In November, I offered a workshop and facilitated a conversation on integrating mind and body health with spirituality, broadly defined, at the office of EAP Capital in Albany, NY. Although I had a few things to share bordering on the esoteric and philosophical, much of it focused on pragmatic, practical ways to nurture inner wellbeing on a daily basis.
There are many definitions of spirituality or inner wellbeing ranging from religious to humanist. For purposes of my conversational workshop it was defined as striving for an ongoing awakening to a different consciousness and greater connection to the world around us. It had nothing to do with religion. Ultimately, spirituality is experiencing life and connecting with the larger community and something bigger than our self-interest.
There are hundreds, maybe thousands of books about self-help or spirituality discussing ideas or concepts without offering tangible examples to apply to everyday living. At the workshop I offered several examples. One included my ritual of shopping four or five times a week (using the 14 items or less line) at Hannaford on Consaul Road in Niskayuana, NY. Hannaford, if you’re not familiar with it, is a large northeastern grocery store chain.
Hannaford is my preferred choice based in part on the loyalty established when I lived in Maine and New Hampshire before returning to my native New York about nine years ago.
I make grocery shopping an experience. There are folks at Hannaford who greet me, stock the shelves, tell about the freshest fish, and ask if I found everything I wanted (by the way, more sugar free Oregon Chai concentrate would be nice).
The Hannaford team empower me to buy food to make a meal for friends creating a special evening of fellowship and conversation. Some say many people can stock shelves or cash you out, but considering I easily get lost driving, though born in the area and living here for the past nine years, I’m not so sure. I confess, getting lost in my own neighborhood is possible.
My sense of direction is modest. I’ve been going to the Hannaford in Niskayuana for many years and still I’m not sure where to find things. I should know the place like the back of my hand, but alas a fog settles on the brain when I walk in and think about what I need and where to find it.More important, not just anyone is stocking the shelves, cashing me out, or making sure the store is running well. It’s the familiar faces in Hannaford Niskayuna that I’ve seen for many years that make it happen. These folks, though they probably don’t realize it, contribute to the good times ahead as I prepare someone dinner or send friends Christmas cookies using ingredients bought at their (our) store. (Hannaford corporate – media marketing tip, it’s “our” store).
I’m also tuned in to the other shoppers at Hannaford. There are loving parents buying large amounts of food to feed their family for the week. There’s the tired, underpaid trucker or construction guy picking up a six pack to decompress over the weekend. An office worker might be buying a cake from the bakery for the office to celebrate a colleague’s birthday or new baby.
There’s the widow or widower who has lost the love of their life who shops less, but no doubt is thinking about the spouse who is now with the angels. He or she still shuffles down the aisles buying less, but missing more.
If you realize the parties, celebrations, family dinners, and quiet romantic meals made possible every time you shop then the errand or routine visit becomes a sweet part of life. There’s awesome, positive energy all around you, if you’re sensitive to it.
Spirituality calls us to be tuned in. This connection brings us closer to the mystical. In it we find positive experiences in what some shoppers and a few employees may sadly think are the mundane and uneventful requirements of daily life. Yet they are opportunities to nurture inner wellbeing.
I hope every employee at Hannaford Niskayuna, part- or full-time and regardless of job title, realize their work is valued and valuable. Individually, they are very important. Collectively, this team contributes to creating joy and good memories for others that shoppers too often taken for granted.
Paul Jesep is an attorney, business chaplain, founder of www.CorporateChaplaincy.biz, and author of “Lost Sense of Self & the Ethics Crisis: Learn to Live and Work Ethically”.