The potty-mouthed approach to serenity at work

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In First Hand, FP Work’s Rosemary Counter talks about big ideas with big thinkers. Today, she chats with Nina Purewal, author of Let That Sh*t Go.

Nina Purewal is on a personal mission to move mindfulness and meditation out of hippie yoga retreats and into the places we actually need it — especially the workplace. As we nervously move back into the world, First Hand touched base with the ‘real-est’ and potty-mouthed author about how to turn a new leaf at work, stop bullying yourself and, well, just let that sh*t go. Starting now.

FP Work: Got to say, I love your F-bomb approach. How did that happen?

Nina Purewal: My co-author, Kate Petriw, and I were doing mindfulness workshops in Toronto and she had this great idea of adding swear words to show people that our classes were different and accessible. We started with “Mindful AF” then added “Learn How to F*cking Meditate.” They immediately went viral, I think because meditation can feel so intimidating. You don’t need to go to a temple and sit in silence for a month; you can do it right now at your desk. HarperCollins noticed us and the rest is history.

FP Work: What makes your book different from all the others on the wellness shelf?

NP: The goal was to make mindfulness practical. I’ve studied ancient wisdom for twenty years and I lived in an ashram for a year, but of course I know for most people this just isn’t practical. That doesn’t mean you can’t tap into the same joy and bliss and happiness — you just need to move all the other sh*t out of the way and get back to yourself. Every chapter in the book is really a short lesson about an obstacle to overcome.

FP Work: Can you give me one right now? Something short and sweet, please.

NP: Absolutely! Let’s talk about self-talk. We think an average of 60,000 thoughts a day, but we’re aware of less than one per cent. Meanwhile, 80 per cent of your thoughts every day are negative —whether you’re aware of them or not. I didn’t even realize how many times a day I was sh*t-talking myself. If you stop and listen, I bet you’ll notice that you’re a real a**hole to yourself.

FP Work: I really am! Every time I make even the smallest mistake, my brain calls me a b*tch. How can I stop?

NP: A really good exercise to stop that is to get a piece of paper and write them all down:

I’m a f*****g idiot. I suck at my job. 

Then follow each with some actual evidence. If you’re so bad at work, why did you get a promotion? Maybe you’re not a f*cking idiot after all. But these thoughts have been ingrained in us for years and years, even since childhood. Somehow you got that message and you started validating it, and it became a habit and now it’s your go-to.

FP Work: What advice do you have for a stressed-out person sitting at their desk right now reading this and seeing themselves?

NP: I know it sounds cheesy, but a few deep breaths can work wonders. There’s a studied phenomenon called “email apnea” where people literally suspend their breathing when they read their emails. Can you imagine? They are so anxious that they’re subconsciously denying their brain oxygen to function. But you can fix this as easily as sitting up straight, putting your feet on the ground and taking three to five deep breaths.

FP Work: I’m doing it right now. Thank you.

NP: See? Sometimes it’s actually as easy as just a little reminder. I’m told a lot of people keep the book on their nightstand and read a few pages before bed for a lesson to use tomorrow. And that’s what we’re trying to do, a little bit at a time.

Financial Post

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