What is the connection between a spiritual way, a path, and our activities in the world — our craft, our work? Carla Needleman, potter and author, has written provocatively on this topic in her book, The Work of Craft. Even asking the question leads us to approach our relationship between the spiritual dimensions and our day-to-day activities with a wider perspective.

Stepping back from the usual grind of our stories and patterns, we can perhaps begin to discover that beneath our habitual activities we can sense connectedness, yes also interconnectedness. The theory of butterfly effect explores the rippling, expanding waves of sensitive dependence, where systems (and we ourselves are a system too), can unfold in a multitude of different ways from any given point, and it’s impossible to predict–precisely because of the intricate interdependencies–where we will go–or, in spiritual terms, how we will unfold.

Here’s the kicker: as we understand more about brain plasticity and how the brain works–indeed how learning changes our brains–and as modern psychodynamic insights reveal more about how we become the personalities we are — we are led back to the critical role that attention and awareness play in our development– how they actually affect the directions we take and how we unfold.

What are we paying attention to as we work and play, as we eat and relax? Are we present, are in touch with being, or are we stuck in stories about ourselves and others? Are we ‘here, now,’ or are our minds and psyches dwelling in the past and/or the future, as Richard Moss, in his seminal work The Mandala of Being suggests? Where is our attention, our awareness as we go about our lives and work? The answer can be part of a tipping point toward being, creativity, ease, richness, and joy.

I offer up an invitation to reflect on awareness today… what are we paying attention to, what’s happening in our body, our mind, our belly, as we go about our craft, our leisure, our lives?

If you would like to explore this in your volume of BECOMING, we address these questions and connections in several essays, in particular in Flow, on page 189 ff: “We can be very involved in any given activity–teaching, reading, balancing a checkbook…and we can be quite focused and alert, but not aware…more or less running on automatic. …Flow has to do with the degree to which we actually bring full awareness to the activity, are embodied, fully present to what we’re doing.” It is then as if we have added an extra dimension to our bodies and to our experience… focused and alert, yet also aware and richly in our being.

“Without knowing quite how it happens, not really being the doer, but nevertheless showing up, paying attention, being present…opening my mind and heart, I am in sync with the flow, I am lived, I am flow.”

Questions for reflection: Consider a specific activity in your life, a familiar one that you sometimes do on automatic pilot. How do you experience this activity in your usual, everyday mode? Now describe what it could be like to be engaged in this activity when you are fully aware, present, in your body, in the flow? How do, or might, the insights affect your experience of the activity? Of your life?

You may purchase BECOMING on line, or ask your local bookstore to order it! A good option for your book or study group 🙂

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