehow I’ll just mediate it out. (Laughter) But they don’t take that at the bank, and my supervisor didn’t take that. I was just getting really, like, the way my life was, and survival, you’re talking about thriving. A lot of it is just coping with waking up and getting there. So I started to feel the burns of my clients and the burns of not being able to eat and pay rent, like every month and wondering ‘How did this happen? I’m 25, 26.’ And as a therapist we’re often taught, ‘Be mindful. Have gratitude. Teach your clients to be here now, and stuff.’ But that doesn’t matter when you leave the room, when you have these kids, when you only have $200 and we have to give you a Metro card just so you can come into this session.
My burnout was really against the field that I was in. I was like, ‘This doesn’t work. They’re in this room and they feel better because I believe in them, but they go home and life is still hard and that’s not right.’ I got burnt out, not on just how hard New York is, but on how hard the world is. Like I said, a lot of these people came from Columbia and really believed in the American dream. But why was it so different for them? Why was it so hard? I remember thinking, ‘I don’t want to be mindful. I don’t want to be grateful, fuck that. I’m mad.
I’d also, the reason I had ended up in that job was because my company had failed, so I was super depressed. Depression really feels like you’re in a bubble almost. Like you were saying, you can’t cross the street, like nothing is happening. You feel like you’re at the bottom of the ocean, you almost can’t feel anything. In fact, this is an aside from the mental health piece, but you know on the anti-depressant commercials, the small print at the end of commercials says, ‘May cause suicidal inclination’? It’s because clinical depression looks like you don’t feel anything, you have no energy for anything. So the reason doctors and psychiatrists have to be careful giving you a dose of anti-depressants is because people feel a little bit better and they feel like they can do something about their situation and then they kill themselves. It’s true. When you’re truly at the bottom you don’t have energy to do anything, but you think about it a lot. I’m really going off.
With Pretty Padded Room, which was originally my company, I really wanted to embrace the strength part. Because you feel really powerless when you’re depressed. You feel like you can’t do anything about your situation, it’s never going to get better. But with Pretty Padded Room, it just came to me. Like, I wanted a place to go crazy. I wanted to be mad about it. I wanted it to be okay. I wanted someone to tell me I wasn’t actually crazy and that I was right to feel this way. So we started it, me and five of my friends, and we immediately found an audience: Millennial women who were having all of these transitions and all of these questions and didn’t know what to do about it. And it worked. We’ve had clients since the very beginning and know we’re opening up to men. So that’s Pretty Padded Room and now we’re In Your Corner. We’re not just therapy which is online therapy but we’re also life coaching and guided meditation, which has really, really helped me.
“Depression really feels like you’re in a bubble…you feel like you’re at the bottom of the ocean, you almost can’t feel anything.”
DG: That’s great. Thank you. Glynnis, you were burnt out, you were comatose watching reruns. Then you started TheLi.st. I’ve got to believe it’s more than starting your own company that has allowed you to not get burnt out over the past few years. So what have you changed about your life, your routine, the way you handle your digital diet, the stresses of living in New York City, that has allowed you to manage somewhat better?
GM: I’ve become really good at saying no. We talk on TheLi.st a lot that saying no for women is a particularly difficult, for young women especially difficult, and I’m not that young anymore, so it’s maybe a little bit easier. But I say no all of the time. I say no, and I made this joke in an article, like a two-year-old says ‘No’ to vegetables. I constantly say no. Like ‘No!’ Burning out, as anybody who has gone through it will tell you, is very, very terrifying, because once you come back from it, there’s this sense that there’s no value to anything, especially if you’re a very driven person, which is what often leads to the burnout in the first place. You’ve suddenly lose your sense of self, because who are you if you don’t want all of these things anymore? I was a media reporter and I don’t have a TV anymore. I’m very careful about not overdosing on news. I try to measure when I respond to my emails. I stay off Twitter. I try to know less, not know less about the world. I think there’s a whole other discussion to be had about FOMO, about seeing what everyone else is doing and seeing the highlight reel of other people’s lives and human nature sort of pushes you to think you have to keep up or makes you see what you perceive is the lack in yours. I’m very careful about knowing less about other people’s lives. I don’t need to know the minutiae of what everyone else is doing and that was a big deal. It’s not necessary, it’s okay to know slightly less, and that was a big thing. I really push back on the feeling of needing to respond to people in the moment. I’m very careful about my own time and I’m very careful about my own time and how I let other people’s lives infiltrate mine, whether that’s through Instagram or Facebook.
DG: On that last point, was that a matter of comparison and feeling like, ‘If everyone else had all of these experiences and all of these things that my life was somehow inadequate because I didn’t’?
GM: Or I wasn’t keeping up. Personally, it’s less a jealousy thing, although I’m very aware of how easy it is to feel envious of other people, especially when you feel that you’re not at your best or doing what you want to do. Then this sense of, I’m still prone to it. I can still go on Instagram for a second and think, ‘Oh my god, what am I doing?’ This sense of everyone else is not just running the race, but they’re running it fast, and they’re running it well, and they’re enjoying it. And I’m lying on the floor watching Golden Girls and hating everything. The truth of the matter is it’s not true about everyone else and it’s not true about yourself. But even drawing those conclusions, which come to you so naturally, the only solution I have found to that is to check out pretty carefully.
