“The place where people meet to seek the highest -- is holy ground,” was the saying above the stage in the auditorium of my elementary school. (I attended the Ethical Culture School in New York City where the search for meaning, purpose, and justice was introduced in the earliest grades.)
During long, boring assemblies, I would read that statement and imagine what it might mean for me. I knew, from Hebrew school, that it was a reference to the moment described in the Bible when Moses stands before the Burning Bush and hears the voice of God telling him to remove his shoes because he was standing “on holy ground”.
I was thinking about that phrase the other day as I sat down at my desk.
My desk is a place I spend a lot (maybe too much) time. My kids sometimes call it “the vortex” because it can suck me in so deeply. Of course, some of the time I spend at the desk is joyous, energizing and fulfilling. Other times, it’s more an exercise in frustration and angst. Because I spend so much time there and invest so much of my life energy - I want it to be a place I seek the highest. A place of holy ground .
What turns a desk, a work space , into holy ground?
There are five key actions and attitudes that convert an ordinary desk – or any work space - into a holy ground. Here they are:
The first step is an inner ritual of clarification. Because, if you’re not clear inwardly – than it will be impossible to experience the sacred nature of your work. According the wisdom in my childhood assembly hall, you step onto holy ground the instant you’re seeking “the highest”.
So, what is the highest for you in your work?
Not what goal are you working on. Not what vision are you trying to realize. Those are important and necessary considerations. But, before you focus on vision, goals, or tasks, how about stepping onto holy ground?
Focusing on vision and goals orients you towards a desired future. This is very important in terms of the creative process. But, before you move forward towards vision and goals, be sure you’re starting from holy ground.
You enter holy ground by “seeking the highest” in the present moment.
Not in the future – but right here and now. You’re on holy ground the instant you seek the highest. Because, to seek in the present moment doesn’t’ require time. In the present moment, seeking and finding merge. To seek in the present moment means: attune to, breathe in, and embody that which is holy. Not to go after it. To be it. To be on fire. To step onto holy ground is to become the burning bush.
What sacred qualities do you seek to embody and express through your thoughts, speech, and actions at work?
Attune to those now. Breathe them now. And embody them now. Take your stand on holy ground.
Is your desk cluttered? Remove whatever is unnecessary. Do this both as a practical matter but also as a ritual. What converts an conventional activity into a ritual is your state of consciousness. As you remove, put away, throw out all that is unnecessary realize – in consciousness – that you are making room for the highest qualities to express themselves fully in your work.
Traditionally there are two ways to purify a sacred space: with water or fire.
To purify your desk with water: Take a glass of pure water infused with a few drops of essential oil. Hold the glass in both hands at your heart. With eyes closed, emanate those “highest” qualities (from step 1) into the water. Then, gently clean your desk with the blessed water. As you do so, recognize that you are imbuing your physical work space with those very qualities.
To purify with fire: Light a candle or some incense and gently wave it over the surface of the desk and around the work space. As you move the light, envision that you are radiating those highest qualities into your space.
What can you put on your desk or hang on the wall next to your work space that will remind you of the beauty – the highest – that you want to express through your work?
If the only images and artifacts that you see around you are all reminders of tasks, goals, and vision – that’s good but not sufficient. What picture, symbol, icon, artwork can you have on your desk or desk top that will remind you of that which is most beautiful?
At the end of the day – or when you complete a task – stop and be still for a moment. Breathe and reflect on the ways in which your thoughts, speech, and actions have embodied those highest qualities. Allow yourself to experience those qualities again as you review your day. And amplify your inner experience of the meaning, value, and purpose of your work by experiencing how those qualities have been present. Notice that even when you may have forgotten them, they didn’t forget you.
Be aware of the times you consciously stepped onto holy ground.
Appreciate the ways in which you were brought face to face with the sacred. And then, to further amplify those blessings – inwardly send those highest qualities out into the world for the benefit of all beings.
What are ways that you create sacred space & holy ground at work?
Love & Shanti,
E & D