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Commentaries on Spirituality in the Workplace
Part I

Susan Kramer

Part II Spirituality in the Workplace

One-day Retreat Outline

Copyright © 1998-2011 Susan Kramer
Santa Barbara, California USA
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Published by Creations in Consciousness


1. Affirmations and Insight in the Workplace
2. Being Supportive
3. Breath Work for Stress Reduction
4. Detaching from Others' Reactions
5. Expressions of Love in the Workplace
6. Giving Space
7. Heart versus Head Decisions
8. Manners
9. Prayer Power
10. Salesmanship
11. Setting the Pace
1. Affirmations and Insight in the Workplace

Is it right to spend time in reflection, or in making affirmations during the workday?

It is the integration of insight into daily living that gives us our most useful experience as humans.

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 or prayers or other uplifting thoughts. So, if you are using an affirmation to replace a negative thought pattern, by all means do it.

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 time 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 on your workplace obligations more easily, during the time of the day you have set aside for that.

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.
2. Being Supportive

Being supportive does not mean making a decision for another. Being supportive gives a listening ear, and calmly gives feedback in the form of restating the issues behind what is perhaps being emotionally expressed.

We are called on to be supportive at home and at work, with friends and family. At work, the supervisor shows support by listening with a compassionate ear to our work-related needs and revising our work schedule for the good of both the worker and the company in a win-win situation if needed. To be supportive to ourselves, we will relax a bit if we remember that issues are always resolved one way or another.

When we are in a crisis we are feeling heightened emotional energy so much in our body that we may not clearly be aware of what the issues are that need to be resolved. Taking time to de-stress by practicing some regulated breathing and walking around, evens out the emotional impact on our body, allowing the core problems to come up to our thinking mind.

With our family, the same techniques that we use in our interactions at work hold true: lending a listening ear; separating out the core issues from the emotional expressions; offering possible solutions from our own experience, but not demanding that our way be followed; praying that the highest resolve come to mind; praying that our loved-one has the courage to do what is right for them.

Being supportive at work and with family and friends is a major part of our life experience. It is in being supportive to another and others that we stretch our own capacity to give caring love, and to receive other's caring when we need it.
3. Breath Work for Stress Reduction

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

At the workplace we can put into practice regulated breathing 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 taking even in and out breaths, 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 mind/body:

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 a couple of hours after a meal so the muscles of the limbs and the stomach muscle 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.
4. Detaching from Others' Reactions

Sometimes, when we express our opinions, they are not received as we thought they would be. Others' reactions to our words and actions are dependent on the other person's own background, and their emotional, mental, and physical state of being at that moment.

Our own feelings are valid for us. We own them. And every other person owns and is entitled to their feelings, also.

If we get a reaction back that we do not expect, we need to slide over to another track of communication, or even forget about communicating with that person till another time.

It is codependent behavior to expect to derive our happiness from the reaction of another person to us. Whether at work, or with family or friends, we are each responsible for acting so that we maintain our peace of mind and contentment without regard to another's feelings or reactions.

Some ways to develop a home base of peace of mind and contentment:

1. Maintain or establish positive attitudes under all circumstances. This is so important, as how we view situations determines their outcome. Positive attitudes allow the positive ideas for a resolve to come to mind. Think back. All situations from the past had a resolve; therefore it follows that all current and future situations will have a resolve, also.
2. Daily, pray for guidance. The combination of supplication, meditation and reflection gives us all the answers we need for the application of the guidance received in our prayer time.
3. Treat everyone and everything in life as we would our own possessions and family members. This keeps us striving to establish harmony at work, at home, and with friends.
4. Our body is our home base. Treat it with care and consideration, remembering, that all we ingest becomes an integral part of us. Attitudes and thoughts, too, as stress is felt in our body as well as our mind.

In summary, detaching from other's reactions to us, allows us to maintain our peace of mind and harmony, best able to resolve the steady stream of situations that come our way in life.
5. Expressions of Love in the Workplace

Love takes many forms
and the purest form of love is caring

Is there anything in the universe but love that motivates and energizes us? If so, I haven't found it. And, it is in our very acts of caring, of loving, that we come to know our Source of love most fully.

When we feel caring with someone
our body relaxes
and tension drains from our mind

As humans, we are made up of the intertwining of body, mind, and emotions; powered by the harmonious intelligent energy of Spirit.

Being congruent in our total expression as humans means that we act on our emotional feelings and instinctual drives with intelligence without hurting anyone.

And in the setting of the workplace, when we are most fully caring with each other, the best result for all comes about.

Our instinctual biological drive
creates and maintains pair bonding
But in the workplace
it is caring love that produces the best results

6. 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 in, 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 if we are over 18.

Giving another 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 over 18 years of age 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 judgment 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.
7. Heart versus Head Decisions

We might think that a decision coming from our 'heart' would be mushy but it is just the opposite.

A head decision is an analytical decision and is one dimensional, in fact it is straight line thinking and works well in a math equation, and that is about it. This kind of analysis does not work in relationships in the workplace or with family or friends since it is so one-dimensional. It does not take into consideration all the prevailing circumstances that go into making the best decision from all facts and circumstances combined.

