Thursday, January 18, 2007

Zen And Work

Yesterday was a hectic and busy day. Such days challenge my Zen approach to life. It was a day that pulled me out of my comfort zone in the sense that I was not always able to work as I prefer or to keep the balance that I strive to have. I admit that I am a creature of habit and I prefer some routine in my day. I do not like to work in a manner that makes me feel like my hair is on fire. No bald jokes, please! The daily routines I have for myself provide a framework on which I hang all the other activities of my day. As much as I tried to be faithful to this framework yesterday, I kept getting pulled away and distracted. Such is life some days. I accept it when it happens and I deal with it. These days, however, are more exhausting for me than other days. Routines are not a bad thing but we can be too attached to them. If everyday went like I would seemingly prefer, I would soon feel like Bill Murray in the movie "Groundhog Day" where you feel like you are living the same day over and over again. Like the Bill Murray character, however, we can eventually realize that by changing our behavior we can wake up each new day and correct the mistakes from the previous day. Routine helps me to stay focused but I must also have an openness to the surprises and other unexpected things that happen to me. This openness, coupled with a faithfulness to some routine that keeps you "centered" will do much to keep your hair from bursting into flames.

Zen at Work

One way in which you can integrate Zen practice into your job is to focus on a single task at a time. These days there is a lot of pressure on employees to multitask and many people get quite good at it. The problem is that when you multitask, you scatter your energies. Resolve to stop doing more than one thing at a time. We all know how hard it is to get something done properly when we are distracted. This does not mean that you have to finish one task completely before beginning another one; simply that when you are working on something, you should bring your undivided attention to it. If you are filing, file; if you are answering calls, then answer calls. If you are processing claims, process claims. Be where you are and do what you are doing.

Be like water. Flow around obstacles.

Control your emotions or they will control you.

Recognize the inherent harmony of everyday life. Seek balance in your life between work and home, work and family, work and yourself.

Recognize the priceless irreplaceability of the present moment.

Empty your cup and fill it with today's lessons. You are getting feedback every moment of everyday...use it.

Focus on process, not product. If you attend to your present work properly, you will meet your goals.

Train yourself to respond unconsciously, not intellectually. Simple things, including most "people skills", are most effective when they spring, unforced, from your true nature.

Most of our fears are about the future, which hasn't happened yet and isn't real. Fear drains energy from the present moment.

Allow yourself pauses. It is the rest that refreshes. Without the pause, all you have is noise.

Make time to clear your mind, because only a clear mind can act, and react, effectively.
Remove distractions and free your mind. The aim is to make your work environment reflect a calm and still state of mind, uncluttered by distractions. The undistracted mind is more efficient and free to react quickly to all circumstances.

Zen encourages graceful flow and movement.

"It goes without saying that as soon as one cherishes the thought of winning the contest or displaying one's skill in technique, swordsmanship is doomed."
-Takano Shigeyoshi

These thoughts on Zen at Work are from the book entitled "Zen in 10 Simple Lessons" by Anthony Man-Tu-Lee and David Wei

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