You know the person. They come in and the mood of the office drops. Their eyes are heavy and there's no pleasant greeting when they arrive at their desk. In a couple of minutes they will either a) spill a long story of stress, inadequacy and injustice about their current work (and, probably, personal as well) situation or, b) they just let out long, dramatic sighs, loudly clack at their keyboard and sink lower in their chair as they move through e-mails, waiting for you to ask them, "What's wrong?" They are the office Eeyore.
You want to help. But, you also know this is a slippery slope. Already their productivity for the day is shot and that once you're drawn into the conversation, you could be pulled down too. On the other hand, where's your empathy if you don't at least check in with this person? Shouldn't you try to cheer them up?
I've found a few yoga strategies that you can take from the mat and infuse into the office. Next time the office Eeyore walks in, employ these off the mat tips before engaging in conversation.
OFF THE MAT
First things, first: breathe. Your own well-being should not suffer from exposure to negativity. Take a moment to find fresh oxygen and check your own stress-level before engaging with this person.
Secondly: practice detachment. This person's situation is likely not related to you as a coworker or even as a friend. Don't allow yourself to feel responsibility for their feelings. Detach your own emotions from the situation. And, most importantly in the workplace, use the idea of detachment to create a buffer zone to ensure that this bummed out coworker doesn't negatively impact your performance.
Third: open your heart! Positivity and authenticity are contagious! You can't change Eeyore, but you can change your reaction to him/her. Just as negativity can pull you down, positivity can build others up. An encouraging word, smile or even a friendly joke can work wonders.
ON THE MAT
Lay down in supta baddha konasana (reclining bound angle pose), with the souls of your feet together, your knees open wide and your spine comfortably on the ground. Place one hand on your belly and one on your heart. Close your eyes and feel the rhythm of your breath as it lifts and lowers your abdomen and chest.
Stand at the top of your mat, preferably in the mirror, and assume tadasana (mountain pose). Identify yourself in the mirror. Then, close your eyes. With your eyes closed take yourself away from the vision of yourself in the mirror and focus on the feeling of the pose in your body. YOU are not simply what you look like. Practice detachment by pulling away from the aesthetics of a pose, and tuning in to the feelings of a pose.
Assume anjaneyasana (low crescent lunge), and find a small backbend. You can use goal post arms to begin. Then, if you're open enough, straighten your arms behind you (pictured above). Take your attention to the lift in your chest, as opposed to the angle in your spine.
What helps you cope with the Eeyores in your life?
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