DG: I don’t know about you but I certainly find myself when I am in this kind of psychosis of comparing, I compare myself to others, and not just to one other person, but I compare my own experiences and accomplishments to the collective body of everyone else’s accomplishments.
GM: I know we talk about this pretty frequently, but the ‘highlight reel’ we talk about on Facebook or Instragram, which is, you’re comparing yourself to the highlight reel of the entire world with no context, no truth, and no anything but you’re like, ‘Everyone else is doing everything good, and I’m not doing anything at all.’
DG: My own version of this neurosis is when the Sunday Times arrives on Saturday, I go through the paper and get mad at myself for not writing every article on the government. And that’s potentially unrealistic. But I’ve trained myself to take it easier on myself, but it’s a process.
Dina, you started your own company. You burned out doing that. You came back, and you started another company.
DK: Oh god. You are so in it right now. We were on the cover of the paper recently.
“I certainly find myself when I am in this kind of psychosis of comparing. I compare myself to others, and not just to one other person, but I compare my own experiences and accomplishments to the collective body of everyone else’s accomplishments.”
DG: This afternoon when I walked in and I said, ‘How are you?’ You said ‘I’m stressed.’
DK: Yeah, I am.
DG: So what are you doing differently that you’re not going to end up paralyzed on the corner?
DK: I know. I had lunch today with my best friend, which I would not have done during the Blip days. Everything personal was actually not just pushed off to nights and weekends it was pushed off for the year. She looked at me and said, ‘You’re right back in Blip land.’ I was like, ‘Oh my god.’ We are really deep in operations right now. What am I doing differently? I have set up rules, which are really, really great. Which I did not keep for the last three nights, which is why I am in this state. But the rules are: no screens of any sort, no exception, after 11. I almost always keep this, so 11pm, no exceptions. It’s all off.
DG: Can you start again at 12:01?
DK: No. And then the mornings. This is absolutely the key thing and this is going to sound easy, but this is like, I don’t have a thing with food, I don’t get the food thing, you should just eat less if you want to eat less, sorry, don’t hate me for saying that, that is not my thing, my thing is this: Wake up, exercise. I run every morning, even eight minutes, we can do that. Then I do yoga for about seventeen minutes and then I meditate, for a maybe a half hour, twenty to forty-five minutes. Until that whole thing is done, I’m not allowed to turn on my phone.
DG: We can all do that if we can all run an eight-minute mile.
DK: No, I mean run for a little bit.
GM: I think the tough thing is that prior to the internet, you had to put the effort into engaging. What’s happened with the internet is that you have to put the effort in for disengaging. Everything with your work life is geared to keeping you engaged and making you feel as if you are obligated to be engaged. That effort to be engaged requires so much self-control and energy that the reward is not, there’s not a reward from society, there is not some medal you win. The reward is your sanity, which you don’t know is a reward until you lose it.
DK: Let me be really clear about what this does. This is an act of self-love that makes you literally fifty times more productive. So for example, I spent the weekend with Sharon Salzberg after You Diva and met her on Monday and she’s one of the most famous compassion meditation teachers, probably in the world, meditated, meditated, meditated, all weekend, saw the power of it. Woke up Tuesday and did this routine exactly.
“Let me be really clear about what this does. This is an act of self-love that makes you literally fifty times more productive.”
When you do this you get in this mode of ‘Here’s all this stuff coming at me, but let me honor myself with getting done.’ Shocking, shocking, shocking idea here, let me get done what I need to get done today. Okay, first. So, then after I did this routine. This routine sets you in the mode to be proactive and mindful about every activity that you do. You run, you do some yoga or stretching if yoga’s too scary for some guys here and then you meditate. Then you get everything single thing that you need to do that day, done off your plate. Then something happens. You are so happy with yourself, like ‘I love myself. I’m awesome. Look at all of this stuff I just knocked off my to-do list.’ My ability to then satisfy everybody else’s needs of me is fifty times higher. I have one of the most productive days in my entire life. My work was better. I was super happy with myself. I was glowing when I saw people late in the day they were like ‘You’re radiant.’ I’m like, “Yea.” I felt so good about myself for getting done everything I needed to get done. Where as the internet, the email, the Facebook, was all what tends to be what other people need of you. So it changes your life and it changes your productivity and in the end your companies, whatever it is you’re involved in, your writing, so much more successful if you set yourself up for success with like, that perfect morning routine for you.
DG: And I think it works for you. I think that’s your morning routine. There are a lot of other ones equally impactful for everyone in this room.
GM: I think too that we’re sensitive to the fact that not everyone owns their own company and you’re off to work on someone else’s schedule which is how I was working for many years and I would say I’m not a huge meditator, but if you have never meditated before just know that even ten minutes is a game changer.
DK: Or one minute.
GM: Ten minutes doesn’t sound like a lot, and in your day it’s not. But ten minutes of actual meditation, I think is a lot. It feels like a lot, so.
DG: It can be very powerful. I think the common theme here is taking care of yourself.
DK: Yes. Whatever that means. Figure out what you want to do and do it, yeah.
