SIY Leadership Institute 28-day challenge: Day 3 (Meeting Jan Karski)

Two-minutes of meditation on the metro this morning. I set the timer on my phone, focused on my breathing, and imagined the train noise as a white sound cloud enveloping me like a fog. The whole thing was a little trippy. I’m curious enough to keep going with the daily challenge.

At the leadership training last week, we participated in mindful walking. Imagine the scene on Georgetown’s campus – 100+ people exiting a building, then walking slowly in all directions. It looked like the zombie apocalypse. Prospective students and their parents visiting the campus looked confused. Their enthusiastic Hoya tour guides pretended they didn’t see us. The courtyard cleared out quickly.

My walking meditation took me to a corner of the campus with a small pond, the sound of rushing water, and the strong scent of petunias. Seated on a bench was a life-size statue of Jan Karski, a name I didn’t recognize. Below is the accompanying plaque:

The line, “The man who told of the annihilation of the Jewish people while there was still time to stop it,” landed on my heart hard and gave me pause. I thought of climate change.

I learned later that when Karski met with FDR to tell him about the mass murder of Jews in Poland, the President never asked about the atrocities or the people, only about the condition of horses in the country.

Discovering Karski was unexpected. Or perhaps such encounters are actually the norm for a contemplative walker. I need to pay attention. Jan Karski is a reminder that if we just look around, we are surrounded by examples of greatness.

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Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute 28-day challenge: Day 2 (Ignore the Heavy Breathing)

It’s Monday. This is where it gets real. How do I bring mindfulness and meditation to work?

Today’s SIYLI prompt was to take three mindful breaths. My reaction was, “Really? That’s it? Seems like a pretty whimpy challenge.” Enter the inner critic voice that loves to ruin a party. I decided to save the breathing exercise for the metro ride to work. The accompanying reflection prompt was to “notice the impact.” Not sure there is much impact to report other than likely scaring the poor guy sitting next to me with all my heavy breathing.

More meaningful was using the loving-kindness meditation from yesterday and taking a couple of minutes to wish love, peace, joy, and health to each of my staff by name before I got to work. This actually did have impact. I felt a slight shift towards lightness of being when I entered the office. Seems like the heavy breathing might be paying off.

I know I haven’t connected this to feminist leadership. Stay tuned!

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