Friday, 21 March 2014

Day 71: Masking and warmth

What went well? 

  1. We watched a film in our Buddhism recitation today on the ordination process in a Chinese Chan Buddhist Monastery. The monks interviewed were just so grounded, peaceful, joyful, and full of wisdom that they communicated with true authenticity and compassion. I wasn't feeling great before the class but I left feeling reminded of perspective. There is another way of being, and I don't have to be a monastic to apply these mindsets, as best I can, in my own life.
  2. The newest team member in our positive psychology lab is so, so lovely. She's the kind of person that is such a great team member and so easy to work with.
  3. Got a clear research summary together based on the data I've collected so far for my Buddhism paper. So now the next step is actually to form a clear argument...

What did I learn? 

  • I'm fairly transparent. Even though I'm trying to cultivate warmth, it's still difficult for me to communicate that when I don't necessarily feel that towards someone, and that is a result of being judgemental about their behaviours. The most I can do is to mask hostility as best I can, and maintain a neutral tone and expression. More mindfulness required, to get past the judging. On the other hand, I was again reminded of how important this is, when someone else in that setting did communicate genuine kindness and warmth, when the rest of us were all somewhat aloof. And also, just how contagious attitude and demeanour is in a team setting. Especially the leader's. And how much effort it must take to try and lead consistently with energy and a positive attitude even if you're tired and stressed. It's a huge responsibility.
  • My immune system is down at the moment. I was sitting next to someone who was sick in a lecture today, but thought it would be ok since normally if someone is already displaying symptoms, then they're no longer contagious, but by 2pm I had the beginnings of a sore throat so I think now I have actually caught it and will be sure to rest as much as I can while researching/writing/studying for a test this weekend...contradictory, but possible?
  • Research updates! Here's where I'm at with that paper, in a few pretty graphs:
  • Explosion in popularity of the concept of mindfulness in Western Psychology from around 2002.

    Increasing trend towards “secularisation”, with fewer references to Buddhism/Buddhist or even meditation. This  also suggests that Western psychology's use of Buddhist mindfulness has always been fairly secular as most publications never even mentioned Buddhism/Buddhist.

    Google Ngrams show the yearly count of certain words and phrases in books. Here are a couple:

    Sharp increase in “mindfulness” after the 1980s, which coincides with its introduction to Western psychology/medicine.

    Suggests that the increase in mentions of “mindfulness” isn’t simply due to an increase in mentions of Buddhism. So, it’s really the use in psychology that’s driving the increase in popularity.


  1. Still gobbling up your blogs like food for my soul. :) Jessie, I love the idea of loving kindness. :) It seems like you might be taking things to a bit of an extreme when you are having to mask your own true reactions to things. Authenticity and being able to react quickly and honestly to a behaviour you do not appreciate while still believing the best in a person, to me, would be the best form of loving kindness! You do not have to become a bubbly, fake person. I am glad you are transparent as this is the best form of authenticity. :) Cheers!

    1. Angela, you're absolutely right. Thanks for your words :) I have become a little bit obsessed recently with heightened awareness of how my actions and speech affect others, but I'm starting to realise that warmth and kindness can't be forced, only cultivated and nurtured. And that I need to exercise more self-compassion and mindfulness when I feel like I'm not meeting my ideals. At the same time, it seems that some basic masking is probably required when working with a team, for the sake of the atmosphere and relationships of the team. I don't have to pretend to convey warmth per se when I'm actually frustrated at someone, but I can do my best to avoid expressing actual hostility (e.g. eye-rolling, eyebrow-raising, terse language), which would only be harmful, and perhaps just remain neutral and equanimous. The middle path, I suppose. From a leadership perspective, I do wonder if a team leader has the responsibility of energising their team though, since energy is contagious and there is something to be said for faking it till you make it. Hmm...