One of the biggest opportunities to feel a greater sense of meaning in your work, regardless of whether you love your job or loathe it, is to make work a spiritual practice.
A few weeks ago I posted about using time in traffic as a personal growth practice. The idea was that the time we spend behind the wheel is often a microcosm for a lot of the work we need to do on our life at large.
It’s the same at work. If we’re conscious and aware of the opportunities – and willing to work with them – work can be a powerful place of personal and spiritual growth.
Making your work your spiritual practice takes you out of the smallish perspective of me, me, me and creates an opportunity for your work, whatever that work is, to be about something greater.
Before I go any further, I want to be clear about three things.
First, I have no agenda as to what spirituality should mean for you. That’s 100% yours to define. My role here is to offer up some ways to start exploring and making this idea your own, not to give any definite opinion on what spirituality is or isn’t.
Second, none of what I’m going to describe here involves expressing your spiritual beliefs to any of your co-workers. You can use work as a powerful spiritual practice without anyone ever realizing it.
Finally, I encourage you to tailor this model to make it your own. Use the framework I offer here as a starting point, not a something set in stone. Take what works, leave what doesn’t, and add what’s missing.
A model for work as a spiritual practice
As I was preparing for this post, I spent a lot of time pondering what the pieces of the puzzle are when it comes to making your work a spiritual practice. Yesterday, I distilled it into the following model.
My goal here is to give you a way to think about approaching work as a spiritual practice that you can customize to make it relevant to your own spiritual views and experience.
I will share more specific ways to apply and practice this in future posts, but first I want to outline the overall framework.
Your Spiritual Self
At the heart of the model lies what I think of as your Spiritual Self. This is something deeper than the chattering ego. It is the source of the “still small voice.” It is the place of deep peace.
You might call it the Self (with a capital S to distinguish it from the small-s self of the ego). You might think of it as soul. You might simply think of it as the space of Love and Peace you experience in the deep silence. You might think of it as the inner light.
It’s the place where you connect with God, or Spirit, or Source, or the Divine, or the Great-What-Is, or whatever way of thinking about it resonates with you.
Build your foundation
As I mentioned earlier, I’m not presenting this from the point of view of any particular dogma or belief system. Here’s where you make the model your own.
In this part of the model, you get clear on your own perspective. What are your spiritual beliefs? What does it mean to take those beliefs out of the intellectual and philosophical and actually live them? What are the spiritual principles you use to guide your actions and decisions?
This is an important piece of the puzzle, because it’s the foundation you’ll be standing on in all the rest of your efforts to make work your spiritual practice.
A vital aspect in treating work as a spiritual practice is staying present to what’s happening in the here and now. Only when you’re present and aware can you skillfully notice and take advantage of opportunities to make work your practice. And much of what takes us off the spiritual path is our ongoing immersion in non-now thoughts and responses.
As I ran through different ways that work can present opportunities for spiritual practice, I started to see several main “practice points.” The practice points are areas where opportunities both to practice your spirituality and to grow show up in abundance. .
Other people offer a big opportunity to embody your spiritual practice. Our interactions with others are where we shine, as well as where the work we still need to do is glaringly obvious.
The people around you provide an opportunity to practice love, compassion, patience, generosity, service, and a bazillion other concepts that align with what it means to live your spiritual beliefs. They also provide opportunities to see clearly where you’re out of alignment.
The work you do, how you do it, and the attitude you take towards it can also offer an opportunity for spiritual practice.
If there’s anything that makes us ripe for spiritual growth, it’s change. Most of us have some degree of challenge navigating change. We resist it. We cling to the old way. Treating work as a spiritual practice encourages us to let go of that resistance.
The constant flow of change in the workplace, and in the world that those workplaces operate in, provide opportunity after opportunity to practice the peace of letting go.
The thoughts and responses you encounter in your own mind as you go about your day can also be a prime point for spiritual practice. Where are they out of alignment? Where are they in alignment?
When it comes to opportunities for spiritual development, the problems you encounter are some of your biggest gifts. Problems offer the opportunity to ask, “How can I engage this more skillfully? How is this helping me grown in my spiritual practice?”
Far from being a monkey wrench in the works that gets in the way of “being spiritual,” problems are the path.
Reminders & Rituals
Finally, there are reminders and rituals you can integrate into your day. This might be something as simple as pausing to breath and focus when the phone rings, before you pick it up, or saying a silent blessing for whoever is on the other end. Or it could be starting the day off stating your intention to serve and work towards the highest good of all involved. Or a sticky note that just says, “Remember.”
Clearly this post is a picture of how to make your work your spiritual practice that barely scratches the surface. In future posts I will go deeper with specific ideas you can put into action.
Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM
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