Spirituality in the Workplace: Mindfulness-Inspired Strategies for Productivity and Self-Management

Spirituality in the Workplace: Mindfulness-Inspired Strategies for Productivity and Self-Management

Stephanie Bianchi (Mindful Guatemala Foundation, Guatemala)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9893-0.ch009

Abstract

The importance of approaching life in an interconnected way seems to be on the rise. Interconnectedness, a concept that lies in the heart of many spiritual practices, stems from the realization that we inter-are with one another and everything in the universe. Just as our view of life undergoes profound evolution, the emergence of spirituality in the workplace advances at rapid speed. Today, more people are finding fulfillment, inspiration, and purpose in their jobs by bringing spirituality into their activities. This chapter addresses the increasing necessity of allowing spirituality to flourish in the workplace in the quest for better understanding our role as a whole. Furthermore, this chapter aims to provide organizations practical mindfulness-based strategies for enhancing self-management, productivity, and inside-out leadership in the workplace. Reinforcing an inside-out approach though the chapter, the author exposes the need for leaders to adopt an interconnected view into their workplaces in order to contribute in building a more sustainable and harmonious world.
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Introduction

Interconnected View of Life

In many ways, our perspective on life is profoundly different than it has been at any other time in human history. At present, we are undergoing a fundamental shift in perspective from the notion of separation to the concept of interconnectedness that encompasses all aspects of our humanity. As we awaken to the notion of interconnection and interdependence, we recognize there are essentially two ways of perceiving and approaching life.

The first view is that all beings and things exist independently from one another and that the world is a collection of independent events. According to this perspective, the existence of beings, things and circumstances is unrelated to the existence of others.

On the contrary, the second world view posits that everything in the Universe, rather than existing independently, exists in relation to one another. To expose the latter and the concept of “inter-being”, renowned Zen Master and poet Thich Nhat Hanh (1992) explains: “...you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are.” (p.100).

Thus, from a narrow perspective, we perceive ourselves as being independent from the sun, the air and other beings, due to the fact that we are clearly separate in material terms. However, from a wider stance, we are able to recognize that what comprises us as human beings is in fact interconnected, even when each component seems inextricably different from one another. Without the sun to stay warm, the air to breath and the earth to live from, our bodies cannot exist. Likewise, without our mind and consciousness to notice the sun, the air and the earth, these elements could not take their shape and form, as everything is interdependent and relative to each other.

As Thich Nhat Hanh (1992) explains further “Looking even more deeply, we can see we are in it too. This is not difficult to see, because when we look at a sheet of paper, the sheet of paper is part of our perception. Your mind is in here and mine is also. So we can say that everything is in here with this sheet of paper. You cannot point out one thing that is not here - time, space, the earth, the rain, the minerals in the soil, the sunshine, the cloud, the river, the heat. Everything co-exists with this sheet of paper. That is why I think the word inter-be should be in the dictionary. “To be” is to inter-be. You cannot just be by yourself alone. You have to inter-be with every other thing. This sheet of paper is, because everything else is.” (p.104).

Even though, the first view of the world has greatly dominated the way we live up until now, the importance of approaching life in an interconnected way seems to be on the rise nowadays. Interconnectedness, a concept that lies in the heart of many spiritual practices, stems from the realization that we are all far more than just the sum of our parts, but instead we inter-are with one another and everything in the Universe. Consequently, we are not independent but interdependent of every single element present in our current experience of life.

Simultaneously, and more so in recent years, science has reached similar conclusions that suggest a unity in everything existing in the Cosmos. Through observation and reasoning, scientific fields like quantum mechanics and consciousness studies now postulate that the world of matter, energy, space and time are inextricably interdependable to the presence of consciousness. These findings have proven to be quite revolutionary as these two elements were once thought to be separate from one another. The degree of inseparably interdependence is believed to be such, that ultimate progress in one might be impossible without progress in the other. As we witness the convergence of spirituality and science into comparable cosmovisions, we are more able to shift our perception of separation to realizing that there is a primal level of existence is which there is no separation between ourselves and our environment.

Through the deep understanding of interconnectedness, a more holistic approach to life has also been developed. In recent years, different areas of our daily lives have embraced such perspective of holism. For instance, the field of holistic medicine, a form of healing that takes into account body, mind, spirit and emotions in pursuit of optimal health is a perfect example of this growing trend. Similarly, wholesome education aims to promote training of not only the intellect but also the refinement of the heart and the discipline of the spirit. Ultimately and more recently, a holistic approach to business and management has been adopted by great important companies such as Google, Apple and Facebook. These companies understand the shift that is taking place and are currently setting a trend worldwide regarding spirituality in the workplace. When adopting a more holistic view of life, one is able to get a full grasp of the whole, enabling us to see the full picture of our lives instead of just pixels of our minds, bodies, spirits and the entirety of the Universe.

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