Soul Assignment

Today’s post is by Susan Rowland. This is a transcript of her audio testimony highlighting her experience in Shalem’s Transforming Community: Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats Program. You may also listen to her tell her story by clicking on the video above. Listen to stories of other graduates here.

My experience with the Shalem program, Leading Contemplative Prayer groups and Retreats, was unique in so many ways.  At the residencies, we were among a circle of talented people, gathered with the intention of deepening their life and leadership in contemplative practice. The breadth and expression of faith was so rich.   Small groups provided a safe opportunity to try out different prayer practices in an open, experiential, supportive space. I will be forever grateful for the emphasis on simple explanations of prayer practices so that the Spirit is “free to move about the cabin” of the gathering.

What made that possible was the Shalem program leadership, modeling something so beautiful and authentic in all that they offered.  I have been to programs where they teach by telling you what to do.  At Shalem, the leaders revealed their personal passion to us through each teaching. Their words and presence were alive – resonating and bouncing off all of our hearts– together, we laughed, we walked, we played with art, we talked a lot over meals.  They truly entered into the community with us.

In the past two years since I graduated from Shalem’s program, those experiences still nourish me. My Shalem book shelf, formed by the rich reading list, is consulted weekly and continues to encourage and inspire me.  I am just finishing my third contemplative group for the year, and I lead a monthly day of silence called Soul Space, I am also on the Board of a rich ministry through The Contemplative Center of Silicon Valley. The mark of Shalem is on each of those endeavors that I am involved in.

Each year, I spend a week of solitude on the coast of Maine.  So many years have been spent there wondering about my “soul assignment.” With such joy, this year was different.  I am amazed to see a dormant dream in my heart for 20 years alive in action and expression.  The balance of clinical life and contemplative ministry is now gratefully present in my daily experience.  Having just finished my group preparation for tomorrow night, the time seemed right to say “Thank You, Shalem” for all you have shared with me that I daily delight in passing on.


susan rowlandSusan Rowland is committed to creating spaces of stillness and quiet for deep listening, and delights in encouraging those interested in developing personal contemplative practices. She has a private practice in Marriage and Family Therapy in San Jose and serves on the board of The Contemplative Center in Silicon Valley.

Is the Spirit drawing you into deeper personal prayer and meditation? Does your experience of this inward deepening enliven your desire for authentic spiritual community? If your answers are yes, then the Spirit may be calling you to create contemplative community by leading groups and retreats. To learn more about Shalem’s 18-month program: Transforming Community: Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats, click here.

Photo by Heidi Sandvik

Contemplative Leadership at Work

An excerpt on bringing contemplative leadership into the workplace, by Leah Rampy.

About 10 years ago, I was working as an executive coach in a large organization.  One of my clients was a senior executive; I’ll call him Don.  During one of our sessions, Don had just returned from a corporate training program that had had a significant impact on him and he was eager to share it with me.    He told me that during one part of the training program, participants were divided into pairs for role-plays that were to be video taped.  One of the pair was to role-play the boss, the other was to play an employee who was trying to influence the boss to buy into a new idea.

Don was given the role of the boss.  As his colleague tried to interest Don in a new idea, Don pretended to be distracted by his email.  He had to respond to “just this one message.”  A few minutes later, Don’s “phone rang” and he interrupted his colleague to “take this important call.”  As the camera rolled, Don’s colleague tried to get the attention of a very distracted, multi-tasking Don.

At the conclusion of the role-play, Don and his colleague watched the video together.  The intention of the training session was to consider how to influence those in authority, but Don told me that he saw something entirely different on the video.  He saw that his colleague – a smart, competent, normally poised individual – had come completely unraveled because of how Don had treated him.  And Don felt compassion for him.

Beyond that, Don knew that his behavior on the video, while maybe exaggerated, really wasn’t all that different from his day-to-day behavior.  And his compassion extended to those who worked with him, who he saw in that instance, must have all-too-often felt disrespected and demeaned.   As he watched the video play back, Don was seeing with the eyes of his heart.

In that moment, Don set an intention to be fully present in every conversation.  This wasn’t an easy commitment.  Especially in the beginning weeks, he felt the tug of “things to do” and the longing to try to “multitask.”  Yet as he practiced his intention, it became easier.

Don found that he genuinely cared about each individual.  And he no longer needed to assume all of the responsibility for problem solving and decision-making.  He was able to build on the knowledge and experience of the entire team as they built the trust and respect they needed to share more —–fully. Contemplative leadership is counter-cultural; it invites us to live with our hearts open.  Once he had experienced such compassionate leadership, Don could not imagine returning to the way he had led before.


