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Commentaries on Spirituality in the Workplace
Part II

Susan Kramer

Part I 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. 5 Minutes till Closin' Time
2. Challenges
3. Character Characteristics
4. Collective Morality
5. Competition
6. Constructive Criticism
7. Identifying with Spiritual Reality
8. Justifying Our Efforts
9. Maintaining Equanimity for Successful Living
10. Pleasing Others
11. Stress Relief
12. Yes, Patience is a Virtue
1. 5 Minutes till Closin' Time

At 5 minutes till closin' time the office suddenly comes alive. We quickly dive one last time into our email…then spring up from our desks to close up the office 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 mind-body. 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 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 energization 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

2. Challenges

Life is challenging. So many choices. Even to survive minimally, we must plan and put forth energy. And, it is while in the very process of living, that we challenge ourselves most fully. The ultimate challenge—the most important goal while on earth—coming to know our Source, Resource—our roots in timelessness and changelessness.

The process of coming to know our immortal roots is our ongoing, and quite often hidden goal—hidden even from ourselves—when we do not understand some of the underlying axioms of the universe. Particularly, that like comes from like—as an apple tree bears apples, not bananas. And, that actions from an attitude of kindness and care bear the most luscious fruits.

Our daily challenge is to be good ourselves, while acting for the highest good, the best resolve of our daily situations. Thereby, aligning ourselves with the harmony, the cooperation that shows itself to us in the natural world. All the smaller parts getting together to form the larger parts. And shown to us in our own body—each organ doing its job in cooperation with every other organ for the harmonious functioning of our body. And on the larger scale, each of our bodies forming the one body of mankind.

At home, at work, or anywhere, let's keep in mind that each new situation is really a challenge for us to grow a little more in consciousness of our eternal roots. That by meeting challenges with a positive attitude, and working for the best resolve—an equitable resolve all around—we catapult ourselves ever closer to knowing consistently, what actions best preserve harmony—therefore happiness—in our lives.

Our challenge, daily
forming the event of our life
To align ourselves moment to moment with harmony
And in the compounding of harmonious moments
enjoy the best life has to offer
Peace of mind and relaxation within one's Self
Our greatest challenge then met

3. Character Characteristics

What are the characteristics of good character?

My list:

Trustworthy, reliable;
Congruent in word and action;
Acting with kindness and care;
Being good and doing good;
Honoring commitments—at home and at work.

1. Trustworthy, reliable:
    Able to be depended upon; able to keep confidences private.
2. Congruent in word and action:
    Acting as we say we are going to do, and being able to accurately describe our actions.
3. Mannerly:
    Remembering to show appreciation. Sharing our time with another, so that each has a turn for expression. Using the words 'please' and 'thank you' often.
4. Acting with kindness and care:
    As it takes no more energy to be kind than to be indifferent, taking
moments to be kind with those who would benefit. This refines our
character—develops our consciousness of being part of the larger world family.
5. Being good and doing good:
    Being good and doing good, both, improve the quality of the person that we are.
6. Honoring commitments—at home and at work:
    It is in honoring our commitments that we become valued members of society. Our example influencing all we meet, reinforcing others promises to honor their own commitments.

Character characteristics
How we are seen in the world by others
and by ourselves
in our quiet moments of reflection and introspection
A worthy task for self-improvement
Leading to growth in consciousness
Fuller Self-consciousness

4. Collective Morality

Collectively we set the tone and tenor for our current humanity.

Each of us, together
One world family
One world consciousness

Therefore, how each of us acts, reflects upon one another, as all we do is interwoven into the tapestry of the whole.

If each of us individually maintains a high level of morality—an example is set for all we come into contact with. We become a bright and positive beacon by our enlightened example.

At work, by maintaining our own high standard of morality, we contribute to setting a positive atmosphere.

We spend the better part of the day, most days, at work, interrelating. Work becoming a perfect chance for us to make a positive change in the world.

Morality is the outcome of living for what is best for the situation, moment after moment. Morality keeps us from asserting our self-centeredness to the extent that we think only about our own pleasure, without thinking about the consequences to others from our actions.

Morality is purity in action.

