Each time I write a column I'm aware of a piece of pressure-pressure to write something that is inspiring and relevant. Of course, I know you all want to read something that feels relevant to your life and inspiring in some way. Now can I let myself know that and at the same time, trust I have inspiration instead of pushing or pressuring it to come out?
The problem in working from pressure is that whatever one knows, or whatever one does, gets undermined in critical ways. We might get hypercritical of what we are doing when pressure is our fuel, or we might try to do too much...going into overkill mode and we get tired and exhausted mentally and physically!
You might wonder, "Well, if I don't push myself or pressure myself, how will I produce?" or "I don't know any other way other than muscling my way through it!"
Being present can be our alternative to pushing.
We all know so much; in what we've learned via our intellect throughout our lives, what we've learned through experience and what we know in our heart of hearts. Yet, often when it comes time to contribute in whatever way it is, whether it's in writing a column for a newsletter, or getting new clients for your business, or getting your kids to do their homework...whatever...we may lose touch with doing by being and default to doing from pushing.
I remember back in the early days of Kripalu Center when it was Kripalu Ashram and I was an ashram resident...we talked about discerning activities in terms of what is an energy gain process verses an energy drain process. We were very focused on what enhances prana and what depletes prana-prana is our fundamental energy, our life force that can be used for both spiritual growth and material growth.
We can push ourselves to grow spiritually or materially and drain ourselves in the process. Or we can try the non-push variety of trusting our inner being-its timing and inspiration. Trusting our inner being requires us to be present in this moment and not push ourselves into the finishing of something that is out there in the next moment.
What I want to offer you in this e-newsletter is how to shift gears from pressure to presence. Try this experiment:
Catch yourself as you discover your moments of pushing the river in your life. Inevitably, you will experience this as tension as well as a draining of your energy. This is something you can feel! That's both the good news and the bad news. Good news is you can feel tension and exhaustion and bad news is you will be feeling tension and exhaustion. Reward yourself in that moment as you experience your awareness catching yourself in an unrewarding way of being.
The next step is to breathe. Try 2-3 breaths to interrupt this cycle of pushing and just like in mindfulness meditation on the breath that many of you may already do, just label or note "pushing" or "pressuring".
This simple mindfulness technique that many of us employ while meditating when we wander away from minding the breath to being caught in a thought or a cascade of various thoughts, is to label or note "thinking". In this simple acknowledgment, we break the bondage with that activity as we observe it.
In mindfulness meditation we go back to being with the breath, but in this activity how do we just be? How do we shift from pressure to presence? Your 2-3 breaths are the first bridge from pressure into presence. Now we can try on the possibility that there is another force within that isn't about pushing the river and muscling through the activity?
Here's your mantra: ask inside, "Is there a presence inside, maybe in my heart or my guts, where my inner knowing, my inner life force can emerge and guide what I say and do?"
Notice what shift might happen when you ask your inner being to emerge. I trust that our spirit, our life force is there inside us and is inherently intelligent. I believe it lives in our heart's knowing and gut experience can be a guide in our lives and help us all gain energy as we do what we are called to do.
In this experiment, notice how you may go back and forth between accessing your presence and then slipping back into pressure. Just catch it, name it. Breathe. Use the mantra again-"is there a presence inside that can emerge...?"
Now, as I finish this article I can truly say that I feel I gained more energy in writing this as I tried on writing without pressure. Honestly, I quickly wrote this without feeling hurried or rushed-there were moments, I caught them, noted them and tried on the mantra. The quickness had to do with the absence of pressure, for the most part, and the allowing of my own inner knowing to write this article. Interesting, how we can even work at a quick pace without it coming from pressure!
I hope you enjoyed reading this column, and more importantly, I hope this can help you today, tomorrow and the next day...
Blessings on your path!