This excerpt is a sneak preview from one of the presentations Leah Rampy will give during Shalem’s upcoming Contemplative Leadership Workshop: With Hearts Wide Open. The workshop takes place next weekend, October 9-11, and is flexible to be taken during those days on your schedule. Longing to learn to lead from the heart? There is still space if you would like to register.
To learn more, click here.

Leah Rampy, Shalem’s Executive Director, has a background in corporate management and leadership consulting as well as a deep passion for contemplative living and care of the Earth. She has a PhD in Curriculum from Indiana University and is a graduate of Shalem’s Living in God: Personal Spiritual Deepening; and Transforming Community: Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups & Retreats Programs.

Photo by Felicia Zwebner

Reclaiming Happiness

Today’s post is by Savannah Kate Coffey.

Happiness may be one of the most misunderstood and maligned virtues of our time.

Happiness is, on one hand, exalted as the supreme goal of existence. There is great pressure to be happy. If you are not happy, your life is not worth living and you must be doing something wrong. Shopping, traveling, and self-help are popular solutions to this problem. There are many paths to happiness and though every path is not right for every person there is certainly one for you and you should keep searching until you find it. If you find yourself still unhappy after about– oh, say, 50 years, or maybe just 50 minutes, you probably need professional help. Of course, sex, drugs, and rock and roll are always available to you. Whichever path you choose, your happiness depends on you, is fully within your control, and it is your responsibility to procure it.

On the other hand, our churches rarely have much to say about happiness because happiness completely misses the point. Life is about faithfulness, maturity, service, and perhaps “joy” (the more respectable cousin of happiness). Happiness is simply a fleeting distraction that holds no lasting value. Life is a test requiring great perseverance. God certainly isn’t interested in our happiness because God is much too serious for that. God wants us to grow up and if we aren’t happy, well, so be it. We are at least wise, mature, and orthodox. We have inherited our Puritan ancestors’ fear that if we encourage happiness we tacitly promote the licentious sex, drugs, and rock and roll mentioned earlier.

The pendulum swings back and forth causing so much confusion that even a sweet, Southern girl may resort to swearing in sheer frustration. Both perspectives are distortions of something inherently good. As distortions they are unlivable. Happiness is either pie in the sky, always just out of reach, or it is the dangerous enemy of mature faith, and as such, is illegitimate. We live either as slaves to the seduction of happiness, or as martyrs in the rejection of it.

What would a livable and faithful pursuit of happiness look like? It might begin with knowing that God is happy. Maybe God even desires our happiness. The Biblical story bears witness to this time and again. God apparently creates from sheer delight, reveling in divine artistry and calling creation good. God sees that Adam is lonely and provides a partner, presumably for their mutual help and happiness. Even the law and 10 great rules are given in an effort to preserve happiness in community. The Beatitudes in Matthew 5 claim happiness and the dignity of human life without denying the pain and suffering we experience. What if we deeply trusted the goodness and extravagance of a God “who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment?” (I Timothy 6:17)

If true happiness is rooted in the very nature of God, and God is Love, then we also know happiness involves the giving and receiving of love. Have you noticed, when your heart is filled with love, the craving for “too much” of everything else relents? Or, when you share true presence with your children, their behavior improves? How different would our experience of sex be if the focus was less on seduction and need-gratification, and more about mutual, loving self-offering? Overeating might lose it’s appeal if we were satisfied with enough love every day. Can human love satisfy our every need? No. To seek sufficient love solely from human relationships only changes the focus of the addiction. God is the bottomless source of love. But we grossly underestimate our power to love and sow happiness.

My mom has cooked dinner for my dad repeatedly in their 40-year marriage. I have never once heard my dad complain that the corn is tough or the chicken bland. He simply sits down and relishes whatever she makes. My mother offers him happiness in the meal and he offers her happiness in his response. What if we each decide to cook-up love in the best way we can and then pull up a chair and relish the love-offering of others? I think we might find ourselves transformed into people of deep and abiding happiness.

An ancient hymn, thought to be one of the earliest songs of the Christian church, imagines Jesus as the Phos Hilaron—the “Happy Light.” Legend says it was composed by an old man on his way to being martyred. The executioner’s arm was paralyzed until the elderly bishop had finished his song. May this be true for all of us—may we be given as many days as we need to fully sing our song of love and may true happiness be the result.


