How many hours will you sit to do yoga and meditation this week? How many hours will you spend working? For all but a few, time spent working will far exceed even the most avid spiritual practice. So why not make work part of your practice? This is not a new idea: working zazen, doing God’s work, karma yoga. In fact, every interaction we have with matter is an exercise of the soul discovering itself. In work, as well as in relationships and our physical health, we get to see the fruits of our karma, feel the status of our consciousness, learn, and grow. Let’s take a fresh look at work as a vehicle of union with the Self.
The soul comes to human form seeking to manifest its uniqueness. It seeks forms to ever more perfectly paint its picture, until there is no difference between the True Self, what you do, and how you do it. When these harmonize, life feels satisfying, peaceful, and fulfilled. Fulfillment through work is possible, but the very idea of doing one’s life’s work, or following one’s calling, can find us trapped in old habits and motivations.
Following are some characteristic transitions that occur in how we relate to work, described in terms of shifts. Shifts represent evolutionary upgrades in the fundamental ways we operate as humans that allow us to function more effectively. We can alter a mental or behavioral habit in a moment by truly “getting” that there is another way or reality. Hold that possibility as you read the work ethic shifts below. Find the ones you are drawn to and are ready to make.
1. The Level of Play Shift: From ‘work is about survival’ to ‘work is about self-expression’
Anyone reading this article is probably not working for bare sustenance, but may feel that way as a result of unhealed trauma and long-held beliefs. There are many techniques available to help clear the past if such patterns persist. With so many beings and talents in this world, your most competitive advantage in the marketplace is to allow the soul, which is unique, to fully and clearly express itself through you and your work. No one is better at being you, but you’ll never touch that inner gold while pursuing others’ goals. Career counseling to discover talents and options, life coaching to move from needs to values, and methods to develop and follow intuition are a few ways to support this shift.
2. The Source Shift: From ‘outwardly motivated’ to ‘inwardly prompted’
When we are driven by outside influences, we do this in order to get that, and this is something we have not truly chosen. Be famous so millions will love you. Be a doctor so Dad will be proud. Make money to feel secure. Accomplishment is produced this way but comes at great expense and lacks fulfillment. For instance, seeking a new career “so that” – there may be an assumption that a new situation will bring relief from some difficulty, or more time or money, which will bring more freedom, which will bring more happiness or peace. Upon deeper inquiry, one can begin to hear what the soul is calling out for, some aspect or ability that has been dormant and seeks expression. When that is brought to the forefront of awareness, it can be developed immediately, for which development current circumstances may be perfect. Questioning long-held motives and meditatively inquiring how you feel about your pursuits, as well as what you feel most satisfied doing, is a way to begin this shift. Write down and honor what you discover. You don’t have to make any radical changes, but allow yourself to sit with surprising inner answers; if nourished, they may germinate.
3. The Operational Shift: From ‘emphasis on doing’ to ‘importance of being’
How you feel about your accomplishments and how you achieved them will outlast the glory of the moment. Recent history is rife with examples of shortsighted trades of wealth and power at the sacrifice of virtues, values, and other qualities that make us feel good about ourselves in the long run. You probably don’t remember who won last year’s gold medals or Oscars, but can you remember those who have touched you in great ways? Which is more important? It’s true that at the moment of death we review our entire lives, but we judge it not in terms of what we did, but how we did it, how we felt, and how clearly our Being performed its tasks, monumental and mundane. To operate more from being, try focusing on behavior rather than on accomplishments or possessions.
4. The Attraction Shift: From ‘struggle, pursue, make it happen’ to ‘project, attract, and respond’
This is the yogi’s way: Work inwardly to polish the projection, and then let it do the work. It takes trust in the Universe, patience, and surrendering your timeline to God. Begin by developing the 6th and 7th chakras and the aura. All methods that release the past, as well as attachment to the future, and declaring the present as perfect (gratitude) will help. To attract opportunities, use techniques and support that develop self-acceptance, self-esteem, personal radiance, and projection.
5. The Oneness Shift: From ‘success = individual achievemen’ to ‘success = welfare of the group’
It’s folly to think we can accomplish anything without the intricate web of all life. Team effort, lots of support, delegation to specialized talent – these don’t just make good sense and create ease; they are necessary to truly succeed in this world. In Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great, he describes one characteristic of today’s best corporate leaders as “a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.” The best performing leaders seek success for the company above their own notoriety. Building network and community are learnable skills; embracing them gives immediate benefit.
