Let’s face it, there are no guarantees in life. So my title is a big ole lie! However, there are ways to make even the most unappealing tasks more meaningful. From a yoga perspective, karma yoga, or the yoga of action as it is referred to in the Bhagavad Gita*, is to do any task with full presence, full attention, with full effort. To do a task in this way is to lose yourself in it. In this same scripture, in a conversation between Krishna and Arjuna, Krishna says ‘you have a right to the work itself, not to its fruits’. What does that mean? That we think only of the task at hand and doing it with the utmost care to the best of our abilities. We don’t think about what it might do for us, but how we are giving. We don’t consider the end result, but the very task you are working on right now.
When we set goals we look to the end goal, but then we focus our attention on the steps it takes to get there. When we stay focused on the end, and don’t break it down into the little steps it takes to get there, we become overwhelmed at times . It feels too big. This is the same concept. We know where we are going, we are aware of the big picture, but we focus our attention to the task at hand.
Giving feels amazing. Think of those times that you have given to someone not with an attitude of what you will get in return, but simply to give. How the receiver felt, how you felt. I know for me, it’s sometimes as if my heart has actually swelled; my chest opens, I walk a bit taller, I feel lighter. There’s no mistake in that – we have lifted our energy, we vibrate at that higher frequency that we often seek out as spiritual beings. The same can happen in our everyday tasks. We are giving our attention, our abilities without consideration of the ‘get’.
When we work for the sake of a job well done without grinding through the day to make a paycheque, we achieve that higher frequency. We are taking our yoga off the mat. Our work becomes our meditation. Whether you’re balancing the books or cleaning toilets, this attitude of giving full attention will have the same effect. It will lighten the load so to speak.
*The Gita, as it is often referred to, is a scripture that is part of Mahabarata. This is a Hindu epic that has been part of yoga philosophy since the start. It is a conversation between Krishna and Arjuna as Arjuna comes to terms with fighting in a war. I’ve written quite extensively about it on this blog. Posts that start with “The yoga of” are part of my series on the Gita.