Spiritual Balance (4 of 4)

How was the week? Did you walk in someone else’s shoes?

Another one of the eight steps is ‘Great Compassion’, showing our feelings towards the ones that have less than we do. Understanding or having empathy for the ones that suffer and helping them to come out of the suffering. If that is a homeless person or your child or a friend or a complete stranger, if they are in misery try to help them feeling better. And my suggestion would be to do that before you help yourself.

Maybe an example could be a rough flight in a plane and you and others get scared. Try to calm down others first and show them that you protect them before fighting your own fear. By doing so you already fighting your own fear and calm your mind automatically. This might sound selfish but helping others means you help yourself at the same time. Giving to charity makes you feel good about yourself whilst still helping others.

Samsara, the constant reborn cycle in Buddhism, does not allow for any true happiness, e.g. enlightenment. Buddha (Gyatso, 2000, page 123) compared living in samsara to sitting on top of a pin – no matter how much we try to adjust our position it is always painful, and no matter how hard we try to adjust and improve our samsaric situation it will always irritate us and give rise to pain. True happiness can be found only by attaining liberation from samsara. By developing a desire for all living beings to experience pure happiness, we attain liberation. 

Another one of the great philosophical pieces in Buddhism is about the victory and accepting defeat. What I mean by that is simple: let others win. Whether this is the argument at work or someone insisting on being right in something, just accept their opinion and let them move on and you move on. No use to actually fight over something, let them win and in your heart you can feel like the winner. I once had that with a co-worker who did not seem to be too keen on me and tried to make me feel really bad. So I let him speak and he started shouting as I did not react in the same way he expected me to react. However, when I calmly accepted some of his points he made but questions some others, he still continued trying to win a battle he already lost. He was aggravated, not happy and wanted (!) to be right. I did not. I agreed and moved on to more important things, and he walked away feeling proud to have won an argument but being empty inside. I was smiling all day long for him being so foolish. Besides I saw his true face, something worth more than trying to claim victory.

All this comes down to giving rather than receiving things, arguments or energy. I am prepared to give to others in order to help them. I get satisfaction from doing so.

Bodhichitta is the word for the mind striving for enlightenment. For me it is an open mind that lets thoughts of others in, gives others and put others above themselves. A good human being you could argue based on a Buddhist philosophy. I do not mind what you call it, for me this is a way of living and dying and imagining that we are only a small part in the greater game of the universe, being reborn into new lives. A fascinating thought, an endless circle of suffering.

Whilst most examples I used were from Buddhism, a lot of cultural similarities can be found in other religions. I grew up to be a Lutheran Protestant (Christian) and never really understood the differences in Christianity, including Catholicism, when fighting for the same cause. Religion has always had a bad taste with wars being fought over which religion is right. This is not my discussion to have, but I see Buddhism as a philosophy rather than a religion with the same ethical principles as most other religions, however yet somewhat deeper inside, more neutral and more helpful in regards to personal development.

I hope you found this chapter useful. I could probably write a whole book on it…maybe later in life.

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Spiritual Balance (3 of 4)

We came a long way. Accepting those challenges and being open for the universal signs of spiritual development is important.

As I believe only with a complete unity and fulfilment of all of Maslow’s levels, you will be able to be a happier and more complete person. Finding sanctuary in meditation, dwelling on problems and then letting go and asking the spirits and energy for solutions, will make you a more content person.

However, it is not only about the analytical way of seeing it but about the spiritual path and inner acceptance of things and letting go of your analytical mind. Let the mind flow and believe, in yourself and your destiny, from deep within.

I believe that the purpose of you in life is a lot bigger than you could imagine. The inner satisfaction and growth you get by looking beyond the first four stages of Maslow’s pyramid and going beyond will make you a more rounded person with more energy to give to others. It will result in a bigger and better you in all aspects of life. It takes awhile to develop though; do not expect anything over night!