6. The Bigger Picture Shift: From ‘I am doing this and it is important’ to ‘God is the Doer and it is His play’
The first leads to a false sense of self-importance and stress. Seeing it all as maya, a movie in which you are cast in order to experience, learn, and grow, can make for an enjoyable ride. Religion has been the traditional source of this paradigm and offers a vast array of teachings and techniques. It can begin as a belief but must ultimately be experienced directly. Knowing and feeling your Self as directed and guided by a higher power can be both relaxing and liberating.
These six shifts of consciousness regarding work can make your life more satisfying by bringing your daily activity into alignment with your purpose. Finding your life’s work and discovering that you are always doing your life’s work, always doing your spiritual practice, become one and the same.
The following meditations address different aspects of our relationship to work, by balancing aspects of the mind that connect our inner and outer lives, opening the window from soul to action.
Meditations for Shifts to an Aquarian Work Ethic
For Shifts 1 & 2:
Karani Kriya: This kriya helps you to feel secure, so you can immerse yourself into a role without losing a confirmed sense of your Self. You can perform action in the world to enhance and express the Self. This solves the problem of finding how to make a lucrative livelihood and satisfy the soul at the same time.
Sit with straight spine. Raise the arms in front of the torso with the forearms parallel to the ground at shoulder height. Bend the elbows so the fingers can point toward each other in front of the throat center, palms facing down. Bend the ring and little fingers of both hands under the thumb on the palm. Extend and touch the tips of the index and middle fingers to the tips of the same fingers of the opposite hand. Close the eyes to 1/10th open. Create a precisely timed pattern of pranayam: Inhale for 2 to 3 seconds. Hold the breath in for 5 seconds. Completely exhale for 10 to 15 seconds. Continue for 11 to 31 minutes. Then inhale deeply. Relax.
From The Mind, its Projections and Multiple Facets by Yogi Bhajan.
For Shifts 3 & 5:
Apostle Projection: This meditation is said to link the essence of your purpose to the universal mind and soul of the cosmos. Your message and need are projected to the cosmos, and help and knowledge come back to serve you and complete your goal. It is a prayerful projection for a unified response from the Universe. You learn to rely on the heavens and the greater environment.
Sit with a straight spine. Hold the hands at the level of the heart center. The right hand is on top of the left hand, both palms face down. The right thumb is bent and comes under the left hand and touches the palm. The left thumb is bent and also touches the left palm. The bent thumbs are pressed together so the thumbnails touch. Look at the tip of the nose. Chant the following mantra:
Wha-Hay Gu-Roo Wha-Hay Gu-Roo Wha-Hay Gu-Roo Wha-Hay Jee-o
Lift the navel and diaphragm in rhythm with each Wha. Continue for 31 minutes.
An ideal tape to use is Wahe Guru Jio by Gianiji available through Ancient Healing Ways at www.a-healing.com.
From The Mind, its Projections and Multiple Facets by Yogi Bhajan.
For Shifts 4 & 6:
Kundalini Yoga Laya Meditation: According to ancient yogic tradition, this meditation will bring your soul and destiny to the present. It will let your activity serve your purpose. It will make you creative and focused on your real priorities. You have an expanded sense of life. You feel that the Infinite Will and yours act together. Strong actions combined with nonattachment make life a dance with much creativity and gratitude.
Sit straight. Put the palms together in prayer pose at the center of the chest. Focus at the brow point. Chant:
Ek ong kar-a, Sa ta na ma-a, Siri wha-a, Hay gu-ru
(One Creator Creation) (True Identity) (Great Indescribable Wisdom)
The chant is very precise. On Ek pull in the navel. On each -a lift the diaphragm up firmly. Relax the navel and abdomen on Hey guru. The sound has a “spin” to it. It is a 3 -1/2 cycle rhythm. As you chant, imagine energy and sound spiraling up and around the spinal cord in a right-handed helix. Start at the base of the spine as you initiate the energy from the navel. End with focus over the head to the Cosmos on Hey guru. Continue for 31 minutes. This extraordinary Laya Yoga Chant is said to suspend you above conflicts attracted by success and the activity of the Positive Mind, and help you sacrifice what is needed to accomplish your real prioritiesFrom The Mind, its Projections and Multiple Facets by Yogi Bhajan.
GuruMeher Singh Khalsa is a practicing life coach, helping people to make shifts, achieve excellence, and realize their business, personal, and spiritual goals. He teaches Kundalini Yoga and directs the teacher-training program at Yoga West in Los Angeles, CA. You may contact him at www.Lifesworkcoaching.com or [email protected].