May 1, 2009

Visit Yourself At Work: Professionals Find Peace in the Workplace

After completing her Master’s in Public Policy and her MBA at University of Maryland, 31-year-old Klia Bassing felt as if her work at the World Bank wasn’t really making a positive impact. So she read a book, Find Your Career In Business. The author suggested she make a list of all the people she was jealous of. Her list included: painters, people who make music in groups, and her meditation teacher, Tara Brach, of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington. “Well that doesn’t really help,” she thought. “I can’t do any of those things for a living.”

Almost three years later, she is the founder of “Visit Yourself At Work,” a program designed to teach mindfulness through meditation in the workplace. She teaches five-week courses emphasizing attention to breath, bodily sensations, thoughts and emotions during lunch breaks at the National Academy of Sciences, The Washington Post, Discovery Channel and the World Bank Group, to name a few.

“I noticed an age gap at meditation classes I attended – there were some young people in their twenties and early thirties and people in their fifties and older, but a lot of parents and professionals weren’t making it to evening classes,” Bassing explains. “I wanted to teach at workplaces in order to make mindfulness teachings accessible to professionals without a lot of leisure time.” It turned out that the community was hungry for this as well: 53 people signed up for her first class at the National Academy of Sciences and there were people on waiting lists at the World Bank.

Bassing realized she could do a lot of good by targeting people who make important decisions. By helping these professionals cultivate “the natural goodness that we feel toward others in mindfulness practice,” she hopes to help not only Washington residents, but all the people influenced by their decisions.
Despite initial challenges (one student thought she was teaching about medication instead of meditation), Bassing is finding fulfillment and joy in teaching mindfulness. Her students are profiting, too – they report decreased stress and an awareness that things like lost metro cards are not such a big deal. Bassing is now taking Visit Yourself at Work national. In explaining her path thus far, Bassing says, “I just want to be a grateful servant to whatever it is that moves me to benefit people.”

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