I read a lot of Buddhist books, including Eight Steps to Happiness (Gyatso, Geshe Kelsang (2000), Eight Steps to Happiness, The Buddhist Way of Loving Kindness, Tharpa Publications). The challenge of reading a lot about a philosophy or religion is that you can have the most profound knowledge but it is down to the application of theories, practising meditation for instance.

Within the eight steps, there is one called ‘learning to cherish others’ which I see as a basic principle of mankind. We should cherish all other human and living beings and be happy for them. That might sound difficult when you just lost your job to someone else or did not get the position, but you should be happy for the person as I believe things meant to be. So if someone else wins a race against you then this is because for whatever reasons the universe decided that this person should win, most probably because s/he was better in something or for you to learn a certain lesson. You should be grateful for that person being able to win and be so good in what they do.

The law of attraction would suggest that if you are happy for them, you will attract happiness into your life. The same is true for love. The way we love a child or a partner or a close family member, we should love all human beings and share our love with them. would not it be nice for us all to share the love with everyone else? It sounds Bohemian or Hippie like but that is how the world comes together by sharing the love and cherishing each other. It is about letting go of ourselves and our self-concern. The universe is not made to circle around us. We are part of it. We are part of the universal love.

Imagine the universe as an energy system. Any negative energy you send out will be balanced with a negative energy same or greater as yours. Same with positive one. The more you send out, the more you receive. The forces in each system are equal.

As part of our spiritual development we should think of walking in someone else’s shoes. We need to understand other humans’ point of view and work towards exchanging ourselves with them and their situation. By doing so and cherishing love, putting others on the priority list above ourselves, we will learn to live a happier and more fulfilled life, attracting more and more love from others too. It is really a win/win situation.

Try it this week, walk in someone else’s shoes this week and see how you got on.

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Spiritual Balance (2 of 4)

From last week we defined that spiritual balance is one pillar of productivity leading you to higher purpose, or giving you a higher purpose in general. This is key to understanding, balancing your life and being able to have a spiritual balance, is life changing – life enhancing.

A common question is about what influence did your family, in particular your mother/father, have on your decisions in life. Did you respect your father as a person and see him as a mentor? Did he beat you as a child and was he an alcoholic beating up your mother?  Was he a great, caring dad and home a lot, be there for you after school?

Answers to those questions can give you a great insight why you are motivated one way or another. You are going deep inside you to identify what drives you on. Finding those answers, identifying those unconscious drivers in a most non analytical way is key to finding your inner purpose and motivation. And some could be a lot more positive!

I am personally of the opinion to not worry about every little detail here. For me I believe that I failed a lot of times in life because I did things for others who I thought had a certain expectation of me. This was for example my parents expecting me to go to university and do a recognised degree. But I failed that and only when I chose to go to the school I chose with the right environment and started doing things for myself, I realised I was not failing anymore. For me it was not about intellect but about attitude and inner support. If you do not believe you can swim, you will ultimately drown! No matter how hard you try, there needs to be a force that pulls you to want to, having “swimming” as a purposeful goal.

Nevertheless, I also believe that things are happening for a reason and are predetermined. Failure just helps you to get off the ground and look at things differently, makes you stronger and in the long run succeed even more. It can lead to total failure but that is down to you. You are the master of your thoughts, your attitude and your mind. However, failure helps to succeed, if you learn from your mistakes.

Building a positive belief system is key. Being able to project yourself into a given situation and being both confident and analytical at the same time, analysing both your outcome and the impact that situation has on you and others is key. Then wanting to grow your impact and grow your inner peace by increasing your footprint on the outside, your influence, will make you a better person. This is of course based on the assumption of you having positive things in mind.

How does spirituality fit in? Old wisdoms from any religion have suggested exactly that. Finding the inner attitude and spirit before riding into battle in the name of God. The prayer for you and others gave you the focus and activated positive energy towards people – and still does. Thinking of people in a positive way causes them to do better and if you are a believer of yourself you can climb the highest mountain.

