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Keeping On The Path


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Hi all,

 

I think we all tend to experience challenges while trying walk a spiritual path. That our culture on the whole tends not to be very accommodating to the endeavor is a fact that doesn't need much elaboration. Suffice to say that meaning, values, and serious spiritual practice, are not at the forefront of the modern Western enterprise. It tends to be compartmentalized and otherwise ignored.

 

So it's an uphill battle. I'd like to discuss the ways in which we each stay focused. In the workplace, at home, or wherever. The workplace is an especially difficult environment for me - I do warehouse work and the culture there is definitely not conductive to a meaningful practice. Plus the job itself, like most I suppose, can be a hassle. My brain is fried at the end of the day a lot of times. So I find that I need to get up about an hour before I have to, to sit and maybe read a little. Though I'm definitely not a morning person. One other thing I need to constantly remind myself to do throughout the day is breathe. During work the breath can become so shallow, and we usually don't pay attention.

 

The hardest part for me is that my coworkers tend to want hang out after work. I'm not saying I've never been to a bar or had anything to drink, but it's definitely not my lifestyle. It's not that I don't like my coworkers, the difficulty is that I do like them as individuals, but I find that I have to keep my distance at the same time, because our ways of life are diametrically opposed. I don't consider myself a prude - and I don't wear my views on my sleeve or evangelize to people, but I see a way of life in the way people around me are living that is rooted in discontentment and hedonism, and in the case of the workplace, alcohol, drugs, and misogyny to boot. It feels like a tightrope act sometimes, and there are times when I have to shake my head and say "did I just say that?!"

 

I thought it might be good to share our challenges and practices here. :)

 

Peace,

Mike

Edited by Mike
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Guest billmc

One of the things I try to do, Mike, is to remind myself to look for God everywhere. I want to be sensitive to seeing or experiencing him through the people and events of my life.

 

Devotions have never worked well for me. Perhaps it is because they are centered on other people's experiences of God or perhaps it is because they tend to be legalistic, something we should do every day if we are to be good Christians. Or maybe it is simply because they seem too programmed, too much relegating God to only the scriptures or only the experiences of others, I don't know.

 

But if I remind myself to look for God in everything, I am often surprised on what my "antennae" can pick up as the day goes along. God can speak to me and appear to me in the strangest of things (and people). And I love the dynamic of not trying to confine him to a 10 or 15 minute time-slot in the morning.

 

So my "practices" are quite fluid and lacking in ritual or liturgy. But they work for me.

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Mike,

 

Only for short times have i experienced what you describe in the workplace. I have always moved on to jobs that to me were enjoyable and work was not work. When a job no longer seemed to hold growth or interest to me, i never quit but looked or kept my ears open for another while still employed. As a result i have worked for more than 12 employers in my lifetime and ended up working in my own business for myself which lasted 14 years and was most satisfying. This included jobs from produce boy, trash collector (paper and cardboard) to the selling of $200,000 computer systems and everything in between, all without a college degree.

 

In those cases where others did not fit well into my "practice", i concentrated and focused on my own work and doing it the best i could. It seemed that somehow management always saw this and i was usually promoted quite rapidly before my peers. This usually moved me up to a position where i found more like-minded individuals.

 

I have had some problems with co-workers and not fitting in to their lifestyle but as long as i focused on cheerfully preforming my job, i found that opportunity always presented itself for a positive change. It seems to me that continuing working in a job that holds little joy can contribute to changing ones lifestyle to fit into the very mold one might be observing in others. That is why it is important to me to focus on the present task and its successful completion and to do ones best. For the most part, even poor managers want a take charge worker who make their job easier. I usually viewed the company i worked for as my own and even bought stock in them when possible and went out of my way to help them succeed in any capacity i was given.

 

Well, that's my 2 cents on work and its challenge to the practice. In short summary, from my experience, i would say.... make the work itself your joyful practice and allow others to be who they are and opportunities for a change will present them self.

 

Joseph

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Mike, I can relate. I get up at 4:30 when I have to work so I can meditate. As a teacher I see it as erasing the board so I have a clean slate to work with. I lived in Korea 11 years and after teaching a three month class for Managers after work, it was their custom to take the teacher out to an expensive dinner and drinks. I always declined politely because I am vegetarian and don't drink. I am happy I did so because they respected it and it showed their true Generosity to let me be myself. I was young then so was expected to indulge. Now, I decline and people respect it just because I am elderly. I am old, but still speak when I am spoken to, but really don't indulge in idle chit chat. I find I am very active during the day so in the evening I am attracted to the interior stillness once again. In my meditation I observe the samskaras (mental and volitional formations)I have accumulated so I erase the board one more time before retiring.

 

When my children were growing up living in Reno, we would go to the buffets and after I would have a drink with them so they could see drinking in moderation also helps with digestion. It seemed to work as both my sons are very social, but do not drink or are very careful with the intake. My sons and wife are not vegetarian and do not meditate so I feel everyone has to find their own way to commune with the Spirit. May we all find are way to the party.

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Guest billmc

Where I work, we have an older workforce. There are about 30 of us in my dept and almost all of us are 45 and up. It's my suspicion that by the time people get to that age, they are fairly comfortable with their spiritual beliefs or lack of them. One of my coworkers goes on mission trips about twice a year and takes his faith very seriously (though he doesn't evangelize). My best friend there is a Baptist but doesn't talk about his beliefs. My team leader is a 5-Point Calvinist and only engages spiritual conversations with other Christians who he feels need converting to Calvinism. :lol: And we have one guy who is very evangelical who plays his conservative Christian radio station as loud as he can until told to turn it down. As far as I can tell, the rest of the group either holds to their beliefs privately or take the cultural view that if they live a good life, ol' St. Pete will open the door to heaven for them someday. So there is not much "seeking" going on, although I know that we always watch one another's lives.

 

As for me, I don't openly evangelize. It turns me off to be on the receiving end so I don't do the giving end either. I'll engage in a spiritual conversation if asked, but usually don't start them. I'm not quite as sure of things as Jesus seemed to have been. :)

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Briefly

My life is in turmoil and My skills at dealing with it are few. At work, clerical in front of computer all day, I am known as the nice, smart, mentally disordered guy who doesn't tolerate bad language or teasing. If I am obsessing or seated next to a person whose lack of work ethic makes me nuts I try to pay attention to the sounds and physical sensations - air conditioning, key board sounds, etc. and breathe.

 

Currently a covenant calls for me to go to bed earlier. no stimulating activity: ideas that become obsessive or signing on to TCPC and addictive activities: watching TV or signing on to TCPC. I often listin to a meditation CD at bedtime.

 

And my counselor always asks if I have had any suicidal thought since the last visit. I am happy to report two steps:

shock at the fact that I would want to kill myself and that I can stop a downward spiral.

Right now I am a sentimental Christian: I do it because I am used to it.

 

Take Care

 

Dutch

Edited by glintofpewter
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