The highest morality is living with a positive attitude that translates into caring actions for others. It is keeping ourselves within the purity of saying and acting on the highest truth we are aware of in the moment. There is the ultimate Truth that we as a soul strive toward, and there is the level of truth we are aware of right now. Morality is the present moment's truth—striving toward the ultimate Truth—acting so that the way is not blocked from view—which is by acting from caring thoughts and feelings.

The Collective Morality
Made from the moral fiber in each of us
Woven into an exquisite pattern of humanity
through maintaining our highest standards

5. Competition

Competition is a mission—a mission to get ahead of where we are.

In all aspects of living we face competition. We compete with ourselves when we want to better our position, or perfect an aspect of ourselves.

It is unhealthy competition when we push another aside to get our way—when we push another aside, when they rightfully belong where they are.

In the workplace, it is healthy competition to compete against ourselves in order to learn new and better job skills—and in this way qualify ourselves to get ahead. It is unhealthy competition to try to oust another from their position by subterfuge.

The antidote for unhealthy competition is consideration for what serves the highest and most truthful purpose in the circumstance.

Trying to get ahead is great when it involves improving the quality of our own skills and then doing a job search to find that better job.

Trying to get ahead when we downplay another person, or try to take over another's position is unjust to them, and unjust to ourselves as the end result in either case, is that we lose our peace of mind, and rob the other of what was theirs. Another downside to unhealthy competition in that we reinforce negativity in ourselves at the expense of seemingly getting ahead. We are actually not getting ahead within our  character. We are debasing the quality of the person that we already are.

To keep competition healthy in the workplace requires that each person get ahead because of the work done by their own merits—not by doing what undermines another. Promoting our good points is healthy, while at the same time we do not point out another's weaknesses. Improving our job skills is healthy, so that we can naturally stand out in the competition.

Competition is present in all aspects of living

It is in the way we compete for survival and growth
that either improves the quality of our character
Allowing us to feel peace of mind
Or debases us, when we push others aside—
disturbing our own peace of mind
and causing distress in another's life

Healthy competition—
Improving ourselves
Improving our skills and character
Unhealthy competition—
Usurping another's character or qualities

Healthy competition—
Bettering our own character and skills
That we may shine above the rest

6. Constructive Criticism

Verbally giving 'constructive' criticism is not really constructive when shared out of anger or frustration from not getting our own way. In lashing out to correct another's action, we are showing that we ourselves need to take a correction in respect and good manners.

We best teach through the example of our own living. If we see a need to give constructive criticism to our children, we can calmly tell them how we would best solve a similar problem—using examples from our own childhood or the scriptures. Remembering, that all holy scriptures are valuable tools—teachings for forming our conscience in knowing what is helpful from harmful in our relationships. But again, as adults, lashing out at another adult only debases us in the process.

If a verbal criticism is presented to us in a calm manner, with kindness, then we might consider what is being offered—it may contain something useful to us—a new tool for us to use in our daily living.

If in the presence of one who is lashing out at me under the pretext of constructive criticism, I distance myself. If on the phone, I hang up. If in the same room, I leave. This gives tempers a chance to cool—allowing the truly constructive ideas to come up again when they can be calmly shared as useful ideas.

In the workplace, at home, or anywhere, we must relate in a way that preserves the human dignity of the situation. That means we can share what we see as useful ideas when we are calm—and then be prepared that the recipient of our sharing may choose not to use our ideas. Their choice.

The bottom line is that constructive criticism is only useful when given and received in calmness and kindness—in the spirit of sharing from a caring attitude.
7. Identifying with Spiritual Reality

How can I identify with spiritual reality in everyday living?

Often we wonder how to identify with spiritual reality in our daily lives. I feel in the flow of 'spirit' when I act on the uplifting esoteric qualities: kindness and caring, gentleness, and goodness in particular. I have found that these qualities take me beyond self-centeredness into Self-givingness, allowing me to interrelate with others and the rest of creation constructively.

When I'm being positive and acting constructively in my thoughts, words, and actions I feel in tune with the prevalent harmony around me, in 'my' universe. And I have reflected that the unseen and seen creation is formed from the interactions and harmonious functioning of each of the parts, interwoven into the many patterns of existence—and in that spiritual realization I feel expanded beyond my bodily limitations.