Heart decisions come from our total experience—bodily senses, mind, and soul. We say these are heart decisions because we feel the energy for making these decisions in our torso—the physical and emotional seat of our being while in our human form. The energy for making the best decision is not centered in the top of our body, the head. The energy really is pumped all through us from the center of our body, our physical heart, energizing all of our body.

By analyzing all the data taken in through the receptors of all of our bodily senses we can know that we have reached the right decision by noting how we feel in our torso, in our physical heart or physical body. We should feel relaxed in our body instead of stressed in our body. Some signs of stress being digestive upsets, raised blood pressure, and headaches after making just head instead of full-body decisions.

Some of the hatha yoga practices help us get back in touch with the experience and practice of making full-body decisions—decisions that eliminate the stress in our body that comes from basing decisions on just a mathematical equation, in other words, from making a decision that does not come from viewing and reviewing all the circumstances. Hatha yoga postures are of a body-mind nature. We learn to really feel the workings of our body through the control of our breathing, and the effects of hatha as a bodily meditation. This is one of the greatest benefits of yoga—coming to experience all aspects of ourselves separately, and additionally, as a working unit. A unit that is meant to be taken from the yoga classroom into daily living as an integration of bodily feeling, greater perception from the bodily senses, and then compounded into a best decision in each situation we confront in living.

Imagine if you were laying in a deep relaxation pose and a heavy bean bag were placed upon the heart region of your body. Your attention would be drawn to the sensation going on in your torso, while all the while thoughts were flowing through your mind. This little practice can help you remember to pay attention to the level of comfort in your daily decision making, from the level of comfort felt in the torso of your body during decisions making.

In summary, if we make decisions in living using all the available input and our body stays relaxed, then we are making a best decision. If, on the other hand, we feel uptight and stressed from a decision we have made, we are only using the mathematical aspect of our thinking mind and have not taken all the circumstances into consideration. Our bodies are more than our vehicle for getting from here to there. Our bodily senses are to be paid attention to and incorporated into all decisions that seemingly flow from thoughts in our brain. And, our bodily sensation of comfort serves as the monitor to let us know if we are on the right tract in our decision making.
8. Manners

Every country has its own set of manners that are commonly followed for polite interaction.

In the United States of America different regions of the 50 states have their own set of local manners. And depending on the time in history that a person grows up, certain manners are common at the time—and it is likely that as adults the manners learned in childhood will stay with them for a lifetime.

There are commonly accepted manners for every aspect of living. Ways that we in the society of our family, and out in the world use to best get along together. At social gatherings there are special manners, and at the workplace another set is best.

As children, we learn from those around us what the accepted manners are, from parents, siblings, playmates, and from teachers, television and movies. Children's books are written that tell stories through words and pictures just what good manners are. An example is Richard Scarry's The Berenstein Bears Please and Thank You Book—which uses a family of bears interacting with each other with and without good manners. In Mr. Scarry's book detrimental outcomes happen from using bad manners, and better outcomes result from using good manners. By the end of the story, all in the family agree that they are a happier family if each one uses good manners in relating together. The television shows—Barney the Dinosaur and Sesame Street use puppets, children, and adults acting out scenarios with good and bad manners, to show children that they will live happier lives if they live peaceably and in harmony with each other by using their good manners.

And just what are good manners in American society? All over the states we say through word or symbol 'please' and 'thank you' when we want a favor and when we receive a favor. That is probably the most universal set of words in this country. A smile says thank you, too. And the right thumb-up sign says okay or thank you in a symbolic and non-verbal way.

From earlier times in this country, men opened doors for women to enter first. But, since the women's liberation movement in this country, it is not uncommon to see men and women opening the door for themselves. Regardless of the time period in history, the most basic of manners in America is that respect and politeness be shown in relationships and all interactions. Respect for another's ideas by not interrupting their sentences. Respect shown by not putting another's ideas down as bad just because the ideas being presented are different from our own upbringing. Respect shown without regard to another's different race, religion, education, or socio-economic background from our own.

In today's world it is good manners to be polite and respectful equally to the men and women we work with, without regard for the status of the worker. Supervisors and those supervised show the good manners of respect for each other. This kind of work relationship is known as team work, and allows each person their unique input to produce a better outcome—as the diversity of input from diverse backgrounds brings forth more resources from which to choose.

In summary of the specific manners of the American public, I would say that 'please' and 'thank you' head the list. From there on it is respect shown, in that we treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated. Good manners are learned from our earliest days through the examples around us—from parents, siblings, the media, and teachers. And as we grow into adulthood it is with the good manners of being polite and respectful to each other that we preserve our own inner harmony, and create harmony in our relationships with our family, in the workplace, and the larger society.
9. Prayer Power

The power of prayer is like hitting a punching ball. We send out the punch of our plea and the ball returns to us in an increase in our insight in how to handle the situation we are praying about. As it is a scientific maxim that energy put out returns in kind, we can rely on our heartfelt prayers to be answered.

