Political commentator and social activist Van Jones has said, “It’s in the convergence of spiritual people becoming active and active people becoming spiritual that the hope of humanity now rests.”
I don’t believe these big words are over stated – even if they were initially articulated before the current times they describe.
There has never been, nor do I suspect will there ever be, a moment in our lifetimes where it is more important for us to speak up about what is happening in the United States and around the world.
For irrespective of how you feel about these changes, change is a happening – in healthcare, immigration, reproductive rights, trade, environmental policy, the justice system … and these changes have big, deep ramifications for those of us seeking to use our power and privilege to create a more equitable society for people around the world.
These times demand that we speak up. That we keep speaking up.
That we show up to demonstrations to make our voices collectively heard.
That we share our stories, our hopes and our fears on phone lines and in emails to our Congress people (for those of us who are American).
That we work on behalf of electing people who reflect our collective values. For those of us in the U.S., 2018 can play a vital role in restoring checks and balances both at the state level, as more issues get referred back to states, and of course in Congress.
(And for those of you who like the change that is transpiring, I respect your right to use your speech to articulate your views as well. Of course. By no means am I suggesting that all change makers see everything through my Lex-lens.)
Just as I respect each person’s right to speak up and out his/her own way, I will continue to do the same in the communities I have cultivated – online and locally in Las Vegas, where I proudly call home.
How I see the world, the many fears I have about the course we have gone down, is inextricably linked to the work that I do through my speaking and leadership business.
Most of my life has been an on-again, off-again (for too many years consistently off-again) relationship to my own voice.
Speaking up in certain areas of my life (and not in others) became my default mode for too much of my life – and therefore I’m asking for your forgiveness rather than your permission if as I speak up in my business about my ideologies there are times when we disagree.
Nonetheless, I will…Not. Stop. Speaking. Up.
Everything is political. Just as everything is spiritual.
I believe the more we can be unapologetic about this and prioritize boosting these two very vital skills:
- Listening (to what is being said, as well as what is not being said) AND
- Improve our ability to make our oral and written persuasive cases more mindful, more focused on connection than polarization
The more likely it is we all can truly build a world we are proud to be citizens of.
This is where I stand.
In my desire to be more engaged, mindful and loving, through my business and in the world, I want to introduce (and if you have been with me for a while it’s more like re-introduce) one of my pals, Emily Bennington.
Emily is the author of the new Sounds True book, Miracles at Work, and she recently shared with me her thoughts on how to acknowledge the spirituality that is inherent in all of our work and how to be mindful even in the most challenging of times.
My Interview with Emily Bennington
Q. Let’s start with the basic premise of your book. Do you feel business is always spiritual?
Yes. Business is spiritual because everything is. The spiritual journey is the path of the heart and so there’s no area of our lives where this doesn’t apply. The problem, however, is that we’re comfortable calling this path “love” when we’re sharing positive mantras online – but then we get to work and have no idea how it fits in with what we do all day.
Q. Agreed. So how does spiritual love apply to work?
This is a question that could fill a book – lol – but I’ll give you one insight that has helped me tremendously. I’m a student of A Course in Miracles and the Course makes a clear distinction between physical sight and what it calls spiritual vision. So, as an example, if I look at you and only believe what my eyes tell me is true, then it’s easy for me to get caught up in any personality differences we have. Spiritual vision, however, gives me the ability to look through those differences to the Truth of who you are – and as I see this Truth in you, I strengthen the ability to see it in me.
Q.I didn’t think we had personality differences. Really Em?
There are always differences, even with those we love.
Q. Touché. So… what is “the Truth” of who we are and how does understanding it benefit my career/business?
From a Course perspective, the Truth is that we all share the same Source – by whatever name you call it – and that’s what makes us one. We have different bodies, yes, but if we get underneath the identities we cling to – our name, nationality, gender, religion, race, etc. – eventually we realize they are all constructed. That’s not to say we don’t honor who we are, we just hold it lightly. The benefit of understanding this at work is that, when we know our ultimate Source isn’t our career or business, we stop looking to job titles or clients or income for our sense of self-worth.
Q. Got it. The whole conversation around self-worth and confidence is huge, particularly for women. I can imagine this perspective is very grounding in that regard.
Completely. Take your recent Inbound speech for example. You thoroughly prepared for one presentation but then wound up delivering something else given what happened on election night. How can you have the presence to do that without calming the “snow globe mind” – and how can you calm the mind without a grounding practice? That’s what spirituality is…it’s a practice of coming back in each moment to our opportunity to choose love and grace.
Q. That sounds very mindful and, in fact, most of your career work thus far has been in the space of mindfulness. How would you explain the difference between a “spiritual” and a “mindfulness” practice?
Mindfulness has evolved into a secular practice that is centered around emotional intelligence and the mechanics of the brain in particular. I actually love that because when we know, for instance, that our prefrontal cortex under stress gets less oxygen, we become less likely to pop off in meetings than we may have been otherwise. That said, in mindfulness the answer is always coming from “you” whereas a spiritual practice is about connecting to a higher Source of wisdom.
Q. We can certainly use all the wisdom we can get these days during these turbulent times. Speaking of, I know this isn’t exactly career-related, but how would someone use Miracles at Work to stay centered through the turmoil of the world right now?
It’s all related because it goes back to what I was saying before: There isn’t an area where you apply spiritual principles and another area where you don’t. What works in the office also works with our spouse, our kids, our friends, and within our politics. In short, the more we know how to dissolve the ego debris from our own mind, the more we become a clear channel for the expression of love, and this is the only thing that will save our world. It really is that simple – and that hard.
More about my sister from another mister, Emily Bennington
Emily Bennington is a bestselling author and a student / teacher of contemplative practices for both secular and spiritual audiences. She has led training programs on composure and values-driven leadership for numerous Fortune 500 companies and has been featured in press ranging from CNN, ABC, and Fox, to the Wall Street Journal, Glamour, Marie Claire, and Cosmopolitan.
Emily is the author of three books including Miracles at Work: Turning Inner Guidance into Outer Influence and Who Says It’s a Man’s World: The Girls’ Guide to Corporate Domination, which was featured as a “Book of the Month” by the Washington Post. As a result of her business background, Emily is skilled at presenting complex mindfulness and spiritual topics with logical reasoning, professionalism, and inclusiveness.
Emily’s website was recently honored by Forbes on a list of “100 Best”, and her blog, Grace, touches thousands of readers around the world who are seeking to live and lead with more holistic presence and joy.