Kate Coffey is a graduate of Columbia Theological Seminary and Shalem’s Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats Program for which she now serves as adjunct staff. She lives and writes in South Carolina.

Six Ways to Experience Contemplation Online

Today’s post is by Bryan Berghoef

We live an increasingly virtual existence. We have ongoing conversations with our friends—sitting in our home, or from our office, or while standing on the street waiting for the bus—while they are in a different home, in a different office, or on a different street.

Person-Using-iPhone-4SNews and weather alerts pop up automatically on our phones, keeping us forever in the loop. We update our status so the world can know what we had for dinner, or so that not just family, but every person we’ve ever known can see a picture of our kids on their first day of school. We plug in to our devices to keep up-to-date on the news, choosing a website or newscast of choice. Sometimes, rather than looking out the window or stepping outside, we pull up our favorite weather app to decide if it’s going to be a short-sleeve or long-sleeve day. A number of us even work remotely—something increasingly normal in our ever-connected world.

So how does one maintain and deepen a contemplative stance in such a frenzied, virtual world? One obvious solution is to unplug. Put the phone away. Turn the computer off. Go for a walk. Keep the radio off on the commute to work. Don’t leave a window open with Facebook always tempting you to glance at the latest cat video or Star Trek meme. Even now you’re tempted (don’t do it!).

We all need to unplug from time to time. But I’ve also found that the Internet can be a place to deepen my prayer life and connection to God.

Here are six suggestions:

1) QUIET MUSIC — Find a station on Pandora, iTunes, or your favorite streaming music site, and listen to something that brings you into a contemplative space. I often find myself listening to the yoga, relaxation, or ambient radio channels on Pandora. If you have a favorite channel or artist—feel free to share it in the comments below.

2) PRAYER WEBSITE — For years, I have enjoyed going to Sacred Space, a website run by Irish Jesuits out of Dublin since 1999. It invites one into a quiet, prayerful space online, and leads one through meditative prayer culminating in a Scripture to sit with for as long as one feels led. There are other spaces to explore as well. I’ve even adapted a daily prayer session on Sacred Space for large group use – leading a congregation in a contemplative worship service, and reading the Scripture using lectio divina and silence.

3) MEDITATION TIMER—You might take some more time for silence and meditation if you had some help, right? That’s one of the reason we enjoy silent retreats or yoga sessions – because they provide us structure and give us permission be still. Turns out technology also provides some aids for meditation. The Insight Timer is probably the most famous. A simple app for your phone or iPad, the insight timer creates the sound of beautiful Tibetan singing bowls, gently and peacefully guiding you through your meditation session. With this, your attention can focus inward and with a timer that you set – you don’t need to worry about the clock. There is even an online community around the insight timer – you can check in online or tweet about your meditation session. For those wanting to go deeper – Insight provides guided meditations by teachers such as Thich Nhat Hanh, Tara Brach, Jack Kornfield, and Eckhart Tolle. Shalem’s meditation timer is available here: Shalem Timer.

4) AN ONLINE COURSE—There are an increasing number of us who take classes online. Some for college credit. Some for continuing education. Some for personal enjoyment or growth. There are a number of people who offer rich contemplative eCourses. Abbey of the Arts offers an 8-day Monk in the World eCourse, which explores some of the elements essential to a contemplative practice in everyday life. In October, Contemplative Journal is offering an eCourse on Aging as a Spiritual Practice. And Spirituality and Practice is always offering something new. An online course connects you with experienced spiritual teachers while giving you space to practice and experience at your own pace. If you search online, you can find extended, year-long courses, some for a few weeks, and even some one-day retreats. Shalem has several online courses enrolling now: Shalem eCourses.

5) ARTICLES AND BLOG POSTS—There are countless books available that offer rich spiritual wisdom. But sometimes you want just a nugget, an excerpt, maybe a few paragraphs of spiritual insight to feed your soul before you continue on with your day. Well there are a lot of good blogs out there. Where to start? I’ll suggest a few that I enjoy: Richard Rohr provides daily meditations that you can receive via email. Here’s a nugget from today’s meditation:

Contemplation is no fantasy, make-believe, or daydream, but the flowering of patience and steady perseverance. There is a deep relationship between the inner revolution of true prayer and the transformation of social structures and social consciousness. Our hope lies in the fact that meditation is going to change the society that we live in, just as it has changed us. It is that kind of long-term thinking that God seems to be involved in and kindly invites us into the same patient process.

