Just nine years away from what he referred to as the socially acceptable date for retirement, Sam shared about the fear of filling his time—“I need to keep my brain active, and I’m not sure what I’ll do without people needing my help, or the excitement of winning the deal. My work brings purpose and structure to my days.”
When work provides such a strong sense of identity, belonging and accolades, letting go of the known for what’s next can be terrifying. The feeling of being needed, having a sense of belonging, and the adrenaline of accomplishment can stop us from disconnecting on vacation, spending quality time with friends/family, relaxing or even retiring.
When habits are deeply rooted in accomplishment, it’s difficult to trust the stillness, especially when the accomplishments are netting accolades that stir cravings for more. These cravings can easily keep us hustling even when we’re ready to step into our next greatest area of contribution.
Experience (and research) has continuously demonstrated that the greatest way to see the path striving to reveal itself is by getting quiet, unplugging and listening intently. Through silence and authentically connecting with ourselves, we gain the capacity to hear and see our greatness.
The silence grants us access to seeing our path, along with the grit (courage) to step onto it.
“I want to know God’s thoughts, the rest are details.” –Albert Einstein
Once there, the peace and freedom from incessant nagging to maintain a certain level of success diminishes. We begin to experience the truth of our inherent worthiness in the silence, and cease to need the adrenaline shots provided by external validation. Such stillness grants us the access we need to hear our next direction.
So, how do we explore such stillness in a way that is sustainable and enriching, rather than consuming and overwhelming? Start small, notice what’s helpful and then build on it.
Here’s a great way to get started:
- Grab a timer and set it for five minutes.
- Sit in a comfortable position with your hands resting on your knees, facing toward the sky, and then push the start button on the timer.
- Close your eyes and notice the thoughts running through your mind, the pace of your heart, the sounds around you, the areas of your body that feel tense, and relaxed. The key: simply notice.
Becoming the observer of your own experiences is a natural and kind way of helping yourself see what you may be missing during the busyness of the day. This approach is far easier to incorporate and build upon then throwing ourselves into a multi-week silent meditation retreat.
Getting started and staying consistent are two critical elements to getting the most value out of meditation. Said simply, comfort and clarity don’t tend to come in one session, though the compound effect will aid greatly in gaining the clarity you seek.
When entering a new phase in life, it’s natural to go through an “identity crisis” of sorts. After existing one way for a prolonged period of time, “flipping a switch” and living a different way feels unnatural and like a complete waste of time.
It’s important to waste your time, though! Doing so allows us to realize things about ourselves that we never thought about until now. There are ways to use everyday (and even mundane) activities to gain the clarity you crave. It seems impossible, but once you have the roadmap for getting there, it won’t seem so daunting.
Check back next week to find out why it’s important to “waste” your time and what you can do to help carve the path you desire for your future.
Here’s to your greatness,
P.S. Been meditating for a while? Ready to add to your practice? The following are a few helpful additions:
—Add another five-minute session at a different time during the day.
—Put a pen and paper next to your meditation spot and give yourself a couple of extra minutes to write down any thoughts or ideas.
—Add breathing exercises or chanting to your meditation.
—Keeping your eyes closed, add stretching/movement. Doing so gives you a chance to feel where you may be holding tension. Pick one or two from this list to get started, and then trust your body to add in additional moves.
—Increase from five minutes to ten minutes.