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Connecting With Work in a Deeply Satisfying Way.

Darlene Cohen

After many years in the corporate world, there is a feeling of "sameness" and automaticity to my tasks and projects at hand.  Since reading and practicing the exercises in the book, I feel excited and renewed about my work.  It has helped me bridge the separation I have felt between work and my personal life.  Very inspiring!"

--Carol Paul
Sr. Benefits Specialist

The One Who is Not Busy explores our increasingly fast-paced environment in which we try to live our lives and perform our work.  Its danger is that it can rob us of our human experience ---its challenge, the opportunity to develop and refine our human capacities --- Darlene shows us the way through the challenge.

The One Who Is Not Busy provides us with; both a paradox and hope; - that we can be both busy and not busy at the same time --- that we have a choice in how we live our lives no matter what the external conditions.

Darlene draws us a map for a more satisfying and meaningful life and work experience.  She takes us via a direct route by going to the core of the situation.  The external pace of our lives can be very hectic, but it is our attention that is the key to the quality of our lives.  It becomes a question of whether we travel the path of a scattered attention or the path of a focused attention.  The answer determines the destination.

The One Who Is Not Busy provides us with some very practical and earthy tools (a series of practices and exercises) for developing the skills of focusing our attention and inhabiting our bodies.  In fact, they work in tandem, each being a reminder for the other - the result is the direct experiencing of ourselves and our world.

All individuals who are truly concerned about their work lives will keep this book within reach, as with everything, there is a payment – a price to be paid.  The exercises Darlene describes require effort and persistence.  But it is a small price for such huge rewards: the experience of living our moments – living our days – and living our lives.

--Mary- Louise Freeberg,
Executive Consultant

If you are like most people, you do not really enjoy your work.  This book may truly help you.  Books that help us how do to our work abound.  However, they don't address an important question, how to get joy from your work.  Because of joy, we can continue to WANT to work.  This book fills this important need.

--Tom Dickerman,
Retired Manager, City Distribution Division
San Francisco Water Department

"The One Who....Satisfying Way is a guide to anyone confronted in daily and commercial life with ambiguity, complexity, moral challenges and the other realities of life. An owner or manager must find a way to face life each day. It can be hard, painful and filled with stress or it can be the way Darlene Cohen describes it. I choose the Cohen way."

--Michael Phillips,
Past Corporate VP, entrepreneur and author of several business books including Seven Laws of Money and Honest Business.

This book brings a traditional Buddhist teaching story into the contemporary era and shows, thru numerous exercises and examples, how we can develop a minute-to-minute "awareness" that enriches our everyday lives. Practical, simple, and effective, I find myself constantly referring to Darlene's wisdom as I navigate my version of a modern, "busy" life.

--Mark Scheeff,
"Engineer, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab".

Having spent 25 years working as an Emergency Room Physician, I know all to well the importance of being able to focus and sustain one's attention at will... Multiple ambulances can arrive within minutes of one another. Multitasking is essential in caring for 4 to 5 life threatening illnesses simultaneously... Darlene teaches just how to do this, while remaining relaxed, reassuring, and mentally focused for each person. Simultaneous inclusion as taught in the book is one of the most useful tools one can have in a busy ER. Everyone benefits and burn out is prevented...

--Joel Samuels M.D.

"A must read! For all of us who find ourselves caught up in our hectic lives, racing from one task to another, never seeming to have time to relax, this book offers an alternative."

--John Oliver Wilson,
University of California, Berkeley

After reading and practicing the ideas and exercises in The One Who Is Not Busy, the "dead time" in a busy day - waiting in line, walking down a hallway - is now a gift to be savored. Even while rushing to meet a deadline, or sitting through a stressful meeting, I experience more moments that open up beyond my habitual task-oriented and judgmental thinking, - perhaps sinking into body/breath, or having a sense of deep connection, or of just being. I can play with time, instead of always striving to conquer or outwit it. I look forward to buying copies of the book for friends and family - I am so glad your company is doing this. thanks,

Sara Theiss, Lawyer

I hope this finds you well, and content with the level of business and busyness in your life. I just read a nice little book called The One Who Is Not Busy by Darlene Cohen. She addresses this issue of "busyness" which seems to be a dilemma for most of us in these times of an accelerated pace of work and demanding schedules. Many of us feel overwhelmed by our responsibilities and commitments. We need and/or want to work, but we yearn to feel less stressed and enjoy it more. (This subject may someday be a column in itself.) In the meanwhile, you may enjoy checking out Cohen's book for some ideas on ways to manage this dilemma in order to "connect with work in a deeply satisfying way," which is the subtitle of her book.

Mary Luttrell, Marketing Consultant

BYLINE: Rosemary Winters , The Salt Lake Tribune (Utah)

Darlene Cohen, a Zen priest at the San Francisco Zen Center, says job dissatisfaction is often a result of inattention to the present moment.  She teaches meditation techniques, which are described in her book The One Who Is Not Busy, to help clients learn mindfulness. Being fully present, she says, helps people reduce stress and find enjoyment in every task.
Many Americans find difficulty focusing on the present moment because a success-oriented society teaches them to only value end results, Cohen says. Workers may find fleeting satisfaction in a paycheck, a promotion or an award but not in the day-to-day tasks on which they spend most of their time. “If you just focus on goal orientation, you get overwhelmed and life is fundamentally empty."  Instead, Cohen recommends discarding categories so that every task is valued equally and each day is a flow of meaningful activity.

Natural Health Magazine, June 1, 2004, Copyright 2004 Weider Publications
BYLINE: Kallen, Ben

There are two approaches to creating a gratifying work experience, says Darlene Cohen, L.M.T., a priest of the San Francisco Zen Center and author of The One Who Is Not Busy: Connecting With Work in a Deeply Satisfying Way. First, take a truly refreshing break. Cohen describes a South American tribe that walked day after day, but took frequent rest stops "to let their souls catch up with them. "You can let your soul catch up with you by shifting your full attention from work to something else, then back again. The time period can vary from gazing momentarily out the window to observing a day of rest ("I love the concept of the Sabbath") to taking a long vacation.

Cohen calls the second approach "simultaneous inclusion." Keep your Soul with you by doing whatever is in front of you with your whole heart and mind. Learning to focus and sustain your attention at will is the most important way to improve the quality of your working life.

To hone that skill:

• Pay attention to what you are doing at the time, rather than being distracted by what you are not doing.

• Resist chopping up time into arbitrary stress-inducing segments that we label busy/not busy, important/trivial or business life/personal life. "All of it is our own time," says Cohen. "Think of it as a seamless flow of both time and movement."

• Be engaged by the activity itself, rather than being invested in the outcome.

• Practice mindfulness by eating, walking, listening to music and conversing with others consciously and with your full attention. Turn everyday activities into meditations.

Copyright 2004 The Miami Herald, June 21, 2004 Monday

The One Who Is Not Busy: Connecting With Work in a Deeply Satisfying Way.
Darlene Cohen. Gibbs Smith Publishers. 144 pages. $14.95.

Zen philosophy makes a lot of sense in a world where logic and empiricism often seem beside the point. Cohen's slim volume offers soothing advice to those who are constantly pressured from within. It's mainly a matter of focus, according to Cohen, so she offers gentle advice and exercises to align the mind with the matters at hand.


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