DG: Bea, how do you take care of yourself?
“I’m not a huge meditator, but if you have never meditated before just know that even ten minutes is a game changer.”
BA: Food is my thing.
I have to say, like, since starting my company I’ve gone up and down like twenty pounds, like really big ranges and what I learned being a therapist and working with other therapists is, food, anything that is a distractive behavior — your phone, Facebook — these provide numbing feelings, right, we’ll just keep doing it ‘til you’re not feeling it, right, so you can distract yourself from anything that feels bad. If you’re stressed or depressed you’re not thinking about it if you’re eating. Especially if you like food, you are delighting in it. Right? But you know what I don’t like? Having to wear skirts in 30-degree weather because my pants don’t fit but you know what I mean, that’s when you go, oh. Am I feeling better? My pants don’t fit; I wear skirts all the time.
But one thing that I’ll say for sure like when it comes to self-care, is I feel like sometimes everybody has an all or nothing approach. Hearing you say seventeen minutes of yoga, running a mile, doing everything on your list, I go ‘I can’t do that. So I’m not even going to try.’ One thing we say as therapists is to meet people where they are. I finally started working with a coach and she would start saying you know, ten minutes, five minutes will make a difference and I was like, ‘I can’t do that, I’m constantly distracted. I can’t do it.’ And she’s like, ‘You’re right,’ and she actually did some research for me and found me some research that said that all it actually takes to get the feeling and the benefit of time and to get into the discipline — it takes practice is seventeen seconds. If you can linger on a good feeling, and even this whole idea of getting everything on your list done, my coach tells me to imagine getting everything on my list done.
“I think the common theme here is taking care of yourself.”
And sitting in that feeling — it’s so good when I finish those taxes. Goddamn I need that. Before I even get out of bed I’m like, ‘I killed it. I am so ready.’ Then you have the top-down level. That I have power over my situation and I don’t have twelve things on my list and I’m going to get it done. And I still feel really good. Really take the top-down approach. And she was right. I actually set my stopwatch on my phone. Seventeen seconds is all it takes to linger on a feeling and don’t be too attached to the outcome. It really helps to be attached to that mood and the feeling because when you’re attached to an outcome that you’re operating on a deficit because you need it. You need it to happen. Everything is better if you want to do it. Everything comes from love. Need is like the fear. Acting out of fear versus acting out of love and want creates two different results, even if you get it done, one will look very different. Think about something that you knit because it’s something to do versus something that you’re taking your time with. And nobody is going to die. No body is going to die. Your family will still love you. Nobody is going to die if you don’t get these things done, so really just sit in the feeling and take seventeen seconds. And it actually takes seventeen seconds to lead into the next feel good thing. So that’s how I start my day, and this week I got to two minutes and fifty-two seconds.
I’ll pause for a moment.
DG: I learned something really valuable there which is that when my pants stop fitting I’ll wear my skirts.
It’s important though that taking care of ourselves doesn’t need to take all day. Just a short amount of time, be it the morning, the evening can do wonders really. Mindfulness and meditation are in the panel discussion so I think we need to address these. Mindfulness is all the rage right now and it’s on 60 Minutes, someone wrote a book about it, and businesses all over the country are employing mindfulness and meditation for a variety of reasons: to make their workers more productive, to reduce stress, improve focus, and it’s really catching on in a way that it never has in the mainstream before. I think it speaks to this moment of where we are. It says that right now the way we are working just isn’t working and people from the board room to the factory floor recognize that, and the right kind of companies are taking the steps to try to address that. I think it also says that mindfulness and meditation, while once very much fringe parts of the culture and probably viewed as woo-woo, New Age, mystical hooey, are squarely mainstream now, and part of that is the result of a huge body of scientific data that now very much backs up the validity and the impactfulness of certain types of meditation. Mindfulness is certainly one that is out there that.
“Taking care of ourselves doesn’t need to take all day. Just a short amount of time, be it the morning, the evening can do wonders really.”
GM: For my benefit, and maybe for other people’s in the audience, like a quick definition of what constitutes ‘mindfulness.’
DG: sure. So it’s important to note that there are a lot of different types of meditation. There’s mindfulness meditation, there’s transcendental meditation. You can go to The Path and get a crash-course in meditation in the course of an hour. Mindfulness meditation is one of the most popular techniques today. It was popularized in its current fashion by a guy named Jon Kabat-Zinn, who wrote a bunch of great books and is still around, and is the grandfather of this movement. He defines mindfulness as I hope I get this right, paying attention in a particular way on purpose in the present moment and non-judgment of it. And you unpack that, it kind of says ‘stop thinking about the future.’
BA: Say that again.
DG: Paying attention in the present moment, on purpose, I missed a part, in a particular way on purpose, and non-judgment of it. So if you unpack that. Paying attention, or actually observing what’s happening, in a particular way, so we’re not just kind of letting our attention flit about, but we’re actually focused and trying to do something very specific. Paying attention in a particular way, in the present moment, so again, we’re not paying attention to our thoughts about the future or the ruminations of the past. We’re paying attention to right now.
GM: Or paying attention to what’s on your phone.