Spirituality for me is about self awareness, inner peace and self analytics on a deep down level. Asking the universe to send you the right thought or job or person that comes into your life and can help you to just adjust a bit of direction for you to do better. Or the person that is sent to give you a greater challenge and you having to cope more than you normally would have to. To challenge you. To make you grow.

So to summarise week two, we are looking at a pillar that gives you strength and allows you to find purpose in what you do. Giving you energy and will power to succeed in what you want to achieve.

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Spiritual Balance (1 of 4)

This chapter of my book becomes more important as we mature with our research in terms of underlying principles of productivity. So to publish this, it is an in depth discussion on one of the pillars of productivity. How you achieve spiritual balance though, either via religion or any other spiritual practise, is entirely up to you.

As discussed previously, the term work life balance has long been used for people to separate work and life. However, more and more people working longer hours. Hence experts in that topic realised that the term should be changed to life life balance, as you actually balancing two parts of your life. And work seems to be the bigger one in terms of waking hours and security, e.g. money. Also, the boundaries, with always connected mobile devices, are blurred.

However, I believe in order to balance your work, life, yourself, partner, family, etc. you need to have a very holistic approach. There might be individuals that just go to work, 9-5, and then head home to their TV or hobby and do that every day. These people are probably not reading my work either.

But to life there is more than just work. I am a believer to make work part of life and fulfilment as otherwise I waste about 40-60 hours each week to progress with my personal development, and ultimately life fulfilment. That would be a shame.

Maslow’s well known hierarchy of needs talks about 5 stages:

– Physical needs: food, drink, sex

– Safety: family, income, employment

– Love/connectedness: belonging to a group, being married/partner

– Esteem: self-esteem, confidence, respected by others

– Self-actualisation: being worthwhile, achieving what someone wants

If we look at most people’s situation, we are looking at someone that is in employment, has enough food to sustain oneself, either is part of a group or is married and is confident about what she does, and gets respected by others. Latter might be something that is not the case and if so, I suggest getting a coach or good friend to help you to improve your self esteem. You are worth it and sometimes it is just a matter of pulling a few levers, changing a few things on your attitude to realise the impact you have on others and for others to acknowledge the positive impact you have on them.

So from my point of view, if you have a job and a social life outside Facebook, you are in a good state to find fulfilment of the first four stages. Now you could argue that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a bit old, having been established in 1943. I would agree somewhat but for illustration purpose I believe it is still very much relevant. On top of the pyramid sits the purpose and self actualisation. Spiritual Awareness in my eyes. Like the Eye of Providence (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_of_Providence) on the Freemason’s pyramid, but I do not want to drift too far.

For me spiritual awareness is not about a religion per se but about you finding yourself via spiritual means. Finding a purpose beyond earning money and feeding a family. A purpose that is only yours. Your personal reason for life, answering the very one question of “Why am I here on Earth and do the things I want?”. I will not be able to supply you with those answers here and I believe for everyone there is a different reason for being here. Life is about finding those answers that dwell deep inside yourself.

Life is about finding your own purpose, answering your why, and one of the pillars leading to it is spiritual balance.

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Buddhism and Management (3 of 3)

How did your practise go? Did you meditate? How did you find your first steps into looking at the world from a different perspective? Did you manage to quieten your mind and focus on nothing? Did you find some online help on how to meditate?

There are lots of apps, online guidance, guided meditation, and calming music out there, that I don’t think I really need to provide a list. The only App I am happy to recommend is called CALM and the premium version offers you a guided meditation on various topics. I enjoy that now and again and find it useful if you want to fall asleep on a plane or just chill out after a long day in the office whilst your brain is still buzzing. Of course you could quieten your mind yourself but why not get the odd help in doing so?

To conclude, Buddhism helps me to combine my drive to help others, to eliminate mine and other sufferings plus my drive for personal development and happiness. Living by the above helps me to become who I am set out to be. I am a strong believer that we are here on earth for a purpose, that things happen for a reason and that karma, the thought of one action resulting in another action, exists.