Acting with goodness and kindness I feel like my energy and life is weaving a harmonious pattern into our world tapestry—I feel happy extending beyond my bodily self.

Living with the Conscious Spirit is more than thoughts or ideas for the higher good. It is taking powerful control of creating for ourselves a present and a destiny that ever increases in scope of understanding and happiness.

We came here via our parents, and they via their parents. But our destiny is not all genetically pre-ordained. While on earth we have many opportunities to extend our own and our dear ones' consciousness and capacity to love and be loved, by living in tune with the qualities of spirit—those unseen qualities that energize our body, uplift our mind, and brighten ours and others' lives.

We are identifying with our spiritual reality when we live in peacefulness with kindness, gentleness, and love.
8. Justifying Our Efforts

In the workplace, or anywhere, we can praise ourselves for our just efforts.

When we give the best of ourselves we reap peace of mind and contentment, internally. And in the workplace, doing good work, in line with our job description, justifies the effort we put in.

We can justify our time and effort spent in striving for personal betterment, because, the better we each become, the more people around us benefit—from our improving attitudes, caring thoughts and actions.

Time spent on ourselves
When that time is for our betterment
Our expansion in consciousness

Those around us benefit from our expanding consciousness—it is contagious. When a light shines upon us, we are made visible—we reflect that light. When the people around us have justified their time for betterment, and become shining examples of humanity, we, too, bask in that warmth, becoming more enlightened ourselves—through their example and the influence of goodness.

Justifying our efforts
at work
or in any endeavor fulfilling our obligations
Rightly gives us satisfaction
Peace of mind

Growth in consciousness
Becoming better people
Justifies the effort we put in
and take out
As brighter lights in the world

9. Maintaining Equanimity for Successful Living

A commentary written especially for women—and men who wish to understand them...

Personal Equanimity
the balance that allows us to bend
without falling over
in changing circumstances

We are traveling through a unique time of transition in our personal lives and work history. Each of us is evolving individually, while concurrently expanding into new roles in society.

Whenever we are in transition, we are traveling to an unfamiliar destination along an unfamiliar road. Our bodies, minds, and emotions are tuned to a higher pitch, drawing on our reserves—to do what is unfamiliar takes a greater concentration of energy than just repeating habitual actions.

Here are some ways we can educate or re-educate ourselves for all-over success in living:

1. aerobic activity—a stronger heart beats slower under stress;
2. healthy eating;

3. Adopting positive attitudes—acting for the best resolve of a situation to retain peace of mind;
4. Practicing rhythmic breathing, deep relaxation, and introspection;

5. Showing care for others through action—putting love into practice is uplifting.

During major transitions, keeping some familiar habits in our daily routine provides continuity and stability—giving the road ahead a more stable base.

Traveling through transitions occurs more easily
by carrying along baggage
of familiar habits and activities

While educating or re-educating ourselves to be successful in the outside world we need to remember—hold on to—that which brings us true satisfaction: inner harmony and contentment. Even when life is full of turbulent events, we preserve our sense of contentment by aligning—harmonizing—with the directive of our conscience. The guidance of our conscience is the buoy that keeps us afloat in the tossing seas of life.

When that unpredictable wave threatens to pull us under, we have the guidance of our conscience to hang onto.

True satisfaction
contentment maintained through life's turmoil
by holding onto the life preserver of conscience consistently

For countless generations we, as women, have made our whole life around the home. This is actually to our advantage during this time of transition, because we have developed our ability to nurture. Now is the time to nurture ourselves by taking good care of our own physical, mental, and emotional needs—then we are best fortified for our journey into and active, productive participation in the world. By nurturing others' creative ideas in society and at work, we provide a broader base of possible solutions. As ideas compound from the ideas preceding, each idea becomes a building block of the finished product. By logically and caringly bringing our ideas into, and encouraging others to bring their ideas into thought and form, we participate in the natural order of creative cooperation in the universe.

