By Miku Lenentine
With all of this zooming and other digital interactions, how do we stay nourished, replenished and inspired? How do we access our still point within and move from our center? Here are some tried, tested and true quick tips for bringing more Zen to your zoom experience.
The Zen of Zooming
The key to the Zen of Zooming is: intentionality and presence. Begin by getting clear about your intentions for the online call. Prepare yourself for things to go wrong and take every precaution in advance to set yourself up for success. This way, you can flow with unexpected distractions a little better each time, practicing on your mats, out in the world, and now, yes, even on zoom calls.
What is your role?
Are you in the role of a teacher, guide or leader? Is your role to receive healing or learning? Or both?
What is the container you are consciously cultivating for yourself or perhaps for others?
What key feelings, learnings and experiences do you want to take away or share with others? With crystal clear awareness you can move forward with deep presence, and loving kindness.
The Importance of Self-Care
Set up excellent self-care practices ahead of time. Because we are operating in an advanced-difficulty context (aka COVID 19), we need our self-care practices to be above and beyond basic.
We often hyper-focus and forget our bodily, emotional, and energetic needs. How many times have you thought while on a call or even while working solo at a task, “Oh, I really need to leave to use the bathroom”? How often have you zoomed all day long only to discover you haven’t eaten anything? Do you feel as if you bring your inspired best self to your online work?
Take time to care for the animal part of your being. Practice embodied thought, being present to your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs while zooming. Here are some suggestions for the basics of human self-care!
Embodying your Zoom Experience
- If you haven’t invested in a simple standing desk, now is a great time to get creative and see what you can come up with.
- Intersperse work sessions by stretching stints, by setting a timer at your desk, perhaps even in your browser.
- Set another timer for walking away from your desk.
- Look away from your screen into your environment in some regular interval.
- Prevent eye strain from constant zooming and screen time with eye yoga: https://yogainternational.com/article/view/4-yoga-exercises-for-eye-strain
- Lastly, one of my favorite mindfulness practices: notice how many times that little voice has reminded me you that you are hungry. I practice (and it is a practice) never to ignore my little voice more than three times. In fact, I have promised this to myself. I call this the “Rule of Threes”: If I hear the internal reminder three times, I must stop whatever it is I am doing and honor it.
Dress to Impress
Dress to impress who? Yourself! Dress up for your work, so you can create a clear line between being “on” and being “off”. When you are done with your workday, change back into something casual from of your “online uniform”. Show up on zoom for yourself. In addition to showing up for yourself you could inspire others, getting them in to mood for a practice that you are leading or following. In any case, dress yourself in a way that fills you with a sense of accomplishment and pride for showing up. (Link to Wall Street Journal Article on this for more info HERE)
“Zenning” your Zoom Space
Find a way to make your workspace inspiring and nourishing for you. Try decorating it with images that help you to stay buoyant in dark times or to access humor, even if it is gallows humor! You might consider a sunlight therapy lamp to brighten your space. Bring in plants, candles, crystals, stones and wood elements to remind yourself of nature. These natural objects can counterbalance the draining aspects of technology. Consider aromatherapy. Fresh peppermint and bergamot create an atmosphere that is energizing and inviting.
If you are zooming for a meditation, yoga, or mindfulness session you might consider dedicating a corner of your home for an altar-like space around your computer. Design it in a relaxing way that takes minimal effort to set up.
Entering & Exiting your Space with Intention
Before you enter your zoom space, take a pause. Approach it as you might approach a dojo, an altar, a place where you want to bring in intention and love. You’ve already changed into your attire. You might even create a tradition for yourself of bowing before you enter. Creating this psychological threshold helps you attain the mindset you are consciously cultivating. Think back again to your intention. “What is the container I am cultivating?” Call this intention forth before entering your space. Light a candle or incense.
Equally important is leaving the space with intention. When you are done for the day, or for that particular meeting, create a transition for yourself. Find a ceremony or personal ritual to help you reset your intentions. You might make a gesture or play a certain song. Leave the zoom space behind and come into presence with the next part of your day.
Listen to Music
Cue up your workday music playlists in advance! Explore different themes for different tasks and possibly create a set of day-of-the-week playlists. Starting your meeting with music before voice sets a tone. It helps break up the week and keep things interesting. You might even invite a colleague to play music during breaks in a meeting. Play music between sessions to break up the “hyperfocus” and fatigue that can creep in during back-to-back meetings.
Turn Off The Camera Whenever You Feel Like It
Digital connection can be quite lovely if you can make yourself feel more at home. Give it a try! Find ways to be yourself, to stretch, to make yourself food, to close your eyes and lay on your back for a minute, whatever you like. Or maybe even dance! By simply turning off the camera, you’re signaling to other participants that you’re taking care of yourself and politely disabling your visuals so that you don’t distract others.
One great technique that I’ve seen is to rename yourself as “(Your Name), Listening Only Today.” Then you know you will not be called on if you just want to relax and simply listen (if that’s acceptable for the group you are joining).
The Wisdom & Method of Zen Zooming
In addition to intentionality and presence, Zen Zooming requires creating a SAFE space to practice in. Just like anywhere else in the world, before we drop into an open and undefended space of meditation, yoga, or dialogue with colleagues, we need to make sure our container is safe. This last aspect of Zen Zooming is to set yourself up for success with all the proper precautions in place.
We can hold the greatest intentions in the world, light incense, create an altar in front of our laptops, and chant the OM before commencing our Zoom session. However, I have discovered from a highly unpleasant personal teaching experience that if we do not attend to precautionary security measures, we may invite unsavory visitors to our Zoom sessions. There are things we can do to protect ourselves.
In my personal experience leading a NON Still & Moving Center class, I had unfortunately posted the zoom link in a Meet-Up post. I did not follow my usual security protocols. I fortunately had taken the precaution to “spotlight” myself so none of my students realized we had a zoom-bomber during the class. When the unknown student joined in the class and later turned on their video, I had to scramble to remove them from the class, report them to zoom, all while still teaching!
Following my own practices for high-difficulty situations, I managed to stay composed, so that I didn’t pass the charge of the situation on to my students. Especially, when we are leading others to come back to their center, we need to maintain our own.
And we also take every precaution to avoid such situations in the first place.
- Keep zoom link private and exclusive to vetted participants. Zoom links available to the public cannot be trusted.
- Only send zoom links to registered participants, and send the link close to the time of the meeting.
- Have an extra set of eyes for added security. For example, Still & Moving Center always has support staff in the background of every zoom meeting.
Stillness in the Midst of Chaos
Even with all the proper precautions, you may be caught off guard by technology failures or home distractions. The more you practice staying calm while 15 motorcycles drive by during your turn to talk, or while a child unexpectedly comes to say hello to you during your meeting, the more you will handle these surprises with grace and love. This opportunity for high-level mindfulness practice can hone your skill set, so that one day you may find yourself centered and calm in the face of any of life challenge.
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This post is also available in: 日本語 (Japanese)