Why an Entire Car Dealership Started Meditating
On a sunny Tuesday, 30 employees of Beyer Ford in Morristown, New Jersey, have gathered in the light-flooded showroom to learn the basics of meditation. Underneath a canopy of balloons—bunches of them in Easter egg shades—are mechanics in head-to-toe black, cheerful customer service reps, assertively groomed salesmen. Everybody could use a little peace, according to owner Bridget Beyer, because an auto dealership is the polar opposite of nirvana: "You're busting your ass to meet your numbers every 30 days. It's like, 'Get it across the curb, get it done, get it done!'"
"You go from hero to zero just like that, and a lot of people can't ride the bull," says salesman Ralpha Twam, who began practicing meditation two years ago with a YouTube video set to Australian didgeridoo music. Regina Krauza, assistant manager of the service department, says the business isn't much fun for mechanics, either: "Nobody's happy to see us when they're spending $1,000 on tires."
Sluyter asks the crowd whether they found the meditation relaxing, and a forest of hands goes up. "Yay!" he says, beaming. (A former hippie, the sport-coated Sluyter—author of Natural Meditation and several other books that "bring meditation to Main Street"—puts a big picture of himself on his flier, so everyone can see he has a normal haircut and doesn't wear a white robe.) "Other impressions?" Manny Perez of facilities management, whose first name is stitched jauntily on his khaki shirt, volunteers that even though the practice required nothing more than breathing, "I imagined a samurai on a horse. It felt good."
Keep meditating, and you can find inner stillness even in the car business, says Sluyter. "When you're dealing with a customer—thinking, Are you really gonna kick the tires again?—just settle your awareness on the feel of the ground you're standing on. Take a breath. No one has to know." He also recommends his no-fail mantra: "Just say 'Whee!' You can't say it without smiling, and when you smile, you change what's happening in your brain." He prompts everyone to try it on the count of three, and they give him a tentative "Whee!"
Beyer takes the mic. "When someone is in your face and being really obnoxious," she says, "think of these as meditative speed bumps." She takes in some air and lets it out again in a whoosh, then smiles with her eyes narrowed just a little, like she's about to close the deal of the century. "And make it loud, so they hear it. Because maybe they'll take one, too."