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Spirituality at Work

2013-04-06 11.25.39By Stephanie Gretchen Burgevin. Stephanie is a writer and retreat leader. She is an associate faculty member of Shalem and a graduate of theirLeading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats Program and leads spiritual and secular programs. Stephanie manages Shalem’s blog and is one of the social media coordinators for the Shalem Institute Facebook page.

Being contemplative, bringing your spiritual self fully into the workplace can be a challenge. I’ve never been very boisterous about my religion so trying to find the balance between being true to myself spiritually while not making anyone else uncomfortable has been a little tricky at times when I’ve worked in an office. I worried about making someone feel uncomfortable or excluded.

However, I had a refreshing, inspiring experience this week at a marketing conference I just attended.

I was happily surprised that many of the speakers, both keynote and regular, talked at length about being true to oneself, finding balance in life, and being vulnerable with coworkers and one’s clients. One speaker even quoted Buddha! Yes, you read correctly, I was at a marketing conference, not a meditation conference.

This is a sign of great hope for me. These were top-notch experts in the field, all were highly successful business people, and attendees came from Tanzania, Germany, India, Canada, the U.S. to name a few!

I work from home, so the idea of being contemplative during business hours is no longer a stretch for me. When I am having trouble creating something, I meditate on it, take the project into prayer. I have an icon on my desk and a spiritual photo on my wall.  I can be as steeped in Spirit as I want and remember to be.

But this theme of personal truth, balance, generosity, and love was a new high in the business world for me. Could this signal a shift in the business world away from dog-eat-dog greed? How can we support being contemplative at work?

Have any of you experienced this in your work life? Are you seeing a shift in the business mindset?

10 responses to “Spirituality at Work”

  1. Pamela Lewis says:

    I’m now retired, but at my last job in communications/publications, my best friend at work–a self-described “Presby/Jew” by birth and a Jew by practice (along with Buddhist leanings)–and I (cradle Episcopalian, Shalem spiritual guidance certificate) were known to each other as Rumi and Rumi2. Not quite sure what that all means but we did have a great deal of spiritual fun together. I miss seeing her daily.

  2. Judy Proctor says:

    Take a look at this link http://www.executivesoul.com
    I’m currently participating in the “Soul of Leadership,” an 18 month program of finding and maintaining soul in leadership situations. Margaret Benefiel and Deborah Jackson have done some great work. I wholeheartedly recommend their writing and leadership.
    There is indeed a shift happening that is calling us to be more contemplative in the workplace, which is desirable for employers and workers alike because it makes us more effective in what we do.

  3. That IS encouraging. My career has been in politics on Capitol Hill, so the spiritual connections seem few and far between. One time I asked President Carter about this dynamic, and he answered, “Contrary to popular opinion, God lives in D.C., too.” I always kept his words close to my heart as I tried to follow Jesus.
    Something I always noticed, though, is that when there was turmoil in the office or when someone had a personal crisis, people often came by my office to talk, even if I didn’t know them too well. I believe that my time spent in contemplation and intentional connection with God was borne out in my day-to-day actions and words – in my spirit, I guess. People sensed a balance and came near when they were off-kilter. (Not to say I didn’t get seriously off balance at times!)
    Once a woman asked me why I always seemed so calm amidst the storms, and I took a deep breath and told her about my spiritual beliefs. I rarely did that – I am mindful of the biblical direction to be ready to talk about your faith WHEN YOU ARE ASKED. She was very receptive and we became friends.
    Thanks for your thoughts, and for your question. I am in the middle of a career change and will become a college teacher – another hectic, noncontemplative job!

  4. Barbara says:

    I home from home myself with one client at a time . Many times before working with a client I take the time to pray or mediate . It help me to be at peace and more attentive to my client when coming in . I become more presence to what or who I am with. Peace

  5. Taking that time and space to pray or meditate makes such a difference! I just wish I always remembered! Peace, Barb.

  6. Stephanie, i’m encouraged by your experience at the conference. It strikes me that there has been a general shift in the workplace toward recognizing teamwork and collaboration …as opposed to rewarding individual efforts…and perhaps it follows that these new success drivers will make the workplace a more mindful and contemplative environment…

  7. an increasingly cynical worker says:

    I see an increase in corporate greed, misinformation, and lack of ethics. Many corporations talk a good game about work/life balance and integrity, but they abuse their employees and cheat their clients and the regulatory authorities. This is true for nonprofits and even institutional churches. I have seen this repeatedly in my own experience and that of my friends and family. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and getting worse, not better.

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