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Awake at Work: 35 Practical Buddhist Principles for Discovering Clarity and Balance in the Midst of Work's Chaos Paperback – February 14, 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Carroll, a businessman and graduate of a Buddhist seminary, brings the sitting cushion into the boardroom with this collection of teachings designed to illuminate the power that mindfulness—"being somewhere completely"—can have at work. By surrendering to the moment, one becomes "alert, open, and unusually skillful," and in this way, Carroll asserts, "our work actually becomes our spiritual path." In brief, accessible chapters, Carroll expounds some 35 slogans designed to be both fodder for meditation and mnemonic devices for when that particular message can help the most, during an opportune moment at work. Many of the slogans are catchy, and their teachings are pointed and easy to recall: "Welcome the tyrant" helps one to disarm a cranky boss; "Avoid idiot compassion" reminds one to eschew giving merely superficial help. But other slogans are more obscure and their teachings more convoluted: "Study the six confusions" and "Extend the four composures." Carroll relates the spiritual principles to practical business settings—such as cherishing the "small boredom" of an elevator ride—and casual readers will gain some helpful tips for handling their professional lives. Yet for the uninitiated, Carroll's simple mindfulness slogans may appear merely simplistic, leaving the slogans' greatest impact for those who already have some experience with—and faith in—the practice of mindfulness training.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"If you're thinking about really showing up for the tens of thousands of hours you'll spend working during your life, you'll want to read this book."—Shambhala Sun

"One of the best books ever written about practicing spirituality on the job."—Spirituality and Health

"Highly recommended."—Mandala

"Refreshingly practical and down to earth."—The Beacon



"A revelatory book that brilliantly applies Buddhist principles to the life of work and vice versa."—Warren Bennis, University Professor, University of Southern California, and author of On Becoming a Leader


"Michael Carroll does not just write about being awake at work; he has lived that awakening, thoroughly and inventively. His adaptation of Buddhist mindfulness to the complexities of modern employment is a singular and valuable accomplishment, giving us pithy exhortations and detailed instructions for being awake and aware in every workplace situation."—Lewis Richmond, author of Work as a Spiritual Practice

"An invaluable guide to surviving—and thriving—in today's demanding business environments. I've drawn on Michael's brilliant and wise advice for years. Now everyone can benefit from his wealth of insight and experience."—Deborah Dugan, president, Disney Publishing Worldwide

"A truly unique book. The wisdom that has been developed in two very different realms—that of business and spiritual practice—join together to create much richer insight and wisdom. Given the struggles of these times, these teachings are extremely important."—Margaret J. Wheatley, author of Leadership and the New Science
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala; Reprint edition (February 14, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590302729
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590302729
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #248,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Most of us spend a third of our adult lives at work, and for many it is not much fun. It becomes something that we do to pay the bills, rather than being a fulfilling activity in which we can be fully engaged. Even for people in the professions that require a lot of thinking, work often becomes a bit of a hindbrain activity that people can do in their sleep.

For the last three decades I have been asking three questions:
"Why do so many people sleep walk through life?"
"Would they thank us if they woke up?" and
"What could we do to help them wake up?"

The author of this important book helps provide some answers. He founded Awake at Work Associates, a consultancy that specializes in helping organizations and individuals apply mindfulness awareness in the workplace, to help both recover balance and well-being in work. Michael Carroll is both a practicing Buddhist who is an authorized teacher in the lineage of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and has over two decades experience in human resources in several large companies. He teaches mindfulness meditation at the Omega Institute, New York Open Center, and the Wharton Business School in Philadelphia.

Michael encourages us to explore our relationships to work and his book is full of practical and uplifting suggestions that are grounded in his work in meditation.

One good example is this: he points out that if we are going to be awake at work, we need to understand how we fell asleep. In Tibetan Buddhism, meditators study the six confusions or "mindsets that describe how we imprison ourselves at work.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was a godsend for me. I read a section of it EVERY morning before I go to work. I've worn out two copies and just ordered more. If your job gets under skin in any way, shape or form, do yourself a large favor and get this. And by the way, you can swap the word "work" with "life" and the wisdom becomes even broader. GREAT BOOK.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We work most of our lives. Some people have odd jobs throughout life, others work at long steady careers. No matter if you're a dishwasher at a restaurant or a lawyer, this book opens you up to the idea that there are lessons to be learned, from the people you have run-ins with to the tasks you complete throughout the day. I suggest this book to anyone who thinks they're missing their calling. With a new view point, you could very well be exactly where you want!
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Format: Paperback
This book has been invaluable to me since at the root of the recent slump I've found myself in, is a newfound hatred of my job. Carroll explains in a very engaging way how our own resistance to situations at work creates the stress that leads to depression and unhappiness. He explains the importance of staying out of the "blaming state of mind." I knew I had to get myself together, as I teach for a living, and can't just "zone-out" behind a computer - and as someone with a spiritual bent, traditional therapy and prozac simply wasn't an option. This is one of the books that has been instrumental in getting back on track. Other Buddhist-type books that have also been unbelievably helpful (especially in terms of bringing mindfulness into the workplace as a form of healing):

1. The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness
2. Buddha in the Classroom; Zen Wisdom to Inspire teachers
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I love this book, have re-read it several times, and have sent dozens of people copies--virtually all of whom loved the book. It merits being mandatory reading for anyone with a job in a company with more than one person--whether you just got there and it looks great, can't stand it and are on the verge of leaving, or are someplace in-between.

Why?

How many of us work in companies where the environment isn't as healthy as we want it to be? Yet at the same time, we're often unconscious about these toxicities--maybe even distance ourselves from them or the jobs that create them. We often attribute the job of bettering the work experience to "them"...or maybe even change the environment for our own groups or for the company at large...but in effect treat the people we want to benefit (and ourselves!) as relatively passive participants.

"Awake at Work" sheds a whole new perspective on the workplace experience. NOT just enabling people to see their own role in how they experience work. But giving very specific lenses (35, in fact) on how to change the way work feels FOR US for the better, without the environment having to change one iota. Brilliant! And a very easy, almost poetic read, too. How many books give you a whole new and very positive way to think about and experience a place you spend a lot of your time...can be used in a practical way (e.g., chapter a day)...and are just a good read in the bargain? I found Michael Carroll's "Mindful Leadership" great, too--but "Awake at Work" is entirely unique in my experience of management literature.
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