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Thread: Zen, Zazen and Work/Business. Questions about incorporating practice into our work.

  1. #1

    Zen, Zazen and Work/Business. Questions about incorporating practice into our work.

    Hello all,

    2020 is still fresh and it would be nice to instill some better habits, especially around Zen practice ! During Ango, a big part of my 'challenge' was work. As Jundo mentioned, this was my Ango! I am hoping, that with some wisdom and more practice I can fully engage with my tasks and duties and learn to be fully present with what i am doing.

    Work looks different for all of us and each of us has different capacities at which we 'work'.

    I am hoping that this thread will help myself and other Sangha members learn how to integrate their practice with their work.

    Some of you have been practicing Zen a long time so it would be great to get your suggestions and advice ! We can support one another on this thread and share what has worked for us and tips/advice.

    1. How can we use our Zen practice in our working lives?
    2. Which practices have worked for you?
    3. How do you engage with Samu?

    Thank you all in advance and I hope this thread helps many broaden and deepen their practice.

    Gassho,

    Ippo

    SatToday

  2. #2
    Interesting topic. Since I'm just starting my practice I'm very interested to see this discussion unfold.

    I work for a large multi-national corporation. I do not sit in an office, I'm either traveling to visit with customers or in a home office. My interactions with co-workers are mainly via email, instant message, and audio or video conferencing. A big advantage I have is the ability to take a few minutes to reflect when I start to feel anger, frustration, etc. So I try to apply Respect, Acceptance, and Compassion before I respond.

    However, the biggest difference so far is the focus. Now what I'm doing is the most important thing at that time. Instead of listening to a conference call and reading or responding to email at the same time. I now give 100% of my attention to the speaker and then later 100% to the email.

  3. #3
    Member Onka's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Location
    Rural Queensland, Australia
    I start each day with Zazen which helps set a decent platform for the rest of the day.
    I'm legally the full-time carer of my partner who has MS so my 'work' hours and duties are variable but generally I'm at 'work' 24/7 such is the unpredictable nature of MS symptoms. For the privilege of watching the woman I love deteriorate before my eyes I get to live below the poverty line on disability. "Social Security" ROFL!! Not a great career move so I wouldn't recommend it but hey, you can't help who you fall in love with haha.
    However, what I try to do to incorporate my Buddhist learnings into my 'work' day is employ a lot of internal dialogues reminding me of a particular Precept or even approaching various tasks as Samu practice with the recital of a Samu Gatha. This works a treat for me until someone or something really pisses me off then it's a case of trying a bit of Insta-Zazen to reset things and start again. Some days require no resetting but most do and that's ok because my partner deserves the best of me and my Buddhist practice is bringing that to the fore.
    Not sure if this is helpful but it's going ok for us.
    Gassho
    Onka
    stlah
    Life's too serious to be taken seriously.
    No Gods No Masters.
    Onka 穏 火 Calm Fires
    aka Anna Kissed
    Former Oppression Olympian. These days I prefer to observe rather than participate.

  4. #4
    Thank you Ippo for this thread.
    I work as a nurse practitioner on a isolated little island. There are no doctors or emergency services, just me. So my job title is a nurse, but I end up having all kinds of roles, social worker, carer, policeman, ambulance man, secular priest (that's my interpretation of just listening to folks troubles).
    Incorporating and integrating my zen practice with my work has been a major challenge for me as I can be sitting down on my zafu and 10 mins in my pager goes off. I try to just get up and go, but have times when it is really irritating and I wonder if I really have any time to call my own when I can do what I want....like just sit. In times past I used to struggle with this a lot, and thought I cant really be a buddhist, I cannot dedicate or guarantee time to sit or attend important ceremonies etc.
    Last year I withdrew from my Jukai for these very reasons. This year, to be honest, the demands of work and my family have been even greater. However in discussion with Kotei and Jundo I came to realise that this was indeed my Ango, my Jukai. Once I let go of expectations I had of myself and just sat, studied or sewed when I could it felt like everything settled into place.
    So now, I feel my zen practice underpins my work and life generally. Everything can be samu if I allow it to be. I still get frustrated, tired , scared and upset but underneath that is the safety net that zazen brings to me and hopefully I can manifest the precepts on a day to day basis.
    This year I have completed Jukai and the feelings I have had following Sunday's ceremony do feel like a new beginning.
    Now all I have to do is live the life I aspire to and meet the precepts to the very best of my ability.

