Aging and Work

I came upon Work as a Spiritual Practice: A Practical Buddhist Approach to Inner Growth and Satisfaction on the Job in a bookstore.  I am at a point in my life where I need to decide on either taking a new job, or not working any more.

Of course, not working sounds great. But working at something that you enjoy also is appealing.

So a book that is a guide to developing a spiritual life on the job sounds like a natural for me now.

The book draws on Buddhism which I seem to be writing about more lately, though I certainly have not suddenly developed a daily practice.

If you associate Buddhism with calmness and compassion through meditation, then the book might show you another side because the author is interested in the active, engaged side of Buddhism.

Richmond feels that aspect of the practice is the way to find creativity, inspiration, and accomplishment in our work lives. His own experiences as a Buddhist meditation teacher, business executive, musician, and high-tech entrepreneur convinces him that you can be the “chief executive of your inner life.”

I’m not sure that all of us could perform spiritual practices while commuting to and from work. (I’m not sure if I’d want to be on the road with you if you were anyway.)  I have actually tried in my office to “meditate” while sitting, walking, or standing and it’s tough.

But then while I was in the bookstore I also saw another book by the same author that fits right into my life moment. So,  I took Aging as a Spiritual Practice: A Contemplative Guide to Growing Older and Wiser off the shelf and bought a cup of coffee.

In this volume, it is the aging process that awakens your spirit of fulfillment and transformation.

There is still a Buddhist basis for his approach. Everything changes. Aging – and not having to work full time – offers new possibilities, fresh beginnings, and certainly an appreciation and gratitude for the journey.

Not that aging is all goodness and light. The book addresses the fear, the anger, and the sorrow that many people experience when they stop working. There is also the coming to terms with what happens as your body can no longer do what it had done. You might even wrongly begin to associate those physical changes with no longer working.

Richmond divides aging into four stages. Right now I am in the “Lightning Strikes” stage which is when we “wake up” to our aging.

Am I ready for this? The book is not explicitly about retiring. You are still aging even if you continue working – and even if you are finding work to be a spiritual practice.

Therefore, the aging and the processes of adapting to that change are critical.

The book is not all Buddhism, if that scares you. There is plenty from scientific research, doctors, and psychologists mixed in with the contemplative practices. Healthy bodies and healthy relationships are pretty important to working and aging too.

So, have I decided about to work or not to work? Not yet. This is a tough one.


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A lifelong educator on and off the Internet. Random by design and predictably irrational. It's turtles all the way down. Dolce far niente.

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