Is Your Work Love Made Visible?

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Hello everyone, this is Myra with Hale Puleʻs Everyday Ayurveda and Yoga podcast.

Our summer here is a peaceful time for enjoying the long days and the bright stars at night. We have a very dark sky here on Kauai where I (used to) live and it's easy to drift off into the countless lights of the universe. I get to commune with them everyday when I take the dogs out before morning practices and just before bed.

So these moments of gazing up at the night sky has me think about the balance in work and life, which is the topic of today's podcast.

You know work is something that each of us has to do and this would be whether you work in your home or out of your home, whether you're caring for children or you're working for someone else.

The Bhagavad Gita suggests that the purpose of life is about right action. The vedas, from which Yoga and Ayurveda came thousands of years before the Bhagavad Gita, talk about the cycle of life including creation and sustenance and destruction.

Now everything in life, including us, is continually going through this process.

You know, if you think about it, we're continually creating new things on so many levels - in our ideas about the future, the next meal we're going to prepare or planning a trip in the future. And then we eat the meal or we take the trip and we have the experience of it and then it's complete.

Likewise, we're born into this body. We go through our life experiences and then the body dies and the eternal spirit goes on.

Some things are around for a while such as a particular job, and then the job might come to an end for many different reasons. Or you start a business and then you have it for many years and then you sell it. It's all just part of the process of life creation, sustaining and dissolution.

So when we look at work on this level, we can see that it's really just a part of life. It's not something that were sentenced to or something extra that we have to do in life and it's a really common trap to believe that there's work and then life happens outside of work.

But that's really a recipe for feeling bad about one third of your life, which is the amount that most of us spend working and it really doesn't sound like much fun and it it's not going to lead us to feeling satisfied in work or the rest of our lives.

It's an attitude that keeps us looking for something outside of ourselves to feel good or feel satisfied, but what if we looked at all of it as the process of life and look inside instead?

So if work feels like drudgery for you, take a look at why that is.

Perhaps you're working in a particular field because someone else thinks it's a good idea.

People often take jobs because their parents instilled in them the idea that this is the only appropriate career for them, or if sometimes we do it just to try to please our parents, or having the fear of not pleasing them.

In my day, I remember it was my child, the doctor for my child, the lawyer, and that usually wasn't what that person really wanted.

Or sometimes we settled for work in the fear of not getting enough money doing something that we really like.

So while you can fill your days with lots of action, it may not be what your heart's calling you to do.

I've actually seen people go into business for themselves, really enthusiastic to be out on their own and out of the environment of working for somebody else, especially working for a large company, but then they fall into the exact same attitude they that they had when they were working for someone else - making decisions out of fear, over working out of fear, a feeling of being controlled by something or someone else, and all of that's going to drain our vitality.

And a lot of people walk around looking for passion or something that will make them feel fulfilled.

And certainly allowing ourselves to step into our own desired path is going to make a big difference, but even with that, it's the attitude that we bring to the everyday experience. Our beliefs will drive our thoughts and our actions.

So I love what Kahlil Gibran had to say about attitude in regards to work. He wrote

“Work is love made visible.

And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it's better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.

For if you make bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half of man's hunger.

And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distills a poison in the wine.

And if you sing, though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man's ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.”

So performing your work in a way to make love visible is what's meant by right action that's talked about in the Bhagavad Gita.

When this is what guides you in your work, you won't complain about having to do more. The work will make you feel whole and provide a sense of satisfaction and that feels good inside and that makes us feel good on the outside. It's a tremendous feeling and we need to allow it for ourselves.

These days, we get in such a hurry that we don't even give ourselves a chance to just experience that feeling. So our attitude is how we direct our energy and that defines our experience.

We’re each 100 percent responsible for it at any point in time.

From Yoga and Ayurveda, the mahagunas of Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas help us to better understand how we're directing our energy and how we can have it flow as we'd like it to.

So these energies are present in all of life. They are present in us and including our minds.

I'll just give a little definition here for those who aren't familiar and as a reminder to everyone else.

Tamas is inertia. It's the darkness in life and decay. In a working environment, that looks like laziness or resistance to doing anything different, resistance to change, and complaining. It can also show up as fear that halts you from taking action like fear of taking a new job or expanding your own view of what you do well. Our beliefs will drive this behavior.

Rajas is our activity. It's activity that can lead to disturbance, the right amount of rajas is necessary in order to get things done. Too much will lead to burnout, which is tamas.

Too much rajas is action like busy work, working for no real purpose or just rushing around with scattered disorganized thinking and a lack of focus and a lack of goals and that leads to mental and physical depletion because the energy is being dispersed and the work isn't really creating more in life and it's particularly not creating more love in your life.