Contemplative Journal also provides a rich source of articles and columns—in fact, recently Shalem contributed a series of articles for Contemplative Leadership Week.

The Contemplative Society provides regular posts from Cynthia Bourgeault, who will be recognized with Shalem’s Contemplative Voices Award for 2014 this November. Cynthia is a modern day mystic, Episcopal priest, writer, and internationally known retreat leader, committed to teaching and spreading the recovery of the Christian contemplative and Wisdom path.

There are many other blogs worth following but these are a few to get you started. Want to share some you enjoy? Please share with us below.

6) SOCIAL MEDIA —A final suggestion would be to find contemplative organizations and individuals you enjoy, and follow them on social media. Social media is a great way to connect with contemplative photography, audio teachings and meditations, blog posts, as well as connect to the ongoing contemplative conversation online. Any of the groups I mentioned above would be great to connect with via Facebook. There are also some regular contemplatives on Twitter such as our friend Carl McColman – follow him on Twitter to catch his latest thoughts, quotes, blogs and teachings. Do you have a favorite contemplative that you follow on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn? Is there a conversation group that you enjoy? Share with us below!

If you’re reading this post, you’re probably somewhat familiar with what Shalem offers for online contemplative connection. Seeking an online course? Check out our latest here. Shalem is quickly becoming a leader in providing quality online courses led by Shalem’s respected staff and faculty, and we have a 6-week course beginning this fall, as well as two online retreat days.

Looking for some social media connections? Shalem’s daily Facebook posts, comprised of contemplative photography and quotes, are enjoyed by nearly 6,000 people. Why not join them? Did you know that Shalem is also on Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and LinkedIn? In each space, Shalem aspires to create offerings and moments of contemplative connection that expand awareness of the Spirit’s presence to all who cross our paths.

These are simply six suggestions that have nurtured and assisted my own spiritual practice. Whether you need a quick spiritual lift from a simple photo or quote, or you’re ready to explore contemplative life and practice in-depth, it may be only a click away. If you have something to share that has been particularly meaningful to you, please share below—we’d love to hear about it!


bryan1Bryan Berghoef is a pastor and writer who helps curate Shalem’s social media content and provides technical support for Shalem’s online courses. Bryan lives with his wife, Christy, and four children in Holland, MI. You can see more of his writing at pubtheologian.com.

Interested in taking an online course with Shalem? We have several enrolling now!

Practicing Contemplation on the Road

Today’s post is by Leah Rampy

Changing LanesMy hands are locked on the steering wheel as I sit in the mass of vehicles inching down I-395 during morning rush hour.  I look straight ahead, my eyes locked on the truck just ahead of me.  I carefully avoid eye contact with the driver of the car to my right.  I pretend not to see her blinker, not even to be aware that she’s there trying to move her car in front of mine.  Drat!  My peripheral vision is too good; I can see her now beside me, just as I saw her pull out a dozen cars back into the diminishing right hand lane, moving up to the front of the line, trying to bypass all the rest of us who are waiting “patiently” to make our way to work.  I am indignant that she does not follow the rules.

There’s something about righteous indignation that feels so good, so superior— at least for a minute.  And then it all comes crashing down.  What am I doing?!? I started with a spacious morning, I set my intention to bless those along the way, I really want to be gracious to others I meet, and I’m on my way to Shalem for heaven’s sake!  Yet here I am again, hijacked by my amygdala, under the control of my ego, or maybe just caught up in an old habit.  How distressing!

I suppose in some ways it’s a blip on the radar.  And yet I feel sad.  Why is it so difficult for me to live consistently from the spiritual heart?  In this moment, I feel that others have figured out the key.  They pray enough; they hold silence longer, they don’t fail so often in their intent.

And then I smile.  In the course of two minutes, I’ve fallen fully into dualistic thinking.  The other driver is wrong; I’m right.  No, she’s fine; I’m the one who’s not good enough.  My thinking mind is a judgment machine!  It leaves no situation unlabeled!  I open to the possibility of simply being with what is, as it is, in this moment.  I breathe.

Such a small and yet such a frequent occurrence in my life.  I think it’s time for the words of Richard Rohr to be taped to my visor: “Perfection is not the elimination of imperfection, as we think. Divine perfection is, in fact, the ability to recognize, forgive, and include imperfection! —just as God does with all of us. Only in this way can we find the beautiful and hidden wholeness of God underneath the passing human show.  It is the gift of non-dual thinking and seeing, which itself is a gift of love, suffering, and grace. In fact, this is the radical grace that grounds all holy seeing and doing.”