DG: Absolutely. In the present moment, on purpose, so again this notion of intention, that this is something we’re doing proactively and non-judgmentally and that is really the key of the mindfulness part. And that is the part I think the impact comes from. That it gets us out of this mode of judging that, ‘This is a good experience, this a bad experience.’ Because if we notice what we do all day, it’s that. It’s ‘My feet hurt,’ or ‘My feet feel great.’ ‘I’m hungry,’ or ‘I’m over-stuffed.’ And this constant sense of giving qualitative labels to our experience traps us in the rat race, frankly, of always trying to find the perfect scenario and that leads to a lot of ‘If only I had this,’ or ‘Just imagine what it was like a week ago when everything was just perfect.’ And so that’s Mindfulness 101. It’s been proven over 2,600 years, roughly, that the best way to cultivate mindfulness is through meditation.
“Right now the way we are working just isn’t working and people from the board room to the factory floor recognize that, and the right kind of companies are taking the steps to try to address that.”
So there is this mindfulness meditation, which through a series of exercises very much teaches you how to do that. So there are exercises that actually help you learn how to pay attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally. Over the past 30 or so years, scientists and academics have done a ton of research into mindfulness meditation. What they fund is that in fact it does reduce stress it does improve focus, and in fact, as physiological effects of the body it improves the immune system, for example. And this I think has lent mindfulness meditation in particular a degree of credibility that has allowed it to break into the mainstream.
So Aetna, a big health insurer in Hartford, Connecticut rolled out mindfulness meditation to thousands of their employees and not only that they are offering it as a service to their clients. This is happening in companies all around the world. So that’s mindfulness meditation in brief. It is happening in all sorts of law firms. I went down to a white-shoe law firm on Wall Street and spent two hours with a bunch of associates doing mindfulness meditation not long ago.
And this is just extraordinary that it’s become that much a part of the real mainstream and increasingly the mainstream business culture. So that’s my spiel. And you can read more about it in that book.
GM: What’s your book called?
DG: My book is called — it’s on the stress ball! “Mindful Work: How Meditation Is Changing Business from the Inside Out.” And so I wanted to address that not only to plug my book, but also to point out that these techniques that again, even just a few years ago might have been considered fringe are now really an accepted pat of the mainstream and are being made available in white-collar offices and I think when people tell their friends and their bosses that ‘Hey I need to go to my meditation retreat for my vacation,’ you might get an eye roll but you’re probably also going to get approval to have that space to go do it.
GM: I think the benefit of coming into the workforce now, versus when I came into it, and started in 2005–06, is that over the last ten years we have learned the hard way of the dangers of being always on. You can slowly see, as David says, businesses realize that it’s in their best interest to force their employees to check out a little bit. When I wrote my article I talked to a number of therapists and doctors who specialized in burn-out, and one doctor had reconfigured her practice to only deal with people under 30 because so many of her clients were under 30. It was to the benefit of her practice. And she tied that to sort of the onset of social media and the sense of always having to be on, but the flip side of that is, you know, if you think 15 years ago yoga used to be a fringe thing too, and now, you say I’m going to my yoga class, it’s like ‘I’m going to have a coffee’ so I think what we’re seeing right now is, realizing the price we are paying from the digital lifestyle we are living.
We sort of were the first generation to have this put on us full time and we are the first generation to suffer the effects and we are seeing ourselves implement rules and regulations to keep ourselves from going to pieces before the age of 30 or 40, you know. We shouldn’t all be feeling this at such a young age. This used to be something that people at the end of their careers, at the age of 60 or near retirement would feel and we’re all feeling it so young. So I think there is still stigma against meditation or mindfulness that it’s diminishing, and to your benefit to shrug it off. You do not want to get to the point, where Dina and I were at. It’s a terrible place to be and it’s a hard recovery.
DG: I would say if it’s right for you. I’m not going to sit up and here and proselytize.
GM: If you are here, presumably it’s right for you. Experimenting with it.
DG: I think there is natural curiosity. I’m not one to say everyone should be meditating. I think one of the things that Dina is doing, which is interesting, is presenting a range of types of meditation in a very practical way. It’s very ambitious what you are doing. You are saying these very short exercises can actually have very meaningful lasting impact throughout the day. And they can be drawn on in different situations. Can you just very briefly give a quick synopsis of the 4 types of meditation you teach at The Path and what you think each one can offer each person throughout the day.
“I think all of us are believers in the Work Revolution.”
DK: Yea. Although first, can I take it up a level of different options for burnt out to a high level. I think what we are talking about in the end is disrupting the workday. Look, it’s funny that a lot of us come from the start-up world. TheLi.st emerged as something for people working at start-ups and start-ups disrupts their industries. But no one is really disrupting the workday in a mainstream way. This is about channeling Jessica Lawrence who is runs the new art-tech meet up so I give her credit for a lot of this but she is a believer in the work revolution. I think all of us are believers in the Work Revolution.
In a very high level, David, to put your question in context, I think it’s about doing what you need to do. I find myself increasingly, one way to avoid burnout is to say, I need to get out and I need to look at art. I don’t know what it is. The last 6 months I’m obsessed with going to go look at art. I work work, work, work, work, and you look at art and it’s inspiring and the design is beautiful and it literally makes me better at my job. So maybe yoga might be art, it might be taking a walk. Whatever it is, find your thing and I think we’re increasingly learning that some people work well in 90 minute bursts on, then 90 minute bursts off, then 90 on, 90 off. It might mean we’re just not meant to wok like, you know, 8 am to 6 pm, so I would encourage you guys to figure out what works for you.