A negative thought or action will trigger a negativity elsewhere that comes back to you. Likewise a prayer group that focuses on someone’s health can make this person get better. There is Reiki and other practises that make use of the greater consciousness and the power of thoughts. I am a believer that the positive thoughts you send to someone will reach that person and make a positive difference.

I also have a little altar where I donate 5 gold coins on a regular basis. Once a year I take about 200 pounds sterling to the local bank and donate it to charity. I believe that the money I put away slowly over the year to ask for good spirits will help others in their efforts to improve people’s life. But you need to believe in it and believe it works. If you are doubtful whether or not positive thoughts are helping others, don’t even try. You won’t succeed. Let go of your current believes and give it a go, why not?

The benefits of a spiritual practise for work start with relieving stress by using meditation and mindfulness. It is a little bit like Emotional Intelligence and like managing your energy at work by taking regular breaks. Targets and achievement pressure, or stress, is increasing year on year, creating more and more tension. Being able to shut your mind down for a few minutes, take a deep mental breath and then come back to work all refreshed will help the business as much as the person’s mind. It makes for better, more productive, yet happier employees.

Meditation can create a positive change in your consciousness with the aim to practise to be a good human being, being nice to subordinate staff and practising compassion, helping your staff rather than abusing it. Only a calm mind can do that. Being human again, being aware of your feelings and not to hurt the feelings of those around you, not being recklessly profit driven. In reality I would agree with Forbes’ article that happier workplace make for more productive workplaces, e.g. the benefit for the employees actually benefit the company’s profit. I am sure you find more of those case studies elsewhere.

This leaves me to conclude that living with the other person in mind, mindful about oneself and one’s environment, caring for others, helping others, motivated to help others and taking regular breaks and looking after yourself through exercise and good food, will make you a happier and ultimately a more productive person. I also appeal to the managers out there to encourage people to take prayer or meditation breaks throughout the day.

I encourage to follow a path that makes for better employers, employees and workplaces with sustainable business practises, win/win solutions, trustworthy and content employees as well as happier people – as well as a better you.

What are your thoughts on spiritual practises at work?
Are you applying some of those principles already?

 

This concludes my chapter on Buddhism and Management from my book.

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Buddhism and Management (2 of 3)

After last week’s post to introduce my passion for personal development, the philosophy of Buddhism and the guidance I get from studying and practising it, I want to continue with more discussions around Buddhism and its application to Business and Management.

Buddhism gives me guidance to pure happiness, teaches me patience and makes me happy on the way, the path to enlightenment. I care less about my “luxury and my material values” but more about myself, my partner, other living beings which surround me. The latter are key to any organisation, as other living beings are clearly our co-workers. Particularly if you have managerial responsibility you want to make sure your staff is looked after and happy to work for your organisation. Without that, no one enjoys their job and no one likes contributing to their work.

One could argue that EI (Emotional Intelligence) fulfils a similar wisdom but after having studied EI at University I am personally not convinced of their principles. Whilst this may be a topic for another time, EI in my mind looks at your emotional not your spiritual involvement at work. Hence Buddhism or if you prefer to call it Spirituality looks at a level higher than ourselves that trusts in its application to make this a better place to work.

In a closed system, all forces are equal to zero. As a trained mechanical engineer I can happily say that this is true. And the same is true in this world. If you are giving love to people, make them feel better and genuinely support them for them to gain, not for you to gain, then this is coming back to you in one form or another. The way we share love will result in love being shared with us, as whatever we give comes back. Likewise if you are mean and a bad manager to your staff, this will backfire and negativity comes back.

This is part of “The Secret” which suggests that you need to believe in things to happen and put the effort behind it, living in the trust that things will work out. One needs to trust the universe, visualise things, concentrate on them and helping others to develop and be happy. Then the universe will respond positively towards you. The Law of Attraction.