What shows up for you as you as you open to living contemplatively?

Leah Rampy, Shalem’s Executive Director, has a background in corporate management and leadership consulting as well as a deep passion for contemplative living and care of the Earth. She has a PhD in Curriculum from Indiana University and has participated in Shalem’s Living in God: Personal Spiritual Deepening as well as Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats: Transforming Community.

Shalem’s intention is to open space for you to deepen your own contemplative practice and awareness. We offer online courses, one-day retreats, and extended in-person programs. This fall, Leah Rampy will be leading an online Contemplative Leadership workshop. Read more here.

Finding Sabbath

DSCN1004By Gerald May*

*Excerpted from his article, “Prayerfulness at Work” from Shalem’s News, Volume 29, No. 1-Winter, 2005. The full issue may be viewed here.

There is a rhythm to every workweek, regardless of what the jobs may be and where the workplace is: home, office, farm, construction site, on the road. In all places there are times of activity and times of repose, pressured moments and spacious moments. One of the major risks we human beings encounter is to miss the times of spaciousness and rest. We are likely to see them as useless, and to fill them up with other activities. Here the ancient rhythm of Sabbath can help release us from such compulsions. Find your Sabbaths and claim them. Sabbath is normally seen as a day of rest, recapitulating the creation story in which God rested on the seventh day. Practice that Sabbath day as much as you can. Sabbath, however, can be found not only in days, but also in certain hours of a day, and in certain precious minutes within the hours. Pray to be aware of such moments and times when they are given, and savor them.

 

Where do you find your Sabbath? I tend to be really good about it for a while and then the busyness of life creeps up on me and I start to lose one and then another Sabbath moment/day. Then suddenly I wonder why life seems overwhelming and I creep back to these precious times. Perhaps just being aware is what would save them. Taking that moment instead of trying to squeeze one more thing into those two minutes. Remembering to be gentle with myself and savoring them.

 

 

The Simplicity of a Peaceful Holiday

2013-12-20 09.16.43By Stephanie Gretchen Burgevin. Stephanie is a writer and retreat leader. She is an associate faculty member of Shalem and a graduate of their Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats Program and leads spiritual and secular programs. Stephanie manages Shalem’s blog and is one of the social media coordinators for the Shalem Institute Facebook page.

I can get myself stressed out from over doing as well as anyone, but somehow I manage to keep the peace for Christmas.

I wasn’t always this way. I could get myself so wrapped around the axel that I’d be cleaning baseboards before I hosted Christmas Eve dinner! Luckily, for me and my family, I gave that up! (Shudder!)

My son and fiancé were talking the other day about how they feel the pressure of the season, getting the “right” gift for someone, getting all regular and then seasonal tasks done. It sounded like a long list of strict to-dos.

They asked me how I wasn’t getting uptight. It’s just Grace (and some work on letting go!).

When I think of why Advent is special to me, it is because of the magic of the season. The place I go to in order to keep it this way is midnight service in the church where I grew up. All the lights would be out except a few candles. It would all be quiet. The church was packed. The anticipation grew as you sat in the dark. You could hear the choir gathering outside the sanctuary. You knew something special was coming. Then, they would start to sing Silent Night a cappella as they passed the candle flame to each worshipper there until the whole church was filled with light and beauty and music. This scene still brings tears to my eyes. I think it’s the blessings of sheer delight of sight and sound, of unity and togetherness, of love for one another, of the hope and joy that that night signifies, and most of all, the palpable sense of the Holy being so strongly among us.

Somehow that is the moment I carry with me during this season of waiting and it keeps me grounded and connected.

It’s a simple story of anticipation and enough preparation to have an open heart and to just show up, of the light emerging from the dark, and then beauty and joy, (and in this case heavenly singing).

Blessings and peace to you and your loved ones this holy-day season.

Contemplative Eyes

2013-05-24 08.35.13By Gerald May*

*Excerpted from his article, “Prayerfulness at Work” from Shalem’s News, Volume 29, No. 1-Winter, 2005. The full issue may be viewed here.

http://www.shalem.org/index.php/resources/newsletter/newsletter-archive/winter05

During your personal prayer/meditation times at home, or at other prayer times during the day, try experimenting with letting your eyes be open. If you’re used to closing your eyes for prayer and meditation, go gently. At first, just let your eyes be partially open, not focused on anything. See if this seems to interfere with your inner sense of presence and openness. If it does, keep gently experimenting with eyes closed, eyes open. See if you can recover your prayerfulness with your eyes open. Remember times in the past when you’ve felt very prayerful with eyes open: in nature perhaps, or in worship, looking at a loved one, gazing at the sky, etc.

