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Monday, February 25, 2013

Call for calm

Imagine the stress faced by students at the nation's top universities, particularly one as competitive and proud as Harvard.

Now imagine the pressure on the people who have to deal with them -- faculty, administrators, other Harvard employees.


Ouch.

To ease the stress of administrative staff, Harvard's Office of the Executive Vice President announced three initiatives:

-- A six-week mindfulness at work class created by Jon Kabat-Zinn, creator of the popular Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.
-- One-hour workshops that can serve as refreshers for those who've taken the six-week class or as introductions or respite for others.
-- A staffed meditation "hotline."

The announcement says:
Finally, we have created a Guided Meditation Line, 4-CALM.  This telephone line, still in the beta phase, is live and waiting mindfully for the stressed masses to call for three- and four-minute guided meditations, pointers to other Harvard resources, and regularly changing reflections on stress and resilience.
I tried to find more details on the Guided Meditation Line because I was intrigued. No luck. Not even enough digits to make an outside call possible.

But with a little practice, you can be your own hotline. Feel a need for some calm? Find a place where you can sit without interruptions -- pick up your phone and call your answering machine. Notice your breath. Notice if it gets stuck anywhere in your body, if there are areas of tension. Know you can let it go. Watch your breath, treat your mind like a friend, and just be.