Photo credit: At The Feet Of An Ancient Master© by Premasagar [pinit]
Did you know it’s possible to be spiritual even at work?
Yeah, right, Jamie, I hear you say. Dream on! Work is the place I go to slave my butt off for some company I don’t particularly like, where I have to tolerate boneheads, and engage in some of the most mind-numbingly boring activities in my entire life. How the heck can any of that be spiritual?
It’s sad but true that too many people feel like that about their work. What a way to live! Especially considering that at work is where you spend the majority of your life.
If you are a spiritual person, or at least feel some sort of inner urge for something more spiritual, then if you can’t live your spirituality at work you will go through life in such a miserable way. You will carry around with you a subtle, but persistent, sense of inexplicable discontentment.
But listen to me … pleeaassse! It doesn’t have to be like that!
Even if you are stuck in a job that you hate with all your being, you can still turn it into a spiritual practice. All you need are some simple strategies, some tools, and the willingness to consciously choose to live your spirituality at work.
[color-box]The path to enlightenment involves accepting everything about yourself… even the nasty bits! (Tweet this)[/color-box]
You’re going to need to change your perspective… those boneheads in the office that somehow always manage to say just the right thing to get your back up, can become a spiritual blessing for you! They can teach you about yourself. Their annoying behaviour shows to you parts of yourself that you’d rather not see, right? Your anger, your resentment, your bitterness. You don’t want to experience that or let those feelings have anything to do with you, right? After all you’re a good person, a spiritual person!
Huh! I’m afraid it’s not very spiritual if you try to disown parts of yourself! The path to enlightenment involves accepting everything about yourself… even the nasty bits! The liberated soul accepts, experiences, and let’s go of all the negativity that arises from one’s human nature.
Spirituality at work is about welcoming every bit of negativity that arises within you.
Each time you feel frustrated, bored, irritated, or mildly wanting to strangle your boss, burn him alive, and dance upon his charred ashes, that’s when you are doing your most effective spiritual practice! (No I don’t mean burning your boss alive is a spiritual exercise… well maybe in some primitive inhumane practices, but at least not in my book).
When you are confronted with your lower nature, that part of you which originates from our animal evolution, you have an opportunity to strengthen your will and lift your consciousness towards Spirit. Think about it… experiencing spiritual consciousness when you are relaxed and happy is relatively easy. That’s nice, beautiful, and useful to show you that Spirit is there. But you’re not really developing any spiritual muscle. It’s only when you are faced with a real challenge that you start to forge an unbreakable link with Spirit. It’s only when you have to battle with your lower nature that you discover the real power and grace of spiritual consciousness.
Nice sentiment Jamie, I hear you say, but that’s easier said than done!
Well, you’re right. It’s not exactly easy. But if you have at the ready a toolbox of strategies and spiritual gizmos that you can dip into at any moment, then you’ll be able to put this into practice. You should put together your own personal toolbox composed of the things which relate to you and your spiritual background, and which work best for you. Then all you need to do is remember to take this toolbox to work with you everyday.
5 things you can put in your spirituality-at-work toolbox.
1. First up is to get clear on your values.
Maybe that sounds a bit too simple, but in fact so many people don’t give much conscious thought to clearly defining their values. Then they end up doing things at work, hanging out with colleagues, or supporting the ideals of a company that are totally at odds with something inside of them. And they don’t know why they feel an inner conflict with the whole environment where they work.
[color-box]Knowing what your values are gives you a clear guide on what choices to make. (Tweet this)[/color-box]
Having clear values is like having a compass which you can use to keep you heading in the right direction spiritually.
Set some time aside to sit down and think about what your core values about life are. Think about it in relation to who you are and what you stand for. Take account of all aspects of your life, including family, work, and spirituality. Start by making a list of 10 or 20, then try to narrow it down to your top 5. Keep these values in mind or written down somewhere so you can regularly refer to them. As time goes by you may want to modify them.
Now you can compare your top 5 values with what’s happening at work, or which colleagues to hang out with. That will help foster a degree of inner harmony with yourself, which in turn makes it easier to face life’s everyday challenges, and live your spirituality.
2. Practice karma yoga
Although this is terminology from the hindu spiritual tradition, the concept is universal. Karma yoga is the yoga of work, or spirituality in action. The idea is that whatever work you are engaged in you do it for the sake of the work itself, and not for the rewards of that work. What that basically means is that you give all your attention and energy to what you are doing in a positive way. You are not doing your work grudgingly, thinking only that you need to do this to get your monthly pay check. For sure this is much easier if your work is something you love. Then you are totally absorbed in trying to do the best in whatever it is. Your salary is something you need, but you work because you enjoy it and it fulfils you. If you don’t enjoy your work and it feels more like an “evil necessity”, as my uncle used to refer to his job, then you need to find ways to engage with it in a more present way. The following tips can give you some ideas…
3. Practice the presence of Spirit
I have already described this in detail in my earlier post about Spirituality at Home. Just to remind you, this is an exercise for bringing to mind the presence of Spirit, or God, or Universe or whatever name you want to give. Before you start each task say a prayer or affirmation to invite Spirit to be present with you and assist you in what you are doing. At some point during the task, repeat again your petition to Spirit. Then when you finish it give thanks to Spirit for helping you, and offer it up as a token of your love.
Keep practicing this simple exercise with anything you do at work, whether it be a big project or something as simple as photocopying a document. With a little practice you’ll be able to transform even the most mundane activity into something beautiful and uplifting, charged with spiritual energy.
4. Morning affirmation
Try starting your working day with a short prayer, affirmation, or inspiring quote. It could be the same every day, or you could have a new one for each day. Have it written down somewhere at work, on your desk, or on your computer, where you can see it. The first thing you do when you get to the office is read your affirmation. This can work wonders in setting the tone for the rest of your day at work.
5. Recognise how you benefit humanity
Alongside the tools just mentioned is this strategy of changing your perspective. Think about what ways you are benefitting others or humanity at large with your work. Even the most humble of jobs benefits another person in some way. A taxi driver connects people, and facilitates them in achieving their goals and projects. A mechanic ensures that others are safe when driving their cars. A secretary supports others in the company making life that little bit easier for them. Even your smile may change someone’s day for the better. Spirituality at work is as much about benefitting another individual as it is about influencing the wider world.
Now do you see how you can incorporate some spirituality into your working day? So pack some of these strategies into your spiritual toolbox when you go off to work. And the next time you get the urge to casually decapitate one of your colleagues just remember that they are helping you to develop your spiritual muscle (oh and maybe you’ll need to take a deep breath and count to 10 if you don’t want to end up in jail!).
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