I just felt the tension – in the room and in my body. I was sitting in a business meeting that became more contentious than expected. Differing opinions were leading to terse words. The discussion was going nowhere because few people were listening. Hidden agendas became slightly less hidden, still subtle, but becoming more obvious. Overall the feeling was icky to me.
I found myself clinging to attachment to the outcome of the discussion. I became focused on finding the words and strategy to affect the outcome. Finally, mindfulness practice kicked back in. I turned inward to observe. I felt the tension through a clenched jaw. My shoulders were tight and elevated. I observed longer and noticed my breath was shallow as the tension and clinging seemed to tighten around my torso.
Observing the clinging through physical aspects of my body led to the second part of mindfulness practice: letting go. “Soften,” I thought to myself as I exhaled away tension in my jaw. “Let go,” I told myself as I released tension in my shoulders and let go of my attachment to the outcome of the discussion. I lengthened the duration of my exhales. “Let go.”
I worked internally on letting go of my attachment to the meeting outcome as I breathed mindfully, lengthening my exhales. The meeting continued. I listened as an observer, without judgment. I felt better for releasing the tension and letting go of the struggle. I felt better for recognizing that there are things I cannot control. Mindfulness practice helped me to recognize that in the end the outcome will unfold as it needs to. I contributed to the discussion and can let go of emotion, tension, and clinging to the outcome.