Monday, November 30, 2015

The Sweet Spot of Career Discernment - Where Aspiration meets Equanimity

I really enjoy working with clients that seek to engage deeply with the arduous process of career transition. In order to ensure that these transitions are not the activation of another "rinse-repeat" cycle (i.e. where you do the same things and end up in similar places), you must thoughtfully engage and gain access to the deep, reflective experience called career discernment.

Discernment comes from the Latin "Discernere" which literally means "to set apart, divide, distinguish, separate" as you would in a sifting process.  So, the essence of discernment is to sift through insights, intuitions, somatic experiences, and external events to determine the coherent narrative meaning of the key messages emerging from both the individual and collective soul.  It is important to remember that "discernment" is often a long process that contains many detours and unexpected curves and as such does not align well with the dominant culture's discernment paradigm which prefers the linear progression of immediate solutions that bring productivity and success.  This is where learning "The Sweet Spot of Career Discernment" becomes most important.

The Sweet Spot of Career Discernment is the point at which Aspiration meets Equanimity. Metaphorically, this spot is the fiery furnace that keeps burning for the whole winter season despite shortages in fuel and a biting, hard cold.   Expressed in terms of the body, the sweet spot of career discernment can be found in the Staff pose in Yoga (see photo to right). Staff pose beautifully expresses both the deep longing of aspiration in the reach of the arms toward the sky as well as the grounded and stabilizing posture of equanimity in the "staff-like" tautness of the hips, legs and spine.  I encourage you to try this pose to get a somatic sense of the truth of holding this tension.

To engage Career Discernment well (i.e. finding its sweet spot), we must hold it like an overnight vigil (see photo to the left)-- waiting, waiting, waiting for the clarifying messages to emerge while staying deeply rooted in that aspirational voice within that knows your deepest yearnings and passions. Equanimity is engaged both in the patience of the waiting but also in the "not getting attached" to the arrival of the messages within a particular timeframe.  It is not uncommon to attend a few career discernment "vigils" and to leave more confused than when you came.  This is part of the process, too  - doubt and uncertainty are necessary for precise clarity to make itself manifest. Equanimity makes space for the discernment pendulum to swing without getting emotionally involved in the swinging.    Equanimity trusts the process long-term and is not thrown about by obstacles, detours and seeming lack of clarity.

So, it is with strong encouragement that I invite all of you going through a career transition to visit the "Sweet Spot of Career Discernment."  From a practical perspective,  you will need to establish and practice the environmental conditions that create your perfect vigil making space.  Remember that vigils are a practice of "devotionally watching" for important information to be spoken from the soul. Holding vigil can begin with a nightly meditation practice and develop into morning journal reflections.  The form of the practice is not the issue here, it is a matter of setting up the program so that both Aspiration and Equanimity are fully engaged and can swing freely and mightily!  For more information on working in this beautiful tension, consider joining the Soulstice Project (a coaching group for Career Discernment) or meeting with Chris Peraro for individual
coaching and/or counseling.

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