To answer your question, so David and I are certainly huge believes in meditation. It works for us. I think it works for a lot of people. At The Path we teach 4 different types of meditation. We basically say all the thousands of types of meditation can be put into four categories. The first would be mindfulness, which David talked about. Which is really good at focus and it’s stress release. The second is Vedic, which is meditating on a mantra, or some people call it transcendental mediation or TM, and that is really good at making you more creative. There’s another type of meditation, which is energizing, so that would be some kind of Kundalini yoga, or martial arts, pranayama breathing, some of you guys may have done that in yoga class where you breathe in one nose, hold it, breathe out. Those are all ways to bring very natural energy into your body rather than having your espresso. And there’s another type of meditation, which will help you accomplish a goal, so it might be to eat less, or it might be to drink less or have less sugar, whatever it is. So because we’re teaching to pretty large groups at The Path we just figure, we’ll choose compassion. We could all use a little more of that in New York, so we teach a type of compassion, or some people would call that Meta meditation. But we’re giving people different types of tools to pull from throughout the days. So if you feel a little tired, you can do the energizing. If you need to focus on the PowerPoint deck or for your start up, you can the mindfulness mediation if you want to be more creative. You can do the mantra. Giving you tools to pull from throughout the day.
DG: Again, very ambitious but they are drawing huge crowds. So I want to turn to the audience very quickly here. But I think it’s a good moment to reflect and so maybe we can just go down the line and hear from each of you one more time. If you could sum it up, what do you think it is at a high level, that is now allowing you to stay above the burn out, if you will. You’re still very busy, you still have a lot on your plate, of course. But what it is that is allowing you to kind of not get pulled down again.
BA: From my perspective as a mental health counselor, by the time people come to me they’re definitely burnt out, and overwhelmed. So I definitely say it should be something as preventative measure. Before you get there. And if it still seems like something you can’t think about. What I’m really trying to do with my company is to not get people in the mental illness or mental health. I always say ‘emotional health,’ because it’s really your emotions that are the problem. It’s usually your emotions that are the issue. Because your emotions aren’t logical. Everybody’s been in love with someone they knew they shouldn’t love your brain is very illogical. You know, emotions aren’t logical. It’s like, why would I feel so strongly about this thing. Conflict is usually between your brain which is logical and your emotions, which are illogical. So what mediation or mindfulness or even just, again, it doesn’t have to be for one time, the discipline, it will come. Seven seconds during the day at lunch or whatever, it accumulates. That’s what discipline and practice is. The reason I think, however, you do it; again, meditation can be running, anything that you are not thinking. Eating can be meditating if you are fully focused in that moment, intentional, and appreciating it. It’s because it regulates your emotions, which again aren’t logical and people have a hard time controlling. So it’s really about attention, emotion, and awareness. All of your problems can be reduced if you can control those things.
“The discipline, it will come. Seven seconds during the day at lunch or whatever, it accumulates. That’s what discipline and practice is...it’s really about attention, emotion, and awareness. All of your problems can be reduced if you can control those things.”
DG: So find your thing and what it is and do the shit out of it. Dina, briefly.
DK: I would say: gain the confidence to be authentic. I was really not authentic at my first company. I never spoke up for myself. Never said what was on my mind. And now I do. So I am okay to ask people on my team, ‘Let me know.’ And I can say, ‘I need help.’ So gain the confidence to be authentic. Don’t feel like you need to pretend you know everything. I think that is actually what caused my burn out for the first time, was not being authentic. So find that confidence to have people, including your team, above and below you, to say that you need help with things when you do.
DG: So do the shit out of your emotional health. Be authentic and…
GM: I think we should all work on the idea that time off is a reward for good behavior or production at work and flip that and think: time off, be it, turning on and off your phone, going on vacation, meditating for seventeen second in the morning, going for a run, whatever it is, is a requirement for good work. That is your priority and everything else is secondary. We need to invert how we think about time off.
BA: One thing real quick because it’s so true. You’re going to do it anyway. You’re going to waste time on Facebook, spend and hour dreading what you have to do. You’re going to take that time off anyway when you’re not productive. So it’s true, make it like an actual part of every day.
DG: Let’s open it up to the audience. Questions, comments, your tips. Please.
Audience Member 1: Two-part question. First, I feel like I know it’s a requirement for good work for me and I try to assert it in little ways every day, but it’s really hard and I’m shocked by how hard it is for me. Even though I meditate on my off time and I’m really good at unplugging when I’m off work, to just like feel like I deserve to take that space when other people aren’t, and comparing myself to, looking like I’m doing less work than other people and that’s where the self-consciousness comes in. So I’m wondering what you have to say about ways to build bravery in that sense. Or maybe even having people approach their bosses to explain what they are doing, and then the quick second part of that question is how have you seen people bring mindfulness to their companies beyond maybe suggesting having a practitioner come in to give a lecture.
