When I was a senior in college, my world came crashing down. Over the course of one panic-attack filled weekend, I had what those in the Christian community call "a crisis of faith." For seven years after that weekend, I rejected anything that felt remotely spiritual. I couldn't walk into a church without feeling a knot in my stomach, I felt angry anytime someone used the word "God," and I thought Richard Dawkins was the shit.
I also had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, I drank too much, I let people into my life who were unkind and manipulative, and I was miserable. I believed, and told others, that none of us have a purpose, we're just on this earth to live, take whatever sad pleasures we can, and die.
After seven years of this, I ended up on a therapist's couch asking for help "finding my identity."
Over the past year, I've been reimagining and re-engaging with my spiritual life. I've reconnected with my Soul, the part of me that has a purpose for being on this earth. Every morning I go through a piecemeal spiritual ritual that probably doesn't make sense to any "proper" religious person, but it works for me. I can go to mass with my family and appreciate its depth and richness without feeling like I have to make sure everyone there knows that I'm not Catholic.
It wasn't until I started getting on the meditation mat every morning, usually feeling stupid and awkward, that my life began to make sense again.
It wasn't until I started pretending - and then believing - that I had a purpose on this earth that my work began to feel sacred.
Many of us are religious or spiritual people outside of work, but years of "diversity training," anti-discrimination lawsuits, and political correctness has taught most of us to leave.that.shit.at.home.
"You're observing Ramadan? Ok, well, I hope you know that doesn't mean your performance will be measured differently this month."
"You need a day off for Yom...Yom what? Alright, but we need that report done on time, so I hope you're willing to put in some extra hours this weekend."
Many of us, individually and collectively, live as if our spirituality has no bearing whatsoever on our work.
Collectively, we act as if observing holy or sacred rituals can't make us bigger, deeper, more intuitive thinkers in the office...as if coming in thirty minutes later so we have time to get still and line up with what is true for us in the mornings won't make us more effective and compassionate co-workers.
Many of us are so scared of offending one another or getting sued that we stuff down the way we make sense of the world. We quit jobs and use excuses like "I need to be paid more" instead of saying "The Universe (or God, or Allah) is just telling me it's time to move on."
Many of our workplaces are stale, miserable environments because we've killed off any spiritual wisdom that used to be there through silly policies and corporate sterilization.
Now, I know that there are some people who aren't mature enough to co-exist with people who believe differently than they do, so boundaries and "operating agreements" are still necessary. But do we all have to be so silent and closed off about the wisdom that's within us and where we believe it comes from?
What would our workplaces be like if our leaders were spiritually attuned, aware of what their Souls needed, and integrated enough to see how their actions impacted all of us on this planet?
What would our workplaces be like if we valued the wisdom that comes from our spiritually involved co-workers? What if you could bring your entire self - Soul included - to work every day?
Based on my personal experience, I think some amazing things would happen. I continue to hear from people who know that our workplaces lack depth and humanity and are seeking a way forward that feels more human and soulful.
People are looking for ways to infuse their worklives and organizations with more richness, and the only way I see to do that is by showing up whole and authentic ourselves.
If this concept resonates with you, I'd encourage you to think of some ways you can bring more of your intuition, or Soul, or spirit into your worklife. Maybe it's telling your co-workers about a recurring dream you have, or something you learned at a Bible study, or being open about the fact that you're moving forward on a project because you just feel that it's the right way to go.
If you're in management or Human Resources, I hope you'll consider finding diversity trainings and policies that do less sterilizing and more bridge-building. I hope you'll appreciate that you and your employees are whole beings who will be healthier, more innovative team members when they're able to tap into the practices and beliefs that feel nourishing to them.
If all of your alarm bells are going off, you're not alone - this topic feels scary to me, too. But I believe it's more important than my fear, so I'm doing my best to find ways to help people bridge work and life in a way that is spiritually enriching.