One year since I turned my vegetarian diet into “flexi-vegan” (which basically means I am vegan at home and whenever possible, but revert to vegetarianism if I am eating at someone else’s home, or if I am traveling and cannot find foods that would allow me to eat a balanced vegan diet). As a result, I decided to share with you my favorite places to eat in DC. Wherever you are, share yours! Le Pain Quotidien (http://www.lepainquotidien.us/#/en_US/locations) Tons of vegan choices, including dessert (love their chia pudding) and pastries (seasonal scones and muffins). Mains include salads, vegan soups every day, tartines, and their evening menu includes a seared quinoa cake which keeps me coming back for more. The menu specifies which dishes are vegan. Heritage India (http://www.heritageindiausa.com/georgetown.htm) Yummy Indian food. You can eat at the restaurant or order for delivery or take-out. Their menu has a separate section listing their vegan dishes. Ordering made easy! Pizzeria Paradiso (http://www.eatyourpizza.com/ The best pizza in DC, and they have an excellent tapioca-based vegan cheese–yes, it melts! Julia’s Empanadas (http://www.juliasempanadas.com) There’s always a vegan empanada, and fillings change seasonally. Ideal for a quick lunch on the go.
As soon as I saw the front cover of this weekend’s FT Magazine (which reads “The Mind Business: How Eastern Vision is Changing Western Corporate Life”), I put aside all other newspapers, and sat to read the article, expecting lots of things–but not what I found.
The article focuses mainly on the experience of General Mills (the company behind brands like Haagen-Dazs, Cheerios, and Betty Crocker, among many others) with mindfulness and yoga in the workplace. Leaving aside how we feel about big food companies, the article presents the goal of the now 7-year project (known as Mindful Leadership) as quite shallow: “The idea is that calmer workers will be less stressed, more productive and even become better leaders, therefore benefitting the entire organization.” [My mindfulness practice helps me with stress, but the main point is becoming a more present and aware person in every aspect of my life, not a more productive employee.] The same lack of depth in the way mindfulness is approached is seen on another paragraph where William George, a board member of Goldman Sachs is presented as a meditator since 1974 (as an aside, if you have a meditation practice could you stomach working for GS???). According to him: “The main business case for meditation is that if you’re fully present on the job, you will be more effective as a leader, you will make better decisions and you will work better with other people”, he tells the FT reporter.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s great that companies are offering their employees the chance to do yoga and have a mindfulness practice. What worries me is the fact that these practices are simply framed as a gateway to greater productivity, rather than as a means to overall well-being and spiritual development.
The article also mentions how General Mills has started to conduct research into the outcomes of the program, saying, for example, that after one of the 7-week courses they offer “83 per cent of participants said they were ‘taking time each day to optimise my personal productivity.'” Am I the only one who is troubled by the fact that mindfulness is being used to make employees work as better oiled machines?
To finish, the FT says Ms. Marturano (one of the people who spearheaded the Mindful Leadership program at GM) “is not troubled by any apparent contradiction around using compassion to breed better capitalist.”
Absent from the article is any mention of whether mindfulness in the workplace can lead to grater corporate social responsibility, changes in business models, or investment decisions. Yoga and meditation are spiritual practices that can help us become more whole and wise individuals, and maybe–after a lifetime of practice–lead to a glimpse of enlightenment. Seeing them used as the FT describes is deeply troubling.
This is a long way away from the teachings of the Buddha and the yoga sutras of Patanjali.
Hi! I thought it was worth spreading the news that Yoga U is offering this free online seminar on yoga injuries with Judith Hanson Lasater, Roger Cole, Tias Little, Dr. Timothy McCall, Ellen Saltonstall, Julie Gudmestad, Dr. Loren Fishman, and Peggy Cappy, this Saturday, August 25, 2012, 12 pm to 4 pm EDT/9 am to 1 pm PDT. You can register here: http://yogauonline.com/yogaspirit/yoga-injuries-register
Quick question for my fellow mindfulness practitioners: do you keep up your practice when you feel kind of sick? My nose looks and feels like a potato, I can’t stop sneezing and have a splitting headache. I skipped my practice yesterday because I was running a fever and with a foggy head I found it impossible to focus… Any ideas???
It’s been a while since I posted about how the course was going. I went on vacation, when I came back my computer died, and then I had ten days at home without Internet, so I am still catching up with things I need to do.
I finished the course, and have continued with a daily mindfulness practice. I haven’t been able to let go of the CDs, though. I am yet to see how it feels to go for the 40-minute sitting without listening to Kabat-Zinn’s guidance. I’ve been doing a mix of sittings and body scans. I haven’t done the yoga practice Kabat-Zinn offers in the CDs (as I do a lot of yoga already), or the walking meditation.
Some days the sitting feels great, and some days it’s truly challenging (with my mind going in all directions). But I’m very happy I’ve done this, and I am committed to sticking with it. The more time goes by, the easier it’s become to dedicate it the daily time. I have also started cutting myself some slack: if I am travelling, I will do the sitting on the plane (knowing that it has added difficulties, given the noise and movement around you), rather than wating till I arrive at my destination, as I was doing at the beginning.
How about those who have finished the course a while ago? Have you managed to keep it up? I’d love to know what the experience has been for other people.
My yoga practice has given me many things. On the physical level, it has allowed me to more fully inhabit my body. From being a couch potato, I’ve become someone who looks forward to exercise, and who is willing to go outside her comfort zone to try new things (horse-back riding lessons are my latest adventure). I am stronger, and I can feel it. I have also become more flexible. [And these two last things apply both to body and mind.]
My yoga practice led me to enrolling in–and completing–a yoga teacher training that would open up many new doors for me (including mindfulness meditation, one of the most significant practices in my life). In all, I am a happier, kinder, and more self-assured woman.
What has yoga done for you? What keeps you going back to the mat? Why would you recommend it to others?