awake @ work

On Thu, 14 November, 2013 - 20:47
Dharmaprabha's picture
Being awake @ work – There is a lot of talk in Buddhism about “doing” and “being” – how can we do less and be more? Can we be a human being rather than a human doing? Most of us feel pushed by our work demands, pushed to do more, quicker, faster, in less time than ever before. It is as if the “doing” mode is winning out over the “being” mode. Of course we need to “do” both…we need to act in the world, to create things, to work and start and finish projects, interactions…however, we sometimes forget the qualities of mindfulness and metta that can mean we are much more in touch with a sense of “being” in the world…being more embedded in our experience, more relaxed, more creative, more ethically sensitive.

By reflecting on the way things really are, we can loosen up our sense of “self” in the workplace. Through reflecting on slogans in meditation, and in the workplace we can see through the delusion of a separate self, with something to do, and somewhere to be. Here are some slogans that can help us with deeper reflections in the nature of reality. If we take the Buddha’s teachings on the three laksanas, we can reflect that 1. There is no separate fixed self ; 2.that everything is impermanent, 3. That there is suffering and unsatisfactoriness. Fortunately for us, there is a way out of suffering, and we can more deeply reflect on the nature of self, and into the nature of impermanence, and we can find great freedom in this.

Shraddhasiddhi writes: “Around some six or seven years ago I came across a book called “Awake at work” by Michael Caroll. It’s a book based on the seven point mind training teachings, and Michael is a practising Buddhist who has worked on Wall Street in America for many years. His life has been devoted to taking his dharma practice into his work life, and in helping others to open to the dharma at work and bring joy and the fruits of our practice into the workplace. His book contains a number of slogans, which he suggests we practice with by meditating and reflecting on them in our lives at work, and on our meditation cushions.

One of my favourite slogans is “Work is a mess” – it uses the language of paradox to point to a deep truth, that everything in our lives is a process, or series of processes, that are in constant change and flux. We like to think that at work we can control these processes – meet the customers deadline 100% of the time, balance our budgets, keep our staff happy and motivated, produce new and ever more creative and inventive products for the market. In reality, many factors condition our performance at work, and there are times when we all struggle and times when work is chaotic, messy, surprising and we can drop into negative mental patterns. Through reflecting on the way things really are, we can loosen the grip of our “selfing” at work, and allow things to be a bit more, create a more flexible attitude, so that we can respond creatively even in the most messy of situations. We’ll be sharing a bit more in depth soon, on people’s experiences of this slogan and using it at work”.

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