And, as we think and act, so we become. It is up to us to put the insight received from our prayers into action, even if we would rather do something different.

Prayer is powerful, a concentration of our energy. Prayer is effective in every area of our life, whether at work, at play, or in our family or friendship relationships. Prayer power gets up our energy to get the job done.

Prayer is an uplifting of our thoughts into a marriage with our spirit. It stretches us heavenward into our unlimited internal and eternal insight of Self. Conditions in our life that seem unbearable and unsolvable resolve themselves when we incorporate the concentrated punch, the concentrated power of prayer into our tools for living most effectively and efficiently.

Prayer power remolds the understandings and uplifts the lives of both ourselves and others.

I have found that whether at work or at home, prayer provides the fastest and most effective method of insight to solve a problem for myself or to aid another.

And prayer requires only concentration and intention for the best resolve, spoken in our mind, therefore, its power can be harnessed privately in any situation we find ourselves.

Prayer power is for our use in all aspects of living. Prayer is the most effective use of our will and desire for betterment. Prayer's powerful punch of energy aligns and realigns ourselves and our loved ones for the best when needed the most.
10. Salesmanship

Salesmanship is usually thought of as actions for the sale of goods or services.

None of us are 100% self-sufficient on this planet. Rather, each of us contributes something of ourselves to others, and in return uses what others provide. So, in this way we have access to everything that we need to live in society.

Almost every day in every way we are selling ourselves as we present our point of view, whether in business dealings or in relationships. We each have an opinion and the right to express that opinion as long as it does not hurt anyone else--or ourselves, either. If we sway someone in a business dealing to our way of thinking or buying from us for our own profit, and it causes detriment to the other person, an unpleasant boomerang will return to us in kind. That boomerang effect is the deadening of ourselves to our esoteric qualities—qualities that give us our unique human capacity for joy, which is beyond our purely animalistic aspect of greed.

It is only in the plant and animal kingdom that survival depends on getting what is needed, no matter who has to suffer.

As humans, the continuance of our life does not depend on someone else having to suffer. And if we cause another's suffering in our quest for survival, we reduce ourselves below our humanness into an animalistic state.

So how do we know if our means justify our ends in selling ourselves or a product? We can keep these points in mind:

1. Will our actions cause detriment to another person?
2. Are we telling a lie to get some gain?
3. Are we promising what we can not deliver?

If we pass these three questions with three 'no' answers, we win because we maintain our peace of mind.

Just to recap: In sales or in any kind of business or personal interaction we are selling to make a favorable impression on another so that they will more likely buy what we are offering. That is right and good if we are sure that we can and will deliver all that we promise.

We preserve and enhance our humanity by giving the best of ourselves in all aspects of living—in personal life, and in our business dealings.
11. Setting the Pace

We have 24 hours a day. What we do during that time is up to us—and up to our energy level.

Each person has their own priorities and responsibilities at work, and with family and friends. It is up to each of us to set aside the time for what we consider most important and most necessary to accomplish in our 24-hours.

Our personal energy level has a great bearing on what we can mentally and physically accomplish with our time without becoming stressed. Showing up as an illness from pushing ourselves too hard and becoming run down.

Each person is an individual, and each person has a different set of priorities and differing stamina in their position in life. Perhaps a workaholic is so wrapped up in their quest to get ahead in the world that they let their family life slide. That is how that person has prioritized. Another person may just put in their 8-hour work day, and then leave it behind to pursue recreation. Another person may put family time first and the job second, perhaps just working part time to give as much time as possible to family life.

The bottom line is that each of us have both our personal priorities and responsibilities to balance with our time and energy level. As adults we each make those choices for ourselves.

If you are feeling like you want more energy here are some hints:

1. Eat a diet that is easy to digest, and time your eating so that you do not feel lethargic. A good eating plan is outlined in the book Fit For Life by Marilyn and Harvey Diamond. They present food combinations that digest most easily, meaning less of our available energy is used in digestion, and more is available for our priorities.
2. Exercise daily. Our bodies are machines that can do even more, when we do more.
3. Reflect and meditate on the day's events, and plan for tomorrow so that tomorrow's events will go more efficiently.

In summary, everyone sets their own pace in living according to their available energy. When we maintain a positive attitude we actually draw more energy into our body, our mind and body are tied together in this way. Therefore, for the most energy in living hold positive attitudes, eat cleanly, and exercise regularly. At work, take regular mental timeouts to keep time in as productive as possible. At home, time with family or friends can be quality time, just not quantity time. In today's fast-paced world that seems to fly by, it is by making the most of our time, that allows us to keep up with our busy schedules.


Susan Kramer, M.A., an international author of more than 50 collections and 150 articles on rhythmic dance, ballet, music, philosophy, yoga and practical spirituality for children, teens, adults and those challenged, with some translations in Dutch, French, German and Spanish, and with her husband, Stan Schaap-, resides in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
web site
further reading
Meditation Site at Bella Online, Susan Kramer, Editor

Books for teaching toddlers to teens by Susan Kramer

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