Thoughts—ideas energized
Creation—thoughts energized
Forms in creation—ideas in use

In Summary: Throughout most of history we have been caring for our families at home. Today, during this period of transition—from being just at home to being at home and where our expanding roles are taking us—we have the opportunity to use our well developed quality of nurturing with our larger world family. And to maintain equanimity while out in the world, we can educate ourselves in the physical, mental, and emotional practices (listed at the beginning of this article) that maintain our optimal health. By following our conscience, and taking our nurturing qualities with us, we are then ready and prepared from within, to keep up to speed in our outer roles in society.

Success in life by educating ourselves
in the ways to stay
physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy

By following our conscience we maintain equanimity and contentment, while becoming immersed in our expanding roles in society.
10. Pleasing Others

Pleasing others. Pleasing ourselves. Which way do we go?

At work, we have to please our boss by doing our job correctly—or, if we are the boss, we have to please our employees by giving them what is rightfully owed them.

So, in society we need to please others that we are responsible to, by doing what we say we are going to do. And all the while we need to be pleasing to ourselves; we need to act from our highest and most aware consciousness.

Pleasing ourselves, while at the same time fulfilling our responsibilities, is the challenge.

To be the most pleasing to ourselves we need to:

1. Take care of our general health—that we may have a good 'vehicle';
2. Treat others with respect and kindness;
3. Do what we say we are going to do—keep our word;
4. Search out our Source of all love and happiness through meditation and prayerfulness.

The better we become by being good and doing good, the more pleasing we are to ourselves.

Pleasing others
Pleasing ourselves
Living each day from our highest consciousness
while fulfilling our obligations
Fulfilling our obligation
to ourselves foremost
by seeking out the Source of all goodness
and aligning ourselves within harmony, accordingly

11. Stress Relief

Stress Relief. Relief from the debilitating effects of stress.

We usually think of stress as a negative—and stress allowed to build up till we are overwhelmed at home, or at work, does take us out of our personal harmony.

If we learn to read the signs of stress in ourselves as it builds up, we can then take the steps to de-stress. Built up stress affects our body-mind. It can cause headaches, stomach aches, ulcers, hypertension, heart disease, strokes, and the inability to perform even routine tasks effectively. Our thinking may become illogical—when we are on overdrive we cut out the normal sequence of analyzing events as they are happening—we instead become reactionary. Recognizing these signs in ourselves, or by someone else telling us what they see happening to us, is the first step in de-stressing.

These are ways that I help myself de-stress and recover my peace and harmony:

1. Pin-point the problem that I am reacting to stressfully;
2. Remove myself from the scene and go on a long brisk walk—but any other aerobic exercise would serve the same purpose;
3. Write out the stressful situation and then analyze which parts are stressful for me to deal with;
4. Write out and act on a plan of action that logically resolves the situation that led to my being overwhelmed—overstressed.

This little 4-part sequence sometimes takes days or weeks to work through. The deeper the effects of stress on us, the longer it takes to make the changes that are necessary become permanent.

It requires effort
to make change effective
over the long run

But, feeling a little bit of stress gets us motivated to adapt and change—it is in feeling stress that we take action for change. The problem comes when we do not recognize, or make the little changes as we go along. Stress then mounts and mounts, becoming

For myself, when I feel a headache coming on, or lose my appetite, or feel lethargic, I know that something is affecting me stressfully. I then take that long walk, thinking about all the possible situations in my life that could be causing me to feel overwhelmed. Headache, loss of appetite, and feeling lethargic are my early warning signals that it is time to take action for change.

In summary, stress relief is relieving ourselves of the conditions causing us to feel overwhelmed and out of control. And stress relief can be brought about through the 4-part plan outlined above: 1. pinpointing the problem; 2. removing ourselves from the situation; 3. analyzing to determining a better course of action; 4. putting out the effort for change. Then, remembering at the early signs of stress to adapt to the changes needed to keep from becoming overwhelmed.

Stress is really our pal. Stressful feelings in our body-mind let us know that we need to make positive changes in our lives.
12. 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—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 we are feeling impatient with.

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.

In summary, 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.


Susan Kramer, M.A., M.Div. is 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, Greek and Spanish, and with her husband, Stan Schaap-, resides in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
web site
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further reading
Meditation Site at Bella Online, Susan Kramer, Editor

Books for teaching toddlers to teens by Susan Kramer

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