DG: I can speak to that but why don’t we have Glynnis on the first part.
GM: When you do good work… I worked at Business Insider and when you do good work that speaks for it. It’s showing your boss that you’re busy is less valuable to them, to yourself, to everyone, than actually doing good work and that will prove out in any business or any occupation that what you are producing is quality. How you are doing it becomes less interesting to the people you are doing it with and for. And then just by bringing the good work, people tend to try and emulate you.
So if you are somebody that does high level work and shows up for work at 10:00 in the morning and takes a two hour nap in the afternoon, believe me, after six months of producing high-level work, a lot of people are going to be following your lead. I think that idea of seeing everyone else is something we all combat every day and it’s easy. I took myself off Instagram for that reason because I felt like it was becoming too much and you could take breaks from it. But the fact of the matter it that it’s actually under your control. You don’t have to look. It’s very difficult not to look. It’s like driving by a car accident every day and just saying, ‘Just don’t look at what’s going on,’ but the fact of the matter is that you don’t have to look. So if it becomes to the point where you are feeling terrible about yourself, stop looking. I realize it’s harder than it sounds but I think it’s quite possible at the end of the day.
“Give yourself what you need. Play the starring role.”
DK: I’ll just say very quickly. I think women especially can start to really internalize that you are the star of your life. So play the starring role. Do what you need to do. Get that time that you need. But you deserve that. You would do it for your best friend, like treat them in this way, so treat yourself in at least as good of a way.
DG: And compassion is a useful lens there of actually being compassionate to yourself. A lot of times when we start doing compassion meditation it’s very easy to be compassionate to everyone else but much harder to be kind and compassionate to ourselves.
DK: But it will give you the bandwidth to be more compassionate to others if you start with yourselves. Give yourself what you need. Play the starring role.
BA: May I ask how old you are?
Audience Member: 27.
BA: Oh, that makes me sad. Because even the therapist who all of her clients were under 30 I’m like goddamn. Really! So yea, there’s a lot going on. I’m actually doing my first Ted X talk about this and the culture of comparison. And it’s more than phone though. It’s like if everybody else is at 100 and you’re at 80, you’ll always be catching up. And it is hard, but it requires discipline and I think that the main thing to do that you have to put into practice is to flip it. I used to always be like ‘Everything’s important. Everything’s urgent.’ I read this book called, I’m forgetting it, but I’ll look it up and text Jill(?). I want to say Essentialism. It says everything is important or nothing is important. And if nothing is important then you can choose what you want to work on.
If you’re already thinking like this then you’re probably a high-performing person and you sound like you’re in a high-pressure situation. It’s all about choices. Nothing is going to happen by accident. To your point about mindfulness. If you’re super duper intentional on where you want to be and feeling in control then you won’t be like the victim of your circumstances. You get to choose this life. You’re 27. You’re so young. You get to choose it. So every day decide what you want to do, do that, and everything else will rise up o that.
DG: I’d like to get to another question, but just briefly I characterize the question is ‘How is mindfulness and meditation showing up in the workplace?’ and I’d say broadly there’s two categories, top-down and bottom-up. Top down is the CEO or senior executive gets religion and decides they want to proselytize. And it’s a little scarier to use the religious analogy, for people their hair stands up on the back of their neck, but it’s true, at Green Mountain Coffee, the CEO was a meditator and said, ‘My employees are meditating.’ The same thing’s happening at Aetna. At Google, employee 7 or 72, Chang Man Tan, said, ‘We’re going to start an emotional intelligence course.’ And bam, Search Inside You was born.
So when you have someone at the very high level and they decide they can do it, they have buy-in, they have credibility with HR, with executives, it’s very easy for it to happen. It may be harder for it to take root and endure because it’s not as organic, but it’s easier for it to go out and move it to scale. At companies like Intel, General Mills, Adobe, the list goes on, it’s been bottom-up. One employee has found that it’s been really impactful. Then they started with just close associates. Other people would notice a change in their behavior and say ‘What’s different? What’s going on?’ And they said ‘I’m meditating. If you have any interest meet me at lunch, meet me after work.’ And they started little sitting groups, little sanghas inside the work place. Those then developed into broader HR-sponsored programs. At Intel, Aetna, excuse me Intel, Adobe, and General Mills, those very small groups now have rolled out and are incorporating thousands of people across offices in all the different countries where these companies operate. So it’s really extraordinary and can go both ways. Let’s have another question.
“People don’t care as much as we think they do. Everybody’s busy. The fact that you’re worried about this — you are all people whose work is important to you. So you’re going to do well anyway.”
BA: We’re actually working on a professional wellness thing, where we’re actually looking for pilots for our In Your Corner to subsidize it, because we do a non-monthly model, so happy, healthy employees.
Audience Member 2: This is kind of question for anyone, I think probably all of you could speak to it. Um, when you find that you’re falling into this reactive pattern of the day, when you’re answering emails and on somebody else’s schedule, how do you navigate out of that and get back to where you are more proactive and intentional.
