Question: Do you have any practical suggestions for athletics, especially for the workers at the restaurant?

Sri Chinmoy: Physical work strengthens your muscles. When I lived in an ashram, I was a very good athlete, but I voluntarily asked the ashram authorities to give me the job of washing the dishes. They reluctantly gave it to me, and I felt that it was the best job I had ever had there. I had had at least ten different jobs at different times, and the best job, according to me, was to wash the dishes. We were only four or five boys, and two thousand people used to eat. It used to take us three hours, but we got the greatest joy. There were no mental problems at all — we just had to wash the dishes.

While you are working at this restaurant, see how many times you have to go downstairs and upstairs. Now, if your conscious mind makes you feel that you are taking exercise for your participation in athletics when you go up and down the stairs, then automatically all your muscles will get enormous strength. But if you remain unconscious, twenty times you can go downstairs and come up and your muscles will not be developed.

In the spiritual life also, it is true that God is for us. But we are trying to become conscious of God. Most people are not atheists, only they are not conscious of God’s Presence. When you become conscious of God’s Presence, you pray and meditate in order to realise God. So while you are working at the restaurant, you will pray, you will meditate. While you are working you will be spiritual. But from time to time you will be aware that while you are doing physical work, you are strengthening your arms so that you can throw the shot-put well. While you are walking from one corner to another, feel that you are taking exercise. Everything is in your consciousness. Otherwise, you will work there for seven or eight hours just like any ordinary worker. They do not focus their attention on either the exercise aspect or the spiritual aspect, so this kind of work does not help them in any way.

Whatever you do, try to keep your consciousness on a particular subject or object. While you are working, you can inwardly meditate, not outwardly. If you start meditating outwardly, everything will be burnt. While you are in the physical plane, you have to be aware, you have to be conscious. Then you will make constant progress.