    Shouldn't be a problem

    Gassho

    Tenrai

    SAT/LAH

  5. #5
    I teach Chinese students online -- so my practice is less about incorporating my practice in my work, and more about incorporating my practice in my personal life (much greater challenge for me). I have recently been approved to teach upper level students, so I've been adjusting to that change as well.

    I sit early in the morning, before dawn -- generally between 4 am and 5:30am. Then I teach. Later I tutor adults sometimes, and take care of my family, and all kinds of things. I can't explain what I do every day because it changes daily to adapt to what is going on that day. I "go where I'm needed" -- and sometimes I need to "sit more" and recharge. Also, sometimes I need to "drop everything and respond" and sitting has to wait until later.

    Also, as Tenrai noted, my "always chaotic" life has always knocked me out of Jukai- until this season. Jundo, Kokuu, Jakuden, Shinshi, and others all reinforced to me that what I thought was 'interference' was in fact ANGO -- my life is my Temple and my practice, every day. If it hadn't been for the encouragement, reinforcement, and compassion of the priests here -- well, they're amazing

    My work is the "easy" part for me because working with eastern cultures -- mostly Chinese families -- is part of my daily life. Occasionally I deal with angry parents/families (usually has nothing to do with me), but for the most part I really love my work, and really enjoy spending time with the families and the kids, and I learn a lot from them as well -- I probably learn much more from them than they do from me.

    My practice gets tested the most in the rest of my life. Thus, I need to maintain my practice every day.

    For this reason, with the occasion of Jukai, until roughly March (DST), I have made changes to my schedule, and I expect this will be an ongoing adjustment.

    gassho
    Meian (kim)
    st lh
    Last edited by allwhowander; 01-14-2020 at 01:21 PM.
    Meian Kim
    迷安 - Mei An - Wandering At Rest
    Treeleaf is always Home _/\_ `/'

  6. #6
    Member Onka's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Location
    Rural Queensland, Australia
    I forgot to say that chapter 13 of Aitken's book probably sums things up as nice as anything anyone else says.
    A really rough paraphrase as interpreted by me would be:
    We've just taken the Bodhisattva vows. We've signed up to serve others but serving others doesn't just mean serving our Priest's or our Buddhist Sangha but to serve all living things. No matter what you do for wage enslavement (oops I mean paid employment) you can reframe it in terms of being in the service of others - thus effectively Samu practice.
    There are much wiser heads than me around here so I'm happy to defer stuff to them but this is how I see things.
    Gassho
    Onka
    stlah and got fleeced $500 for a vet visit SMH!
    Life's too serious to be taken seriously.
    No Gods No Masters.
    Onka 穏 火 Calm Fires
    aka Anna Kissed
    Former Oppression Olympian. These days I prefer to observe rather than participate.

  7. #7
    Hi everyone,

    Nice responses from Drew, Onka, Tenrai, and Meian.

    It sounds like we are all on the same page! I think, for me, like many of you, engaging FULLY in ONE thing at a time is ideal. Being fully present and arriving at my fullest for a task/activity is what I am working towards. By default, the other option is a busier mind, not letting go and forgetting about ideas, time, boundaries.

    Interestingly, Jundo's suggestion about full engagement, arriving fully, etc. are also key strategies/techniques that are taught by high performance and focus experts.

    'Flow' is a great concept first conceptualized years ago:

    a flow state, also known colloquially as being in the zone, is the mental state in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by the complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting transformation in one's sense of time.

    So we sit Zazen, fully there dropping all judgments and just sitting. It sounds like, we can do the same for working!

    I have been practicing this more lately, and have noticed Zazen creeping more and more into my life. Often times I'm meditating, without meditating.

    I make a stronger commitment to practice this moving forward.

    Thank you for your thoughts and support so far. You all have very interesting things to say.

    I hope I can support and encourage you as much as you have done for me. Let's practice!

    Gassho,

    Ippo

    SatToday

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