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Workin' our Way Through the Day
by Susan Kramer

5 Minutes till Closin' Time.

It's 5 minutes till closin' time, and the office suddenly comes alive. We quickly dive one last time into our email, then spring up from our desks to close up, before heading out the door. Those last 5 minutes becoming the most animated time of our work day.

This little example shows us how very intertwined our mental attitudes and energy levels are. When we want to do something we have the physical energy to do it. When we don't want to do something, we feel lethargic. The unseen thought process, and the very much seen bodily form, completely and inexplicably bound together almost every moment of our lives.

So, it follows that if something needs to be done, we can get it done more quickly and with more energy just by looking at the job in a positive light. This can be as simple as saying to one's self -- the sooner I get it done, the sooner I can go on to something else.

During most of our waking time, our mental attitudes and physical energy levels are bound up together. But, when we sit in meditation, something different happens to this unique relationship of body-mind. As we sit still, thinking appreciatively and lovingly on what we have in our lives, our body becomes infused with warm energy and we feel truly enlivened and joyful. In fact, this experience is what I describe as joy -- my body begins feeling warm and full of energy from my loving thoughts about and for others, and all the good things in my life.

Meditation's gift to us, and for us, is joy
And joy is an enlivened energy
that we take from meditation into our daily lives

Because we are not moving our physical body during meditation, the heat from holding positive and loving thoughts is stored in us, and carries over into the coming actions in our lives. And the more regular we become in our meditation practice, the more we continue to hold positive attitudes and thoughts the rest of the day. A short period of meditation in the morning starts the day off energetically, and a refresher session during the day keeps us going. A reflective and meditative session before bed helps us rewind and play the tape from the day -- evaluating, and setting the scene for the next day's activities.

5 minutes till closin' time
Full of energy and pep once again
from our attitude that we are now going to do
what we want to do --
Holding positive attitudes all during our workin' day
Keeps us energized, ever ready
Keeps us feelin' fine

Yes, Patience is a Virtue.

We are called to practice patience over and over and over again in our lives.

We get impatient with others and ourselves when things are not going our way. If we would only let go of our preconception of what has to be, we would find that we could be more relaxed in our relationships at work or anywhere.

We can observe ourselves becoming impatient when our body suddenly can not remain still -- we start feeling physically agitated and go into a fight or flight mode -- maybe blaming someone else for our impatience.

But, we can take control of stemming the build up of the stressful feelings our own impatience causes in our body-mind. To counteract our negative thinking coming from our impatience we can completely relax our body, and start breathing evenly in and out, in and out -- simultaneously listening very carefully to the person with whom we are feeling impatient.

While regulating our breathing we can go on calmly listening to the other person's situation as an observer, a bystander, rather than be caught up in their drama. In the bystander, rather than participant role, we can start sorting and sifting out the facts and issues from the person's emotion. And, at the same time not compound the situation by getting our own stressful emotions involved.

What causes us to feel another's stress -- taking on that stress ourselves -- is our own frustration that things are not going as we would want. By carefully listening with a detached point of view to the facts behind the emotion we can come up with a more useful resolve for the situation. And all the while we are listening, we can keep our bodies from going into fight or flight mode by regulating our own breathing -- discharging our stress, distress, at having to make adjustments to our desires and thinking.

Affirmations and Insight in the Workplace.

It is the integration of insight into daily living, that provides us a most useful background for our ever-continuing experiences in living.

The flow of thoughts through our mind is never-ending. We have the free will to dwell on thoughts as they arrive, or let them go by replacing them with thoughts of our choice, such as positive affirmations, prayers, or other uplifting thoughts.

If you are concentrating on adding a column of figures on a calculator you will probably be focused just on that. Our mind dwells on what we are concentrated on in the moment. If you need to concentrate on a worldly matter, concentrate on it fully at that moment -- then take a time-out to do some affirmations.

