Meditation & Matrices

This week started off with a fifteen-hour work day. The Liberia proposal was due and those of us working on it stayed late to make sure it was formatted correctly and that everything across the documents was consistent—no easy feat when four people have been contributing to the project. Although I hadn't planned to work fifteen hours on Monday, it ended up being kind of fun, mostly because my boss forgot about the time difference, (the proposal was due on U.S. Eastern Time, six hours behind Geneva time) so she kept hovering around us wondering why we weren't at all concerned that we were five minutes away from the "deadline" and still editing the formatting of the document. (Don't worry, we submitted it on time.)

Tuesday was nearly as chaotic as Monday, despite the fact that the Liberia proposal was submitted. We had another proposal due Friday, so it was back to the grind right away. Even with the rush to finish the new proposal, however, Karen felt it was necessary for us to take a minute to meditate and focus our minds. Ron, a friend of IBJ who has been in Geneva this week helping with some creative projects, led us in a meditation session. He urged us to think about the purpose of meditation, something I thought I understood. I thought meditation was to relax you and to clear your mind. And to some extent, it is. More than that, though, Ron explained that meditation is about learning to be gentle with yourself; each time our thoughts stray from your breathing, bring your mind back gently and without judgment. He explained that when people are more gentle with themselves, they manifest this gentleness to others, and eventually they become more open, attracting others to them like a light. 

I had never considered the concept of "manifesting gentleness," and it really struck me that this is, after all, the whole point of the work we do at IBJ. We manifest gentleness to those who are shown none by the legal systems of the countries in which they reside. One of the many things I am thankful for after having worked at IBJ for eight weeks now is that I am constantly challenged to think of things in different ways and to push myself to try new things. 

One of those new things I tried this week was creating a logic matrix for the new proposal—not as fascinating as meditation, perhaps, but equally as useful. In writing proposals, we usually start off by creating a logic matrix that shows the connection between our objectives for the project, our proposed activities, and the outcomes resulting from those activities. Logic matrices are tedious to make and they have to be precise. They set the tone for the whole proposal and they are the rule against which the proposal is measured. Before this week, if you had asked me what a logic matrix was, I would have answered, "no idea." Now, after having drafted and re-drafted and re-drafted the logic matrix for the new proposal, I feel like they've been imprinted onto my brain forever, changing the way I think and the way I write. I'm not sure exactly what my goal was when I left Williamsburg to come to Geneva, but I'm happy to say that my experiences here—be they meditation or matrices—have changed me for the better.