The thought of doing that, e.g. promoting a co-worker for a job you have done, might sound weird. Yet if you are the manager then anything your staff has done will come back to you either way, good or bad. Hence let the staff take the reward for the big deal they closed or the innovation they brought forward. Be happy for them and show compassion towards them, support them in feeling good about it and praise their work. A good leader does exactly that, a poor manager will try to be in the spotlight herself all the time.

After drifting a bit into other philosophies, I wanted to conclude that whatever you do, it is work in progress as the more you understand your own mind, your own motivation and inner self, the more you will understand the power of attraction, or the law of attraction. This is very much in line with Buddhism, yet Buddhism would probably look less at the personal gain overall than the actual sharing of compassion and helping others. But again, this shows that you need to find your philosophy to unlock your own secret. Mine is Buddhism but any religious or spiritual belief will most probably support this theory in one way or another. Find your own way.

The answers to all our questions are within us, and I believe Buddhism is one good way of unlocking that knowledge. As aforementioned, I am sure many religious groups would offer similar paths.

Start today with some meditation or a thought of looking at your life and see which spiritual way might support your ambition. Maybe you already have a path and find a way of applying this to your current life and life style?

Please share your experience in the comment box below, I am keen to hear how you are experiencing it and how you progress.

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Buddhism and Management (1 of 3)

Now this is the last chapter of my productivity book I wrote back in 2013. So just over a year after I published the book, and over 250 downloads later, my aim is to revisit the chapters and publish them here. Some in abbreviated form, some in full. So there is still value in buying the book and getting the full version. Get it now!

Buddhism has been with me forever probably but since 2005/2006 I have been with Buddhism too. That is when I started looking into it with greater passion, visited meditation classes and connected to people interested in it also.

I understand that not everyone is a Buddhist and hence this part might not appeal to everyone. Whilst I am not necessarily applying all the action to be a great Buddhist, I am putting the principles into action nevertheless. I am hoping to concentrate more on my spiritual development but one day maybe I give up alcohol, possessions and who knows, maybe move to a monastery. This might sound extreme but I had this longing since I was a little boy, to live in a monastery and become a priest. Yet it clashes with my drive to have a career and family, so living along the Buddhist principles and trying to share the love with my surrounding seems like a good compromise.

What I suggest is to set a certain amount of time aside to practise. Whether this is meditating on the train or bus to work, practising patience whilst playing with your children or just being full of kindness all day long. Buddhism, at least for me, is a lot about training your brain and consciousness, living in the now. Being able to let go of any external factors, being able to concentrate on the nothing and then living in the now is an amazing experience. It is about quieting the mind and letting go of those daily niggles we all have. Realising that the comment your co-worker made this afternoon was just not important, and (laughing) that one actually gets wound up is even more ridiculous. Let go.

There has been a lot of writing about Zen and Buddhism around the internet and in various publications. Zen per definition is experimental wisdom, particularly in the form of meditation. I have been thinking about the topic of Buddhism, Management, Business and Personal Development for some time, and it was close to me launching a blog on this topic only. However, this would need a lot more spiritual practise than I can set aside today.

What I want to do is to look at the universal belief and teaching of Buddhism and how this can be incorporated in today’s business and management world. Hopefully I will be able to do that over the forthcoming posts.

For now, I like to answer the question “Why am I interested in Buddhism?”, as I get this asked very frequently. This was first published on Balamadana (2009), a blog I wrote with a friend of mine and monk. Being born into the Christian belief, I came across various religions. However, the Buddhist way of life, a way of a moral life and developing wisdom and understanding of “what’s out there”, fascinated me. It is about being mindful, aware of your thoughts and actions. From my personal development practise, being an NLP Master Practitioner and Coach, Buddhism offered me a different perspective of how to develop to be aware of what I do, how I do it and why I am doing it.

This makes me considering my actions.

Keep letting go, I write more next week.

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