BA: I have a rule about turning my phone off when I go to bed at night. It’s similar to Dina’s screen. Which is turn off your screens. If you’re at that sort of edge and you really need to draw it back. Turn it off at 7. I guarantee it that one night of turning your phone or your screens off at seven, the world will not end, and if it is someone will come and get you. Probably your neighbor. There’s nothing that’s going to happen that you’re really going to miss but the benefits of literally turning the Internet off for four hours is, or the TV for that matter.
DG: But in the middle of the workday.
Audience Member 2: When you’re in it, and you have bunch of things to do and you’re falling into that pattern of reactivity and you’re like, oh I’m sorting through these emails and responding to these emails and you really have things that you want to get to that are on your list of things to do.
DK: That list, your work isn’t going anywhere. Decide to do one thing on your list.
DG: There are a lot of actually very specific techniques that could be helpful. One of them is stress reduction, which is kind of a formalized introduction to mindfulness, which is available in all sorts of places around New York City, and I highly recommend it. But they actually say in your office, find the one place, which is, you don’t have to call it your mindful area, but it is a place where you stop, and get out of your head.
At The New York Times for me, it’s a particular hallway that I walk few times a day. When I’m in that hallway I don’t look at my phone when I’m walking, I don’t think about the last thing I had to do and the next thin I have to do. I am just trying to feel myself and feel my body and feel my feet taking one step at a time. It’s a physically location that I have associated with slowing down. And those associations with physical place can be really powerful. So if some people do it in the elevators. Some say, ‘When I am in the elevator I am not blabbing with people. I am not listening to the gossip of the people next to me. I am actually just feeling the sensation of my body, moving up the building in the elevator.’ And so that’s one example. Another people use is when the phone rings, pause. So actually don’t just grab the phone. Let it ring three times. And actually just feel your breathe and check in with your intention and say, ‘Who do I think might be on the phone? How am I gong to approach this phone call?’ And just those little tricks, those little habit changers just to slow down in the middle of the day. Those are a couple that people have found useful.
DK: Another think you can do. I have a friend who begins every work day, and I do this after meditation, as one last step, you sit down and write out all the things I want to get done today. It shouldn’t be too long, but little things I have to do today. And that’s when I’ll go and tackle them first.
So I’d like to see people combine them, so go to that place, or at least go somewhere, write down what are the thing is want to do, maybe you take seventeen seconds to meditate to shift your focus, by the way huge props to you for noticing that you’re doing that, because I think that’s amazing. Most people don’t notice that. They just consider that work. So the fact than you see ‘I’m responding,’ that’s a type of mindfulness called noting. And that’s really, really great and you should honor yourself for doing that and then start doing the things you want to do.
Another trick that has worked for friends who don’t meditate is saying in the back of your head, ‘What is the most important thing I can do right now?’ It’s probably not responding to that random person on Facebook or even responding to that email. ‘What is the most important thing I can do right now?’ And you start getting to that mode of telling yourself all day, that gets you into that proactive mode and not reactive mode.
DG: Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s hard. It’s hard. Yeah.
Audience Member 3: This was never like a formal discussion with my husband, except that he always said, ‘No TV in the bedroom, no TV in the bedroom,’ because he’s kind of an insomniac. We have no screens in our bedroom. I don’t ever walk my phone, and when I was working last I had two phones, I don’t ever walk my phone, my iPad, my laptop, into the bedroom. We don’t even make a big thing about it. We don’t talk about it, but neither of us brings any screens into the bedroom. If he’s not there and I like take a nap and it’s easier to set my iphone alarm, I dont’ sleep as wlel, because my phone is in my room. If I’m traveling and I’m in a hotel room I don’t sleep as well because my phone is near me, I’ve gotten so used to there is no one in the bedroom and I think it really helps. And I have my phone Achilles heels and other things but that’s kind of just a really big thing that you can probably easily do.
“‘What is the most important thing I can do right now?’ It’s probably not responding to that random person on Facebook or even responding to that email.”
Audience Member 4: To her point, when I got a new job two years ago, I had become a slave to my previous job and thought I was so junior in my roll, I thought what I’m doing is not so important that I need to be on all the time answering these emails, so when I started this new job I though this I my time to reset myself and set the expectations of my employer. So there were times, basically every day, I would leave my phone in my purse. There’s a whole nights where I go to go to bed and I plug my phone in and I live in a studio so it doesn’t sit in a separate room but I’m like, “Oh wow I didn’t take my phone from my purse at all tonight,” and think that some rules I’ve made for myself are that one, I know that I am not a good home worker and I also don’t want to bring work to my husband. So if I need to work late, I work late at the office, I don’t leave the office and then continue to work at home. Because when I’m home, I’m home with my husband.
And then two, it was really amazing six months ago at my office, we had this nutrition seminar and somebody had mentioned energy and the workplace and all sots of things and we got on the topic of turning your phone off when you got home. And so many people who again, not to downplay their roles or their jobs, but like, aren’t the COO of the company or anything, are like, ‘I can’t possibly turn my phone off.’ I was like ‘But we’re doing the same job. I turn my phone off.’ Nobody dies, to your point. And actually the expectations of my clients and my colleagues are set that I will not respond to you and nobody cares. No body cares.
