Too often the word work is used in the sole context of employment.
What happens when we use it in its fullest term to include everything we do?
Work isn’t always paid and we’re not always employed to work. Work is a physical or mental activity—any effort made with the intention of producing or accomplishing something. Work is an act or a deed, an artistic, academic or engineered creation—the transfer of energy from one physical system to another. Work is what we do all the time, the way in which we make a living and the way in which we lead our lives.
It is work to get up with each day, it is work to prepare meals for yourself and your loved ones.It is work to practice yoga daily even though you know it brings nothing but benefit! It is work to watch a film, dance to your favorite music, read a book or go for a walk. It is also work to sit still and watch the mind run away like a cheeky monkey only to continuously bring it back to the present moment (this being a common experience of meditation practice).
Considering the amount of work it takes to live may seem overwhelming but if we consider work in its true sense then it can become a joy.
There’s no denying the need to do something; we all have responsibilities, commitments and obligations from time to time we’d rather not! How we do though, that’s where we can choose (to some degree at least) to feel joyful or drained as we work.
There’s also no need for us to suddenly quit our day-jobs, run off to India, join an ashram and become ascetics (unless you wish to of course!)
For most of us, valuing the work we do means making small adjustments. It’s a subtle shift in our mental state from frustrated or bored to glad or interested. We need to learn to love our lives a little more.
This really does include everything from working on a relationship to working for a corporation. To treat work as a way to worship life is to experience everything as fully as we can.
If we are not fully ourselves, truly in the present moment, we miss everything. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Being present simply means being aware of what we are doing, where and when we are doing it. Most of us seem to have forgotten how much effort it took to learn how to walk and talk, drink and write. We spent the first few years of our lives learning how to do these things, and it took great effort! We take these things for granted to our detriment, which is why meditation often includes walking practices and extended periods of silence.
Life becomes more and more wonderful when we don’t take anything for granted.
By being present, in every moment, we become more aware of our intentions and actions—in turn becoming more in control of ourselves. This helps us to realize what we can and cannot change in our own lives and in our communities.
If we slow down, we create the space we need to realize the wonder of where we already are and what we already do. If we look in detail at our environments, we realize how complex and wonderous things just are. Spend 10 minutes, an hour or a full day studying the physical complexity of a walnut. Try to comprehend just how big the universe is. Look in detail at a human face and all the experiences that are marked upon it.
Life is already amazing!
Considering life in its smallest and greatest detail helps put our worries and concerns into perspective, giving us a sense of space and calm. Work becomes something we do to honor this wonder of life. Our desires and expectations are slowed down when we work in a way that honors the precious nature of every moment. We become joyful in just being.
Laura Dorantt lives in Australia and loves the beach, the bush and the veggie patch. She believes that humanity would benefit from serving more and consuming less. If you’d like to connect, please find her on Facebook.
Ed: Lacy Rae Ramunno