Sattva is balance and harmony. Its lightness and awareness, and in our work it might be action that considers the whole including yourself - actions that are directed toward the betterment of the world, which might be making a better workplace for yourself and your coworkers, or just doing something special for a customer or coming up with a new idea and being willing to process how to implement the idea with others without getting your ego involved.

It's also reflected in moderation in all things, including enjoying the ability to be playful as well as purposeful, so right rajas in the right amount - in other words, the right kind of rajas - will lead us to sattva.

So we have a particular balance of the mahagunas at birth and it comes from our karmas, and then it's shaped by our environment and our choices and how we respond to our environment.

Whatever the attitude was in your home life regarding work, shapes your work experience. Or sometimes we might be in rebellion to the attitude we grew up with, but neither of them are destiny.

When you bring awareness to it, you can see that you can shape that further by how you direct your energy and your responses in life. In other words, your attitude.

You can point yourself towards sattva at anytime in any situation.

Even if your parents hated working and you start out that way, you can grow to enjoy the experience of contributing your part, regardless of what it is.

Or if you've fallen into a pattern of overwork or addiction to work, it's possible to develop a different relationship - it's just by shifting your attitude, which will shift your energy.

Now, that's likely going to involve changing some beliefs and most of us have to become aware of what that belief really is and changing a belief is really just an internal decision.

Ah, you know, I see this as a problem and I can start to see it as something, an opportunity for me to be able to contribute in life or in an opportunity for me to find ways to feel good about myself.

With an attitude based in sattva, which is balance and harmony, the question of how to find balance between work and life really isn't necessary and that's true even when we're doing work that we dislike.

With an attitude of sattva, all of our actions, our dance and it's possible to enjoy ourselves even when it's something that we don't like to do.

I remember when I first came to yoga, I complained a lot about anything and I complained about having to wash dishes because I didn't like to use the dishwasher and actually at the time I was living with some other people and then I was living alone in those early days of my yoga and my yoga teacher finally said to me, she said, ‘I think that you should make washing dishes, your yoga practice’.

And so I did and it really changed my life.

I started to see how much I complained, and that I had some beliefs about things that I needed to just let go of.

If you're ready to shift your attitude about work, step into a life pointed in the direction of sattva, make it your intention. Let it be your goal.

It's important to understand the connection between how you treat your body and the results you experienced in life. What you eat and how you structure your days - meaning having a regular schedule or not, dictates the quality of your work and the choices that you make about how much to take on.

When you have a regular schedule of eating and sleeping, it's much easier to make sattvic choices.

When we let ourselves get irregular and we do too much and don't get enough sleep, it's really easy to make choices that don't go in the direction of sattva.

We're holistic beings and everything affects everything else, so moving towards balance and harmony means taking small steps in your mind and your body and your spirit will delight in the results.

On the mental level, it might be finding gratitude for the challenge of the difficult tasks in front of you. On the physical level, it'd be moving away from your desk to consciously eat lunch in a peaceful place away from email and your phone.

So these small things add up and it becomes easier over time as you start to recognize and experience the feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment that comes with sattvic action and caring for yourself, and it makes it much easier to be caring with others.

Eventually you'll find yourself approaching most things you do with a fresh sattvic attitude.

Eating well and taking care of your body, mind and your five senses leads us to greater health in general and that allows you to be of greater service to the world.

Your usefulness to the world is reduced when you spend your days distracted by symptoms of illness or being in bed because you're sick.

And Ayurveda offers us guidelines for good health, not so that we can feel good and look good for self centered purposes. but so we can live our Dharma, our purpose that's actually supported in this life and that is to be present in everything that we do.

A sattvic attitude leads to the understanding that you're one part of an interdependent world and that there are many others in the world that are depending on you to do your part, just as your depending on others to do their part.

Think about it when you just walk through life, how we're all working together, and then sometimes when we're not doing that very well, things get really difficult.

Seeing yourself in this light of interdependency, it helps us to realize our purpose.

It brings about acceptance and nonattachment about the work that's in front of you so that you can just do it with a great attitude and that will give you lots of support to engage in right action in any situation.

Your work will become more efficient and more fun because work in this nature becomes Karma Yoga and it calms the chatter of the mind. And when you experience this kind of sattvic action in the work you do.

It'll bring harmony and balance into your whole life and work will no longer be something that you just do, it will be how you experience life as love.

Thanks for listening.

As a reminder, we offer Ayurveda trainings, mentoring in Yoga and Ayurveda, and Ayurvedic health consultations that can guide you along your journey to vibrant health. For inspiration and to learn more about what we do, follow us on Instagram and Facebook.

Until next time.

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