GM: I think you’re making a really, really important point which is when younger people talk to me about starting new jobs and the expectations which are high and huge and I appreciate. Set those expectations early. Don’t answer that email immediately. Set up times that you do answer. Set the expectation that you are not someone who responds immediately. Just do it. And people will respect that and they’ll just acknowledge that’ just how you work and you won’t be the person they expect to hear from immediately. Setting those expectations prioritizing your own mental health and setting those expectations around it in a reasonable manner at your workplace is very very very important. it’s something I think that when you’re in a somewhat more junior level is something you can do.
DG: We have time for …
BA: Just really quick. People don’t care as much as we think they do. They really don’t. As much are you’re worried about ‘Oh my god, what are they going to think?’ They sent that email off and they expect that you want to get back to them, you know what I mean? I get emails back after three days and I know everybody’s busy. Really, really quick, the fact that you’re worried about this, you are all people whose work is important to you. So you’re going to do well anyway. There are people who just aren’t like that. If you’re worried about this, you’re probably performing at a 90%, in the top like, actually it’s quite the opposite, like in the 10th percentile. Not to call her out, but I hired a woman recently who is younger than me and I think this is her second job and literally works 3 am-5am, 8am-noon, 8pm, literally non-stop working and says, ‘I want to work from home today and I’m like, ‘You’re good,’ you know? Because I know she’s going to take care of it. You’re going to be fine. You’re doing everything. The life is infinite. You have so much time to get it done. You really do. Don’t answer email at three am. She’s a night person; I’m a morning person. I’m a 6 am, she’s a 3 am, and we get it done. You’re going to get it done. It’s trust. Trust yourself, be loyal to yourself, and be good to yourself. You’ll be at optimal performance all the time. Don’t worry so much.
“Set those expectations early. Don’t answer that email immediately. Set up times that you do answer. Set the expectation that you are not someone who responds immediately. Just do it. And people will respect that and they’ll just acknowledge that’ just how you work and you won’t be the person they expect to hear from immediately.”
DG: We have time for one more question. You have had your hand up.
Audience 5: I am a firm convert to The Path, thank you, Dina. I tried to meditate with my daughter’s rowing coach it didn’t stick but this really stuck. Monday morning, every Monday morning.
DK: Every Monday and Thursday now, we double.
Aud 5: Right. Coming in from Westchester.
DK: Are you serious? Oh my God, we love you.
Aud 5: But I have this question. You know, trying to integrate this into my daily life. You and I have had this conversation and I wanted to ask David and anybody else. I want something on this (points to phone).
DG: Headspace is great.
BA: It’s the best.
Aud 5: Headspace you have to pay for, right?
DG: There’s a free option that’s kind of premium.
DK: Gaiam is developing one. You can also set a timer, we can help you.
DG: There is an app called the Insight Timer, which is good for formalizing the meditation and keeping track.
Aud 5: And then making that habit into…
DK: You have to do it right when you wake up otherwise it’s not going to happen. You have got right out of bed and do it. You do it in bed you’ll fall asleep.
DGL: Again, that works for some people, but for other people find it most effective at the end of the day.
BA: At the end of the day?
DG: Absolutely. There are many, many ways to do this.
BA: Yes. There’s every way do to it. Yes. Yes.
DG: Time for one more question.
BA: Or just your own stopwatch. Start at seventeen seconds.
DG: Yeah, please.
Audience 6: I just had a question, I work in news and am kind of curious. It’s a profession where some of these rules might not necessarily work. I can’t set a rule that I won’t look at my email for the first hour of the day
DG: I’m a Mergers and Acquisitions reporter. I write stories at 2 am.
Aud 6: Things in Paris happened last week. I was on the phone at 5:30 in the morning. There’s not really an option to do that when you’re chained to the breaking news cycle. So I’m curious what techniques you’d recommend to people who are in fields or professions where we are sort of chained to external circumstances and we can’t necessarily stick with these kinds of rules of when we can look at email or when we look at devices, since we have to live and abide by those things, so I’m curious if you have things have worked.
“It’s important to take care of yourself and it’s only by taking care of ourselves that can we avoid burning out.”
DG: And Rachel was communicating with me psychically in suggesting that it is also true of parents. I am Mergers and Acquisitions reporter with a 9-month-old girl, so I have lived a hard and unpredictable schedule. A delightfully unpredictably schedule. It’s harder. There’s no panacea, silver bullet. It means it’s just harder when you have an unpredictable schedule.
But I think what Bea said was really instructive, which is that if you are a high performer and you are on call at 5:30, then maybe it doesn’t have to be explicit but set the expectation, give yourself the space, to have time if you are up at 5:30 and working on a Tuesday, and it’s silent on 9 am on a Thursday. It’s okay to be a few minutes late to the office and give yourself time to take care of yourself and if your boss gives you a hard time, maybe have a frank discussion hat says as we all discussed for the last hour, it’s important to take care of yourself and it’s only by taking care of ourselves that can we avoid burning out. On that note, I’m going to wrap it up. I want to thank our panelists. Bea Arthur, Dina Kaplan, Glynnis MacNicol, and very much want to thank TheLi.st and Knoll for hosting us. Thank you all. There’s wine and cheese in the back.
GM: I want to thank David, who’s our first male moderator. Go take some deep breaths everyone. Seventeen seconds of deep breathing.
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