I have recently been thinking about Acem and its wider responsibilities. An idealistic organisation that aims to work with people to help them deal with the stresses of the modern world is a very important thing to me. When people come to beginners courses in London it seems to me that whilst they have many varied motivations that they usually fall into the category of some form of stress. There are typically between 5 and 10 people on a beginners course (although one ran with 17 recently) and these people I hope walk away at the very least with a thought or insight into how they may react differently to the stresses they encounter in their lives. One of the things I like about being part of Acem is then the care that is given to following up, providing opportunity to refresh, talk and explore the possibilities of the technique. But beyone this what is our wider responsibility is a question I have many thoughts on, and some I would like to share.
One of the key ways in which things seem to be right now is that in modern business organisations people often don’t feel ‘real’. They feel that they work because they have to and that in some ways have resentment about the expectations that are put on them. This is my experience of working within a big organisation. Somehow the bottom line, the £££, are the primary purpose of an organisation and the need to understand and treat employees like people with varied experiences and reactions is lost or diluted.
So what has this to do with Acem? Is this not just the way it is – a world where people are becoming more like ‘work-units’ and less like people? Well yes, there is of course an inevitability to this but I was taken by something that Oxfam stated once. That “lots of small things done by lots of small people can change the world” and I believe this to be true. So when it came to purchasing chairs for the new flat in London, I wondered what could Acem say with this small act? Outside of the suitability of the chair for meditation, it would seem to me that it would be wrong if the only other criteria was the price. As markets become very competitive, price is king. But what do very cheap products mean for the stress levels of those who work in such organisations? I believe we should in Acem do our research such that we should aim to balance our transations such that we maximise our business with organisations that promote well-being amongst their employees. Easier said than done of course, but the internet holds many such comparison web-sites that allow various factors to be taken into account. Take ‘ethical consumer’ as an example. With organisations such as The Co-operative and the John Lewis partnership have well know high ethical standards it is increasingly easy to find them.
I observed a conversation recently at a meeting I went to, no-one knew each other and so the early conversations drifted towards ‘what do you do then?’ and one guy there said he worked for John Lewis. To which the lady asking the question said ‘Oh, I do my shopping there.’ To which the John Lewis employee said, ‘We hope you like what we do.’ He beemed with pride and it was clear he loved working. They connected and chatted, but what I liked was that he used the term “We”, clearly refering to him and his organisation.
Maybe I digress, but my point is that whilst we can have big impacts on small numbers of people through our courses, we can have smaller impacts on many more by supporting organisations that align with our ethics. When setting up the energy suppliers for the flat in london I moved them away from the big energy giants to the smaller energy supplier, Eco-Tricity, they promote the generation of sustainable energy something we will all need if we are to live in harmony with each other. For dependency on fossil fuel energy does not impact the Uk directly at the moment but areas of the world are changing radically causing stress, anxiety and unhappiness for many.
This is of course a simplification of a very complex and big subject, but I come back to the fact that Lots of Small Actions by Lots of Small People will Change the World and we have to start somewhere