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Dec 13, 201811:49 AM Live Well, Work Well

with Debra Lafler

The spiritual workplace: It’s about connection

(page 1 of 2)

Do you have a spiritual workplace? Do you want one? Could you create one? Is it even possible to do so? The concept seems like an oxymoron. How can you blend spirituality and work, especially at a secular workplace? It’s not only easy but also necessary if you want your employees and your business to thrive.

Everything is connected

We like to think there is separation between body, mind, and spirit, but there isn’t. We also like to think there is separation between work, home, family, friends, community, finances, and the environment, but there isn’t. Everything is intertwined. Everything affects everything, and everything is connected.

Employee wellness as method

This is why, in part, worksite wellness is a field that is ever expanding in scope. When a company focuses on employee well-being, everything improves — not just the health of individuals, but also overall employee engagement, productivity, creativity, customer service, sales, recruitment, retention, and so on.

Why do you think that is? Is it a product of physical health improving? Some may say so, but over the years I’m sure you’ve met some pretty healthy or physically fit people who were not mentally, spiritually, or socially well. Equally, you’ve probably met some people who have been challenged with health conditions or who are not very physically fit, but are intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and socially amazing individuals.

So, while everything is intertwined, not everything is causal, nor are there perfect formulas. Why? Because we can’t control all the variables. For example, someone can be following all the recommended healthy lifestyle behaviors, managing their emotions, have healthy relationships, have a fulfilling profession, have enough money, and still get diagnosed with cancer. We can’t control nor predict everything.


So, what can we do? We can start by seeing the whole rather than the pieces. We can notice that we are not body, or mind, or spirit, but all one. We can notice that we are not individuals who are separate from our relationships or work or home or community, but that we are all connected to everyone and everything all the time.

This seems big, I know. Hang in there with me.


What does this have to do with spirituality? Everything!

First, let’s define body, mind, and spirit to assist us. The body is the physical, the part of us that we can see, touch, feel, move, and so on. The mind is the intellect, cognition, thoughts, and processing of information and feelings. So, what is the spirit?

Most of us freeze in fear at this question because there is a connotation with religious belief systems about the spirit or soul. However, taking religion out of it for a moment, let’s rethink the definition of the spirit.

Consider this — if our body changes (if we lose or gain weight, get older, get an injury, illness, or disability, or even lose a limb) are we still the same person? Yes, of course! And if our mind changes (our thoughts, feelings, knowledge, experience, attitudes, beliefs, fears, and perspectives), are we still the same person? Yes, of course! So, then, who are you? Are you just your body and/or your mind? No, of course not! There is an identity or essence of “you” that is timeless and changeless. That’s your spirit.

The spirit is the “you” that has looked out your eyes your entire life and watches as a compassionate witness as your life unfolds. It’s the “you” that people who love you see, feel, and know. It’s the “you” that is emotionally touched by moments of love, peace, and beauty. It’s the “you” that creates your sense of meaning and purpose. It is the “you” that feels the will to live and desire to thrive. And it’s the “you” that feels connected to others — humanity, nature, and all life.

Spirituality is the quality, condition, and fostering of the spiritual essence. It is the attention and intention of noticing, appreciating, and igniting the human spirit. Now, we don’t usually use the term spirit, spiritual, or spirituality at work because we don’t want to offend anyone, nor appear like we are taking a stance on a religious view, and we want to be inclusive of all religions and belief systems. However, just like I stated before, let’s take religion out of the equation in order to use the terms freely.

Spirituality for a workplace is simply the practice of paying attention to our company’s energy, vitality, and vibe. Some questions to help you think about this: Who are you as a company? Not your products, finances, statistics, or even strategic goals, but instead what are you about? If someone were to describe you, what would they say? More importantly, what would they feel? What would your employees say? What does it feel like to be a part of your company? Does it feel alive? Does it feel like there is a sense of vitality, mission, purpose, positive potential, and drive? Do employees feel connected? Do employees feel like they are inspired to be a part of something bigger than themselves?


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About This Blog

Debra Lafler is a Madison-based wellness consultant, coach, and speaker with over 20 years of experience in the field. She currently works as the employee wellness and employee assistance program manager for the Wisconsin State Department of Health Services, and as an adjunct instructor for the University of Wisconsin’s Health and Wellness Management program. She also is available privately to hire as a business consultant, personal coach, or motivational speaker. Debra has a doctorate degree in Divinity & Spiritual Studies from Emerson Theological Institute; a master’s degree in Health & Behavior Studies specializing in Health Education from Columbia University; a bachelor’s degree in Communication, with certificates in Wellness and Coaching from The University of Wisconsin—Parkside; and certificates in Worksite Wellness, Holistic Stress Management, Grief Support, and Yoga. She can be reached at or



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