Conscious labor

Conscious labor and intentional suffering are not so much separate practices as twin pillars of what amounts to essentially a single spiritual obligation.

Conscious labor is basically any intentional effort that moves against the grain of entropy, i.e., against that pervasive tendency of human consciousness to slip into autopilot. It means summoning the power of conscious attention (in our era perhaps more widely known as 'mindfulness') to swim upstream against that pervasive lunar undertow drawing us toward stale, repetitive, mechanical patterns, the siren call of World 96.

If conscious labor increases our capacity to stay present, intentional suffering radically increases the heartfulness of that presence. Intentional suffering goes head-to-head with that well-habituated pattern to move toward pleasure and away from pain. It invites us to step up to the plate and willingly carry a piece of that universal suffering, which seems to be our common lot as sentient beings in a very dense and dark corner of the universe. The size of the piece does not matter. It can be as small (though not easy!) as "bearing another human being's unpleasant manifestations," or as vast as "greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his neighbor."

~ Cynthia Bourgeault in EYE OF THE HEART