We need to regulate our time
so that we meet our work and family obligations
while simultaneously maintaining our peace of mind

If you know that you will have a chance to be by yourself -- in the company of your Infinite Self -- for several set periods of the day, you might then be able to concentrate more easily on your workplace obligations.

The goal of all affirmations and spiritual practices is not the perfection of the affirmations and practices. The outcome is that we return to a natural state of peace of mind, and easefulness in our body. Practices are just that -- practice sessions.

In general, I maintain spiritual consciousness by:

1. Being kind and caring with each person, whether on the phone or in person;

2. Prioritizing my tasks for the month, week, and day -- making a very broad outline with lots of between time for the unexpected;

3. Lying in a deep relaxation pose during part of my lunch hour;

4. Standing and stretching at least 4 times during the workday;

5. Taking a one minute mental break occasionally, by eating a piece of fruit or some nuts, while thinking about the taste of the food, and not the project/problem I am facing.

Spiritual consciousness is a state of being -- and its outpouring shows itself by our kind and caring acts with family, friends, co-workers. Spiritual consciousness is the full use of our body, mind, and emotions interacting harmoniously, and then appropriately used to produce the greatest good.

In the workplace, when we relate with kindness and caring all issues eventually right themselves -- producing the best resolve all around.

Breath Work for Stress Reduction.

If we don't breathe, we don't live.

At the workplace we can put regulated breathing into practice for a few minutes when we are feeling stressed, and want to calm down.

I have found that by sitting still, or even by just walking around while breathing evenly in and out, that my pulse returns to normal.

Hatha yoga postures are a great way to tone the internal organs, keep the joints supple, and learn how to control breathing, for when we are back at the workplace. In hatha yoga several breathing techniques are employed for calming the body-mind:

1. Breathing during postures: As we go into a posture the breath is drawn in, and in releasing the posture the breath is let out. While holding the posture, the breath is calm and even. As a note -- it is best to do a hatha yoga session at least 2 hours after a meal so the blood flow to the muscles of the limbs and the stomach are not competing. As far as what to eat -- it is most natural to eat what agrees with your own digestive system. A book on Ayurveda would give some helpful hints on the best foods for a particular body type and lifestyle. I use and recommend the writings of Dr. Deepak Chopra.

2. Breathing during meditation: To calm the mind, the breaths are evenly spaced in and out. There is even a meditation where we mentally observe ourselves breathing evenly in and out.

Let's remember that more than eating or drinking, we need to breathe for our survival -- and that the breath is also our tool for calming our mind and body when under stress.

Giving Space.

At the workplace as well as in our relationships with family and friends, we all function best when we are given our space:

Space to put our possessions;
Space to move around, that is fully under our own domain;
Space around our body that is free from unwanted intrusion;
Space to voice our opinions;
Space to make our own decisions.

Giving another person space is giving respect. Even young children need all the above kinds of space in order to grow into their full blossoming. If a child is under 18 we are legally responsible for the outcome of their decisions -- and for our adult children we can offer opinions -- but it is the adult child's right and responsibility to make and live by their personal decisions.

My 5 children are all adults, now. I listen to them but I no longer tell them what to do. If asked for my advice, I tell them what I might do in a similar circumstance, but that is where my input ends in their decision making process. I have found for myself that being responsible for making my own decisions gives me satisfaction and peace of mind. As adults, we are all kings and queens over the domain of our own lives.

In the workplace we have tasks assigned to us, and then we use our judgement and experience to get the job done as best we can. Space to work, think, plan, and then carry out our responsibilities is a necessary ingredient in doing our best for our employer or employee. And as parents, giving space to our children to think, plan, carry out lessons from school -- and in their daily living -- allows and promotes the growing-up process.

Workin' our way through the day is the process of living. And by living in our highest consciousness, we bring the most harmony and happiness into the workplace, our family life, and larger community of the world.

Writing ©1999 Susan Kramer, Santa Barbara, California, USA

Susan Kramer is the author of over 30 collections of writings on practical spirituality and consciousness -- many translated into the German language.