Keep experimenting with this until it becomes more comfortable. Then let your eyes come naturally open, looking around and at different things in your environment. If you lose your sense of presence, close your eyes again and keep experimenting with the transition until it feels more natural to have your eyes open. The idea is to let yourself be free to be prayerful regardless of whether your eyes are closed or open. Prayerfulness with eyes open becomes important, of course, if you want to be prayerful as you’re working on different tasks. And if this is indeed what you want, don’t forget to pray for it!

In what ways have you tried to be continuously prayerful, regardless of what else is going on?

I am still working on this one, but love the idea. I respond in a very Pavlovian way when someone says, “May we have a moment of silence” or “Let us pray.” I shut my eyes, bow my head, breath deeply….shut out the world. I love this idea of letting the prayer resonate throughout the day, regardless of whether my eyes are open or shut.

What is your experience?

Prayerfulness at Work

by Gerald May*

*Excerpted from his article, “Prayerfulness at Work” from Shalem’s News, Volume 29, No. 1-Winter, 2005. The full issue may be viewed here.

http://www.shalem.org/index.php/resources/newsletter/newsletter-archive/winter05

Rublev Trinity Icon

Rublev Trinity Icon

Recently several people have asked me for suggestions about cultivating prayerfulness in the workplace. Here is a collection of suggestions from my previous writings and current inspirations:

I think people have two main reasons for wanting to enhance their prayer in the workplace. First, they desire their work, and everything else in life, to be inspired and guided by God. They do not want to take things into their own hands and forget the Living Presence of the Holy. Trusting that there is no place from which God is absent, they long to join God’s dance in the workplace as well as in all the other places of their lives.

Second, sooner or later, people often become aware of a desire to nurture a contemplative attitude in work and in life. True contemplative presence always comes as a gift; there are no techniques or methods we can use to make it happen. But cultivating a contemplative attitude can enhance our appreciation of the gift-and perhaps even our receptivity for it. A contemplative attitude is an open, receptive kind of prayerfulness that is willing to be present and responsive to things just as they are in the immediate moment-seeing and accepting the situation fully without blinders or prejudice. It includes a willingness-even a longing-to be in mystery, trusting and praying for God to guide one’s action even if there is no understanding or sense of direction. And it involves a deep radical trust that allows people to refrain from acting on their own initiative. It is like joining God’s dance without having to know what the next step is.

Your desire may be something like what I have described, or you may experience it quite differently. Regardless, I think the most important thing you can do is to identify your desire, claim it, and make it your prayer. In other words, if you want to be more prayerful in your work, pray for it.

Do you desire to be more spiritual at work? How do you bring your spirituality to your job? Is it a challenge or comfortable? 

Spirituality at Work

2013-04-06 11.25.39By Stephanie Gretchen Burgevin. Stephanie is a writer and retreat leader. She is an associate faculty member of Shalem and a graduate of theirLeading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats Program and leads spiritual and secular programs. Stephanie manages Shalem’s blog and is one of the social media coordinators for the Shalem Institute Facebook page.

Being contemplative, bringing your spiritual self fully into the workplace can be a challenge. I’ve never been very boisterous about my religion so trying to find the balance between being true to myself spiritually while not making anyone else uncomfortable has been a little tricky at times when I’ve worked in an office. I worried about making someone feel uncomfortable or excluded.

However, I had a refreshing, inspiring experience this week at a marketing conference I just attended.

I was happily surprised that many of the speakers, both keynote and regular, talked at length about being true to oneself, finding balance in life, and being vulnerable with coworkers and one’s clients. One speaker even quoted Buddha! Yes, you read correctly, I was at a marketing conference, not a meditation conference.

This is a sign of great hope for me. These were top-notch experts in the field, all were highly successful business people, and attendees came from Tanzania, Germany, India, Canada, the U.S. to name a few!

I work from home, so the idea of being contemplative during business hours is no longer a stretch for me. When I am having trouble creating something, I meditate on it, take the project into prayer. I have an icon on my desk and a spiritual photo on my wall.  I can be as steeped in Spirit as I want and remember to be.

But this theme of personal truth, balance, generosity, and love was a new high in the business world for me. Could this signal a shift in the business world away from dog-eat-dog greed? How can we support being contemplative at work?

Have any of you experienced this in your work life? Are you seeing a shift in the business mindset?