How Meditation Helped Me Get Over Being Fired
I discovered meditation before I was fired, but I didn’t put it into practice until much later.
I’ll never forget losing my job.
“We’re letting you go Bryan.”
My boss slid a white envelope across the table. “Here’s your notice.” I felt like taking the envelope, ripping it up and throwing it at him.
“I left a good job to come here,” I said.
“This is hard for me,” he said. “So I know it must be hard for you.”
I bit my tongue. How could this be hard for him when I was the one losing a job in the middle of a recession and me with two small children?
“When do I finish?” I said.
“You can stay till the end of the month,” he said.
I walked out of the meeting and got into my Renault Clio. Then, I punched the ceiling and swore as loudly as I could get away with, in a business park, at 14:23 on a dreary, wet Monday.
Afterwards, I drove home and told my family. Three months previously, I found out the job wasn’t going well during a performance review.
In a quiet room away from my colleagues, my boss explained I’d missed a deadline and caused confusion for another member of the team. “You need to put that education into action,” he said. I accepted I’d made mistakes.
There was an important report with typos; a presentation with incorrect slides; a meeting with a client I’d missed. There was so much to learn. “Just give me time,” I said.
After that meeting, I bought a popular book about productivity and implemented almost every strategy. I reread my boss’s emails, searching for actions I’d missed. I sent the management team weekly updates of what I’d accomplished.
I even pinned a quote from Viktor E. Frankl’s Man Search For Meaning to the wall near my desk. It read:
“Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now.”
Back then, I considered meditation as a way to focus on work and become a model employee. Now, I was left with no job and an intimidating new practice that demanded I sit and breathe.
I refused to sit and breathe for weeks.
The Power of Consistent Practice
After getting fired, I stopped meditating for a while.
Then, I received a rejection from a new job I was perfect for. Worried about money, I argued with my wife. Later that night, I went downstairs and sat down on a large red cushion. I took a deep breath and clasped my hands.
I meditated on the faces of my family and thanked them for their support. I meditated on the faces of people I worked with, and I wished them well in their careers.
Finally, I meditated on the face of my old boss. I could see his pale, lined face, his crisp white shirt and his wavy dark hair.
My hands tightened, my foot began to ache and a line of sweat ran down the small of my back. “I forgive you for letting me go,” I said quietly.
I’m not going to lie. Ten minutes of meditation didn’t siphon all my anger about that job, but it pierced a hole and enough of it eased out so that I could sleep. It took me another six months to find employment.
Several weeks into a new role in a profession I didn’t expect, I thought of my old boss and the pressure he was under from his boss. I thought of how he didn’t have to give me holiday pay, of how he didn’t have to write me a good reference, and of how he did all of those things.
I saw the mistakes I’d made and the role for what it was — one I wasn’t built for — and about how all of it was okay. I could learn to let go, too.
Finding Time to Meditate
Like me, you might struggle to find time to meditate at first.
I was talking to a friend about meditation recently, and he complained he couldn’t squeeze another 10 minutes into his already overloaded morning. I get it. Starting a new habit or practice can feel like one more item on a lengthy to-do list.
Still, it’s worthwhile finding time for some practices, even if it means pushing others down your list of priorities.
It’s one most popular meditation apps, but the company behind it also spends a lot of time investigating the science of meditation. It worked with the College of Policing in the United Kingdom and conducted a study of approximately 1,300 participants in five different police forces.
The study found meditation is associated with improved job performance, increased well-being and resilience.
In summary: meditate now and you’ll perform better later.
I recently interviewed Dr. Megan Jones Bell, chief science officer at Headspace. I wanted to know how busy people can find time to incorporate meditation into their daily lives. She told me,
“If you walk for 10 minutes, you could take a mindful walk. It doesn’t need to start with eyes-closed meditation.”
Inspired by this advice, I now incorporate mindful walks into busy days and occasionally even the odd mindful run.
“You could try a wind down exercise that has a short mindfulness-based activity and technique that helps you turn your mind off for the evening. It could be taking a mindful run with one of our audio guided runs that we’ve made with Nike. There’s multiple front doors into this practice.”
I’ve long since left getting fired behind, but the practice of Meditation remains and is a valuable part of my daily routine.
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