Metta at work

Buddhist mind training is about transformation of our mind. The primary focus is our internal mental state. Cultivate a healthy one to experience happiness.

Sometime people mistakenly set unrealistic expectation upon themselves. They become discouraged even before they give themselves a chance to practice.

For example, people often say that they cannot meditate because their mind cannot be still. Expecting our mind to be immediately still is unrealistic.

When we take medicine. We don’t say ‘I won’t take this pill because I won’t get well immediately.’ Instead we take the full course until we recover. Practice is like taking medicine. We practice until we become enlightened. We meditate until we can be still.

When it comes to practice of loving kindness in the office or at work. People may quickly conclude that it is impossible. How can we give unconditional love to our competitors at work. If there is only 1 room for promotion, I wish to be the one being promoted. I have to be fierce and competitive. Don’t expect me to be the sacrificing mother giving unconditional love…

Again, this is setting unrealistic expectation upon ourselves. There is no requirement for us to be saints immediately. We cannot do anything in life if we keep on self defeating.

Why do we need to practice loving kindness? According to the sutta, it makes our present and future life a happier one. Including our afterlife.

Loving kindness simply transform our mental energy to a higher state that is in tune with happiness.

One simple way to practice loving kindness at work, is to start the day wishing that all my colleagues will be well and happy for that day.

So I will be riding the subway, and mentally I will be wishing fellow commuters well and happy in their day.

While my computer is starting up, I will be wishing my colleagues well and happy. Yes including those that ‘stepped on my toe’ the day before.

It is really a simple but powerful practice. Doing that doesn’t mean i have a halo hanging over my head.

I wish my competitors well and happy. However, that doesn’t mean I stop competing. Instead of wishing to see my competitor fail. I spend my energy focusing on doing my job well. That is my duty anyway.

It doesn’t mean that people don’t cross my path anymore. It definitely doesn’t prevent people from backstabbing me. I still get irritated and angry. However, my reactions will be more composed. I am not perfected yet. That is ok. However, I can choose to control my mind so that anger do not harm me as much.

I used to get angry to the point of feeling myself trembling and burning. The heart feels tight and you feel like you have to smash something. Metta help to cool me down a lot. Being angry is not really helpful. Being aware that anger is brewing and being able to take back the steering wheel to plan the next step is far more useful.

We can still be disappointed if we don’t get promoted. However, we do not get sour. We move on. This is made easier when we practice metta. We can even sincerely wish our competitor success. When we do that, it doesn’t mean we stop competing….

Practising Metta does not make us a ‘fool’ in the mundane world. Instead we are wise because we prioritise our mental health and do something about it. We practice.

May all be well and happy.