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Doing Work With Meditation

Meditation during work refers to a mindset that helps us detach ourselves from the body and mind and remember our real nature (Atman) or, what amounts to the same, God, who dwells in the heart of all beings. For a beginner this amounts to refusing to identify with the body and the untrained mind, and trying to be a witness to his mental gyrations without getting affected by them. Practice enables one to become more alert and identify oneself with buddhi, the discriminative faculty. Incidentally, selfless work as a spiritual discipline is expected to result in this identification with buddhi, a step fundamental to any fruitful spiritual endeavour. We don’t work mechanically anymore, but with an awakened buddhi watching the movements of the mind and bringing it back to the task in hand every time it strays, following the Bhagavad Gita dictum: ‘Whenever the unsteady and restless mind strays, rein it in and bring it back to dwell on the Atman.’

Doing work with an alert mind is what Swami Vivekananda advocates in his prescription for inner transformation through work: ‘When you are doing any work, do not think of anything beyond. Do it as worship, as the highest worship, and devote your whole life to it for the time being.’

Such a meditative awareness during work needs preparation and practice. When Arjuna asked Sri Krishna how to control the wayward mind, Bhagavan replied that it was possible through practice and detachment – detachment from anything that is inimical to the attainment of one’s goal.

Regularity in spiritual practices amid work is a great help in cultivating meditative awareness.

Swami Vivekananda has a name for work done with an alert mind: ‘self-conscious activity’. What are the benefits of such an activity?

Swami Vivekananda says: ‘Call upon the sleeping soul and see how it awakes. Power will come, glory will come, goodness will come, purity will come, and everything that is excellent will come when this sleeping soul is roused to self-conscious activity.’

Source – excerpts from editorial of Prabuddha Bharata September 2004 issue.