Inspiration & Trust...
Recently I became fired up following a Yoga and Personal Transformation weekend with the international kundalini yoga teacher Gloria Latham. I came away inspired, with more clarity and more of a committed mindset towards my career and life in general. It’s interesting how at the end of the 5 workshops I could have written pages and pages about what I learnt, but now a month later only the deepest imprints that were made in those workshops remain.
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In instances like this, or post reading an amazing and informative book, I would occasionally feel mild annoyance and stress not being able to remember all that I found interesting at the time. Sharing this often-occurring dilemma once with a friend, she responded with something along these lines, “You will remember that which makes most sense to you and what resonates the most with you at the time, that’s why it sticks, that’s what’s most important.” Today’s information overload society, where we are constantly absorbing, analysing and processing a bombardment of external stimuli, can be hugely overwhelming. So, I think we can take comfort in what my friend was saying, remember what you remember, let the rest go, and those forgotten pieces of information or teachings will resurface again when the time is right.
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Following those workshops, here are the main things that resonated with me, which also tie in with other lessons and insights that I have recently been inspired by…
Clarity is everything. For a long while my mantra would be ‘gain more focus’ or ‘be more productive’. I can see now why those were a challenge for me at the time because I wasn’t on a path of purpose. How can you move towards anything if you don’t know what you want or where you’re going?
“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” (Reinhold Niebuhr)
There are certain things in our life which right now we might not have clarity with, control over or the ability to change them, so in my experience it’s best to put them aside. Try not to fret about them, keep putting one foot in front of the next and let things unfold in time.
There are, however, dreams – goals – challenges in which we do have control. In these situations, this is what I find helpful – give them space, sit with them, breath with them, meditate upon them, ask yourselves honest questions, allow the space of stillness and nothingness between the thoughts to expand. Allow yourself to be guided, not from the thinking, egoic mind, but by pure consciousness.
You’ll know when you start to gain clarity, as you’ll start to feel inspired. You’ll enter a state of flow where you will get clear ideas of how to move forward. Then you’ll be able to see those actions you can take that are within your means and power, that will help you move towards achieving what you set your mind to. Write it all down, organise it and formulate a plan. This will then empower you and now that you have something tangible to work with, your enthusiasm will increase.
This has been a huge changing point for me. On the business side of things, it’s so easy when you’re self-employed to say to yourself you want to do something, but because you have no-one checking your progress you can let that original plan/idea fall to the way-side. However, when you have a clear idea of the bigger picture of what you want to achieve and know what steps you need to take towards it, it means you HAVE to take action to move things forward. Whether you are trying to lose weight, attend more yoga classes, find a new job, become more sociable, then be accountable for your progress or lack of it. Or find someone who you can have a daily/weekly check in with to keep you on track.
When you do achieve your daily or weekly target you’ll feel a sense of achievement which has a positive knock on effect, for it’ll boost your mood and motivate you to keep focussed and moving forward in the right direction. By making commitments to yourself like this and following them through, not only will you gain greater trust in yourself and your ability, but your sense of self-belief and self-worth will improve. Others will begin to notice and respect you for that.
If however you don’t achieve what you set out to, don’t get disheartened, ask yourself why is this the case, you’ll know if you’ve got valid excuses or not. Maybe you need to re-assess whether you have been overly optimistic or ambitious in the first place about what you set out to achieve. Or maybe you just need to get clearer with your ‘Why’. Remind yourself what’s the driving force here, the bigger goal etc. And remember every day is a new day to reset, to re-connect to your source of inspiration and to start again!
In “The Chimp Paradox” by professor Steve Peters (a fantastic book about mind management, success, confidence, happiness) he talks about how ‘rewards’ work well with humans. Most of us learnt this to some degree as children but as we developed into wilful adults it became easier to ignore this achievement/productivity strategy. For a long time, I wasn’t good at setting priorities, I’d do all the things I wanted to do first, run out of time that week for the important things I had put off, and this cycle would repeat all over again. Along with gaining greater clarity and purpose for the direction I wanted to head, once I had heard about the ‘rewards’ aspect of getting things done, I couldn’t un-hear it. So now I think twice before gaining the reward first. It’s helped me immensely. I hope it helps you too.
…. Saying all that, taking care of yourself should be your number one priority. Yes, it’s good to be focused and proactive but it’s equally as important, if not more so, to remember we are human beings and not human doings. As I am a high-energy person by nature, I often find that I go into things full force, so for me self-regulation, and monitoring where and how I direct my energy is important. With this increased awareness nowadays, I try to listen to and respect my body’s needs, which is usually simply giving it time to rest and recover. Something most of us could probably benefit from.
I recommend you start to observe your own routine to see if you are giving yourself enough quality time for self-care. Self-care can take many different forms, and everyone’s self-care regimes and rituals will be different, but ultimately, they should leave you feeling in a better state of wellbeing, physical, mental or emotional.
I always remind myself of the wise phrase ‘you can’t give from an empty cup’. So, no matter what needs doing (bar emergencies), if my mind or body feels like apple sauce I know I’ve got to rest. I used to feel guilty about this but now not so much as I have more sense. Why spend two hours doing something, operating at half steam, producing something sub-standard, when I could take a power nap for one hour to fill up my energy and creativity cup, and then the second hour producing far better work. I am sure you might relate to this, so give yourself the time to fill up your own wellbeing cup and you’ll see positive results.
As part of self-care it’s important not to be too hard on yourself and to work with acceptance. I have recently created quite a full schedule for myself, two of the things on there include studying and reading. So even if I read one page of a yoga study book and one page of whatever other inspiring book I am reading I can tick it off my list. The other night I got into bed half asleep, but I still made myself study and read, I read a few pages of each book nodding off after every other word, so half an hour later I had retained nothing. The only thing I had achieved was losing out on some extra quality sleep. This could have been a perfect example of acceptance, the day was done, I hadn’t done all I had set out to but I had done my best and I was no less worthy or wonderful for not having done everything. Lesson of acceptance well learnt. “The Gifts Of Imperfection” by Brene Brown is a great read I recommend, in which ‘acceptance’ crops up a lot.
The bigger lessons of acceptance and the art of mastering it is a broader topic of conversation so for now I will leave it here. On that note, my friends, be gentle with yourselves, accept that we all have limits, accept that your super powers need replenishing and as Reinhold Niebuhr said accept the things we cannot change and change the things we can.
Peace and Love,