Open left hand in light and shadow

Beings are numberless. I vow to save them.

Delusions are inexhaustible; I vow to end them.

These vows, which are chanted regularly at Zen practice centers, express the fundamental intentions of mindfulness practice – becoming more aware, cutting through our own delusions, and helping others. When stated with some awareness and intention they can elevate our day-to-day activities and provide a larger context in which to live. Though these statements appear lofty and impossible, they act as a target, a set of goals to strive for, a direction in which to point our intentions. Though mindfulness is very practical by nature, it also has a way of challenging us to aim very high and not to be limited by conventional ideas of what is possible. Expressing these intentions makes ordinary activity extraordinary.

Everywhere we look there are problems, pain, and suffering. At each moment we have the chance to be present, to practice at work, and to be fully ourselves. Nothing is stopping us from being open, honest, and vulnerable at work and from meeting others at a deep and intimate level.

There is no end to what we can discover about ourselves. Our bodies, minds, and spirit have no boundaries. Our work provides endless opportunities for self-discovery and growth and for inspiring others. By deeply touching the people we come into contact with at work we can help the world become a place of generosity and peace and move it away from greed and conflict.

The concept of making a vow, or holding a very deep intention, can be foreign to most business environments. This practice seems heavy and serious, especially in contrast to the usual commitments people have regarding their work. Generally, making money to support ourselves and our families is a key motivator, usually followed by our desire to do a good job or to do something useful and fulfilling.

The idea and intention of these vows is to reframe our lives – to live by vow – by intention and aspiration and awareness, instead of living on auto-pilot and habit.

Here is a five minute guided meditation, meant to support your intention to develop your awareness and to help others; essentially to Step Into Your Life.