Sunday, November 9, 2008

Practicing at work

Awake at Work by Michael Carroll offers, as its subtitle puts it, "35 practical Buddhist principles for discovering clarity and balance in the midst of work's chaos". Sounds pretty good, right? Of all the things that go on in my life, work is when I feel the least yogic. So often at work, I find myself goaded into gossip and malice. I become frustrated and lose track of my center. I speak without thinking.

Carroll suggests that this is precisely the reason why work is the perfect environment to cultivate one's practice. Of his own working life, he says "The daily grind, the successes and failures, the hard work and stress, all gradually unfolded as a profound teaching. And central to that teaching was the realization that the spiritual path is nothing other than living our very life, fully and confidently, in the immediate moment... Work becomes our spiritual journey when our destination is no longer just becoming more successful or more wealthy or getting a paycheck, promotion, or job security, but when we also work to resolve a most fundamental question: Can we be at home in our lives - can we be open, honest, and at ease under all circumstances, moment by moment?" He goes on to acknowledge that work is frustrating for many people because it is something that we cannot control, that inevitably unfolds in its own way, messy and complicated. However, he suggests that if we stop treating work's problems as obstacles, but rather as invitations to wake up and pay attention, we can find "a profound sense of freedom and fulfillment in our jobs." I want that!

Carroll proposes a couple of practices for cultivating mindfulness at work. The first is to develop a regular mindfulness practice; he suggests daily sitting meditation practice. I have always had good intentions regarding the development of meditation practice; however, this hasn't ever turned into an actual practice for me. Life ~ as it likes to do ~ keeps reminding me. In my last post, I talked about how every moment is a good moment to begin again. It is clear to me that a regular meditation practice will help me to move forward with my practice at work. I even wrote it into my learning plan for school. I guess now's the time! We'll see how that goes.

The second practice is the contemplation of slogans, adapted by Carroll for the modern workplace from those used in lojong, a Tibetan Buddhist spiritual practice. I'll be referencing Carroll's slogans as I explore them in this blog and in my own life.

Again, we'll see how that goes... :-)

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