Onscreen glows an illustration of a stately tree, wide of trunk, infinite of branches. My ears take in the even voice of the woman facilitating this meditative moment. She and I, along with a number of my colleagues, have filled the school cafeteria on an in-service day.
I am that tree, she is telling me: my roots reaching deep into the earth, an immovable grounding force; my strong limbs stretching expansively toward light above. I hear a curious whirring. My eyes are open, gazing at the projected tree, so I dart them in the direction of that unexpected noise.
A large bearded man wearing a baseball cap has climbed up a utility ladder and is wielding an electric screwdriver to fasten something to -- or unfasten something from -- a drop-ceiling panel. (That might be a camera bubble he's working on, I realize, a more intrusive kind of mindfulness.) The tool whines an extra beat, then cuts out, the man taking in the room's quiet vibe. Almost sheepishly, he tiptoes down from the ladder, and I can see his coworker still steadying the ladder shoot him an eyeroll. They stand opposite each other, miming patience, their respective hands folded on top of the table between them. They wait.
I notice the subtle lifting and falling of their chests. I sync my breathing with theirs. I'm not the tree anymore; I'm people with jobs to do whose work might feel more urgent than it actually is.