Reflect and Refresh, by Pierre Zimmerman.

We call ourselves human beings, but we might as well say we are human doings. Most of our time is spent in work projects, relationship management, and related details. Reflection allows us to explore and discern which thoughts and actions will contribute to the services that make any system flourish. Reflection provides a platform to redirect the focus needed for interventions to turn things around for the well being of the individuals and the company with which they are associated.

Pierre Zimmerman Director One Big RoofMeditation, a focus on emotional intelligence and mindful practices in the workplace, can create more balance between doing and being. Reflective awareness maintains integrity, commitment and alignment with the goals of the organization. Social competencies determine how we manage relationships, leverage diversity, influence and build a web of relationships, become change catalysts and enhance cooperation and team building.

About fifteen years ago as the executive director of a specialty hospital, I would invite staff to honor a minute of silence before starting meetings. At first people reacted to having their mental models challenged, but over time people were able to re-set their breath in a natural rhythm and their bodies and minds into a state of regulated functioning: calm abiding. It gave them time to reflect, to bring awareness to their emotions and figure out how to proceed with the agenda items in a manner that provided more stability, flexibility, curiosity and coherence. Meetings became attractive and rewarding!

Reflection is important for understanding ourselves and others. It enhances efficiency and because of this, outcomes are more productive. Victor Frankl, who survived many atrocities in concentration camps, was once asked how he was able to integrate all he witnessed. This was his response: “Between every stimuli and response there is a pause and in that pause lies freedom.” The pause is the refresh. We even have a bio-pause between every in-breath and out-breath. Frankl figured out in the midst of exceptionally extreme conditions and an unsafe environment how to resource himself.

We all need, in our daily busy lives, to call on ways that allow us to recharge our batteries and observe the world from a different perspective. These can include reflection, physical exercise, playtime, hobbies, artistic endeavors and volunteer activities. It is paused time that allows us to move beyond ourselves and embrace passionate activities for not only ourselves, but also everyone’s benefit around us.

Kids are given a “time out” when they cannot stop unwholesome behavior or don’t know when to rest or move on to the next moment. We as adults need to choose and determine a “down time” to replenish ourselves and become more resilient. Self-care keeps us healthy and activates loving kindness for ourselves and non-referential compassion for others.

PIERRE ZIMMERMAN IS DIRECTOR OF ONE BIG ROOF AND AN INSTRUCTOR WITH THE SARATOGA STRESS REDUCTION PROGRAM. This essay recently appeared in the Saratoga Chamber of Commerce “Workplace Wellness Guide.”