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Excerpt from "A Guru in the Office: 50 Ways to Remember your Spirit in a Corporate World"

by Dawn M. Staszak

We attend life-enhancing seminars, listen to inspirational audio programs, and read dozens of “self-help” books by amazing people. No doubt when you leave these seminars or finish that latest book or audio program, you have a spring in your step, a smile on your face, and a brand new zest for life. Yet, unfortunately for many, the feeling doesn’t last. The next morning, the alarm wrenches you out of your dream state, summoning you to return to your daily grind. On making your way to work, the drivers are rude, the pace is fast, and the threat of tardiness looms. To make matters worse, as you approach your cubicle, you catch that annoying co-worker glance at his or her watch out of the corner of your eye. Finally, as your reward for making it safely to work, you are greeted with eighty new e-mail messages and five new voice mails. This is the point where you ask yourself, “How can I apply all I learned from that seminar/audio program/book to my world?”

Indeed, I’ve asked myself that same question in my office experience over several years and several different work environments. In large companies and small companies, non-profits and commercial, whether permanent work or temporary work, this approach works for me. Through it all, I’ve compiled my own tips and tricks on how I get through the fluorescent-lighted, 4 x 6-foot, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (one hour break for lunch!), Monday through Friday existence. This book is not about acting like a saint or trying to change your co-workers, but only to show that you can maintain your balance and be an authentic person while at the same time making a positive difference in the workplace. It is about maintaining your center in the middle of chaos and also, perhaps, having to deal with negative co-workers. It is about what to do when you are forced to deal with those people in the working world who are unlike us. It is about bridging the gap between business and spirituality.

I’m just an ordinary woman, in an ordinary job, living in ordinary suburbia, so if I can do this, you can, too! It is possible to bring your spirituality to the office, so that you don’t have to be a Buddhist monk, a Yoga instructor, or a New Age storeowner to live within your center every day.

All of this is meant to help you, and remind you that, in fact, you are your own “guru.”

Here are some easy ways to incorporate your spirituality into your workday without having to take up any extra time. These are presented chronologically throughout your day to show you how to do this from the time your feet touch the floor until your head rests on the pillow again.

An Attitude of Gratitude

It is a good practice to start and end your workday with giving thanks for having a job in the first place. Even if you are not happy with it at the moment, there are so many things about your job to be grateful for if you think about it. Whether you are an Administrative Assistant, President, or mid-level manager, your job provides a channel of income for you (and your spouse and children, if you have them), it provides an opportunity to use your talents, education, and creativity, and it is a social arena for you to interact with people for a common cause. At the very least, it gives you something to be proud of, and you should be.

On top of all that, always appreciate, bless, and take advantage of any benefits your company offers that are above and beyond insurance. Examples are such things as tuition reimbursement, health club subsidies, company sports leagues or hobby groups, in-house seminars, guest speakers, or off-site conferences. These are all things given to you as a gift, on top of your paid work, and are to be cherished. Enjoy them!


Start your workday with at least twenty minutes of aerobic exercise. In fact, try to couple this with reading your favorite spiritual magazine or book. I enjoy doing my elliptical machine while reading my Monthly Aspectarian or Science of Mind magazines. Sometimes when I start reading while exercising, my mind drifts to other things and I get some of my best ideas this way. By the time I get to work, I’ve already exercised my body and mind and I bring so much more to the office right from the start of the day than on the days I don’t.

At lunch, when the weather allows, I enjoy walking outside. On cold or rainy days, I am fortunate enough to have access to a treadmill at the Fitness Center at my place of business. If your workplace doesn’t have a workout room, perhaps you can work with your corporate facilities department to create one.

Other ways to sneak some exercise into your day are to take the stairs versus the elevator (if you work in a multi-level building) and park your car in the farthest spot from your building.

After I get home from work, I may do ten to twenty minutes on the treadmill if I didn’t get to it in the morning, or if I just want to blow off steam. When the weather is nice, I’ll take a walk with my husband and baby boy around our neighborhood while we discuss the day, enjoying the warm sunlight and fresh air. If we’re lucky, we get a chance to chat with our neighbors as well—all of which nicely places the office aside for the day to transition to time at home.

Inspiration for the Road

Just before I walk out of my bedroom to leave for work in the morning, I read one inspirational quote or small paragraph to ponder.

One way is through card decks. I currently have two: one from the Dalai Lama and one from Wayne Dyer. This is a quick and easy way to keep a good thought in mind between leaving your bedroom, going downstairs to get your bag/purse/lunch, and entering your car. I keep mine next to my bed. After I brush my teeth and am headed downstairs, I go to my card deck, open it up, read the card right on top, take just a moment to think about it, put it to the bottom of the deck, and put it away.

Another way is through a small book of quotes. I also keep one of these next to my bed, so I alternate between this and the card decks, for variety. I keep a bookmarker in it, so that all I have to do is just go to the book, read what it says, and put it down for next time.

Funny how no matter which one I use, it is just the perfect message I needed to help me in my particular situation. This is a way of allowing God to give you some encouragement as you make your way to work. This is your special connection time with God so that you feel loved and protected as you begin the day.

The Commute

Whether you drive yourself or with someone, whether it is fifteen minutes or fifty, use this time as an opportunity to listen to inspirational audio programs or your favorite radio morning DJs, rather than the news. If you take the train, listen to programs on your headphones or read an inspirational book. This can cost you nothing, because there are several great audio programs and inspirational books available for free at your local library. Your reward for this activity is that by the time you get to work, you’ll be in a great mood!

Also, you are infusing your consciousness with positive thoughts that you will carry with you throughout the day and possibly influence your co-workers, as well.

Your Second Home

Keep special items on your desk such as a quartz paperweight, framed pictures of loved ones, or postcards of beautiful landscapes and nature scenes hanging on your walls to center yourself and remind you of your path. However, do not keep too much so as to be obnoxious or flashy about it (for example something that extends beyond your cube space).

For audio ambiance, listen to gentle, relaxing music, if you’re allowed to do so. Wearing headphones (if feasible) is a nice way to enjoy your music without disturbing anyone.

For a daily lift, get a desk calendar with inspirational quotes. You can even share them with visitors, if they are interested, or set it in a place that passersby or visitors can easily see. In fact, you can put an inspirational quote on your screen saver to be shared with onlookers when you’re away from your desk, as well.

Dawn M. Staszak has worked in commercial and non-profit, large and small companies, both as a permanent and temporary employee for over nineteen years. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration (Sales and Marketing) and two Associate degrees. She is currently a Senior Administrative Assistant in a Fortune 500 company.

Excerpted from A Guru in the Office: 50 Ways to Remember Your Spirit in the Corporate World, by Dawn M. Staszak. Published by RealityIs Books, June, 2009, it is available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com, and through most online and retail bookstores. Dawn can be contacted via her website www.guruintheoffice.com , through her publisher at 866-534-3366, or email publish@realityisbooks.com.

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