The mental discipline requirement asks for “An essay or journal covering the Dedicant’s personal experience of building mental discipline, through the use of meditation, trance, or other systematic techniques on a regular basis.”
Most of the Dedicant journals that I have seen talk almost exclusively about meditation, so this month I want to discuss one of these other “systematic techniques” that I have been exploring.
Within my professional career, I am looking to make the leap from a technical professional to management. In doing so I am researching some of the aspects of what makes a good leader, and am particularly interested in the concept that is known as Emotional Intelligence. If you are not familiar with the idea, it probably sounds like another flakey Covey-esque business oriented self-help notion. But really it is just another name for mental discipline.
Those of you who work in office environments know that they are politically charged atmospheres, and probably not a day goes by that your ‘fight or flight’ instinct doesn’t get triggered. Letting these instincts take over, however, is the surest way you have to never getting promoted. Being seen as a leader in the workplace requires that you rise above petty squabbling, turn conflicts into collaboration, and not get pulled into power struggles. This is where the notion of Emotional Intelligence comes in. It’s not about suppressing your emotions; it is about recognizing emotional reactions both within yourself and in others. Once you recognize an emotion reaction in yourself it is a lot easier to prevent it from controlling you.
Some of the techniques related to Emotional Intelligence include paying attention to physical signs of emotion reactions and quietly listening to your inner voices when faced with emotion situations, and then regulating the instincts that arise from these reactions. I am finding that that like most things they get much easier the more you practice. Situations that used to make my blood boil and cause me to write mean emails to co-workers explaining all of the reasons why they are idiots now result in me thinking “Oh.. I’m pretty angry about this.” I am then, more often than not, able to use a bit of objectivity and look for real solutions to the situation rather than just further poisoning the work environment.
So there you have it; there are lots more ways to build mental discipline than just meditation.