Is spiritual growth all about reading books, meditating, and chanting mantras? Here’s a story and an idea you might like to consider…
One of my very best friends has recently begun quite an intense journey of personal and spiritual growth. I can’t tell you how amazing and inspiring this has been for me, as her friend, and knowing her just a year ago not knowing what she wanted to do with her life, and struggling with some pretty formidable personal demons (we all have them of course). In a very short period of time, I have seen a HUGE transformation in her. This is a person that I have always loved very much, but have also butted heads with quite a bit at the same time.
I have to tell you, from my perspective, as someone who knows her quite well, I have seen her practicing her meditations, chanting mantras, performing very sacred and protected practices, and becoming very involved in her personal spiritual path. It’s quite impressive to see anyone with the type of commitment to practice something consistently and with dedication.
But where do you think I’ve really seen how much she’s grown? Where does the true, unmistakable fruit of all her spiritual work show itself?
It shows itself in the way she acts during the toughest and ugliest of times. It shows itself in the times when she is battling with her personal frustrations, or facing her fears, or dealing with situations that are stressful. It shows itself in the way she treats me when I am being annoying, or ignorant, or unconscious.
Do you see what I mean? I learned a few years ago (and this was a painful lesson for me to accept at the time) that I can meditate aaaaallll day long, and reach some of the most amazing places in my mind, but
if the second I go out to face the world I lose all awareness, all composure, all understanding from moment to moment of what I have discovered while going inside, I haven’t really moved an inch!
This is an interesting subject to talk about with people, who are on a spiritual path, or even just a path of becoming the best they can personally be. The reason it’s so interesting to me is that this is where the rubber really meets the road. This is where it gets real. I can imagine that if we were to take a group of 1,000 so-called “spiritual aspirants”, we could divide them into two different categories: people, who do spiritual practices in their own free time, and people whose lives have become a spiritual practice, or an integration of their spiritual practice into their personal time.
Of course everyone starts learning with some sort of philosophy or technique, whether it be yoga, meditation, reading spiritual or self-help books, or becoming a Buddhist. This is where it starts, and nearly anyone can achieve some amazing states of inner peace, and discover some enlightening and exciting things about our nature, and love, and all those other fantastic feel-good kinds of things. But someone who is really serious about being true to their path quickly finds out that there’s a huge difference between doing practices in your free time, and actually living your ideals and spiritual understandings in your every day life.
I would have to imagine that the hardest place to do this for most people would be in their work life. I know that has been for me personally.
But here is where a great secret of life reveals itself to the truly dedicated person. It may be harder for me to apply my own spiritual and personal understanding to my work life than anywhere else, but this is also where I have gained some of the most tremendous value from its application. Not only has applying what I have learned as best I can helped me excel and succeed at work, but the very challenge that it presents to me has ensured that what I’ve learned is actually experienced, rather than just being intellectualized.
The world of work, business, and corporations can be so bureaucratic, so intellectual and left-brained, so dog eat dog, and so egotistical that it takes great courage at times to maintain a spiritual practice, or test a spiritual truth in it.
What this does for you is it gives you the chance to jump off the cliff with the faith that Truth will catch you. It allows you to see in the most dramatic sense that what you are learning works!
And guess what happens to your work life when you can harness the power of your mind to manifest results, or to draw upon the Oneness of all that is to get the universe on your side? You start getting above-average results. And what happens when you practice integrity, compassion, honesty, understanding of the human condition, etc? You become someone that is trusted, respected, appreciated, and the person that others will bend over backwards for.
So what are a few ways that we can integrate our spiritual/personal practices into our work life?
First off, we have to decide that this is important to us. We need to understand that its hardly worth even learning or pursuing knowledge unless we actually make it a real part of our lives. Otherwise, we’ll end up as jaded intellectuals, spectators, who have tricked ourselves into thinking we are players in the game, yet never able to prove it to ourselves, or fully believe that what we’ve invested in is True.
After we’ve made the decision, we need to find a way to remind ourselves of our ideals or practices even in the toughest of times. Many people tend to go back unconscious at work time, or have a double life, where they have justified acting or thinking in ways at work that contradict what they believe in outside of work. This has to stop. Whether it requires a meditation during break, a post-it note, listening to something uplifting in your car, or whatever else you can think of, there must be something to help you maintain this integrity and awareness during the busy work day.
Ultimately, you have to trust that what you believe in is more powerful, more true, and more worthwhile than the average, high-stress, dog eat dog, materialistic, and ego-based mind-state that inhabits most of the work-place in this day and age.
I can promise you from personal experience that doing this will add more value to your life than you can possibly imagine. Work is often times, where miracles are needed the most, where forgiveness has the most positive benefits, where true joy and peace are welcomed like sunshine after years of rain.
And this is where you can really, truly experience yourself becoming what you are striving to become.