For most of my adulthood, it’s felt as if I’ve been waltzing between an addictive race to accomplishment and the exhausted paralysis of perfectionism. It’s not surprising, really, that there are so many of us stuck in this precarious pas de deux. The frantic rhythm of modern society seems to thrive off this fear of not measuring up and its most reliable partner–an addiction to busyness. In a desperate dance to the finish, we often find ourselves routinely steered toward the misguided goal of doing, at the expense of being. Yet the last several years of immersing myself daily in the conscious practice of mindfulness and attentive stillness has had me repeatedly considering the question: If I toss out the obligatory to-dos, do I actually free myself to peacefully flourish?
All the evidence seems to point toward the answer, yes. I notice that when I allow myself to prioritize my ‘soul goals’ over my overwhelming list of to-dos and when I take heed of my natural rhythms–making time for rest, recovery, and relaxation, as needed–I find I am able to get more accomplished than if I tried to force myself to do x, y and z in a strictly prescribed period of time. Greater than the quantity of my work, however, is the heightened quality of my efforts, as well as the peace of mind, body and spirit I feel in the process of doing. The lightness and ease of honoring my truest desires in the long run combat any short-term resistance I might feel in a given moment toward a set to-do. And by honoring what my soul most needs–first and foremost–to feel whole and complete, I create more momentum and enthusiasm to then tackle the more mundane tasks I still need to complete.
I love the power and clarity that results from this realization. How can I not want to celebrate it? I know I need to embrace this truth about myself so much more often that I do. I must remember to honor how I operate. I should better respect what most inspires and motivates me to act. I understand that, by doing so, I gift myself the freedom and space to do both what I need to do and what I want to do with my time and energy–physically, mentally and spiritually.
I recognize that sometimes my soul goals need more specificity and direction–concrete steps that I’ll need to make and take to move closer toward their fruition. Yet, I also realize I may not always be able to check off every last item on that to-do list. I know and accept that I am not likely going to accomplish every single goal I set for myself in a given day, week, month or year. And that’s just fine. It’s good, even, not to always be focusing on the finish line. I’m learning that enjoying the journey brings me far more fulfillment than simply reaching a destination.
I can also admit that I often make overly ambitious goals that are a bit outside of reasonable reach. I sometimes have impossibly high expectations–of myself and of those on whom I most depend. Some ‘failure’ is a naturally a given, then, and missed opportunities are a reality of life. But the room to breathe and reflect, to think and to feel around–and through–these to-dos, is imperative.
Stepping away from frantic activity and letting myself *just be* creates the space for balance and perspective. It gives me the license to recognize the successes I have steered, while nurturing my gratitude for all the great experiences I have been gifted. It lends me the downtime to assess the defeats, deficiencies and damage of my actions and inactions, while presenting me with a myriad of choices and chances to re-shift my focus when I’ve steered off the purposeful path. It equips me with the tools of mindfulness and awareness, to honestly gauge which, of all the things I fill my life with, matter most to me. And, most importantly, it permits me the latitude and leeway to immerse myself in the unknowns of life, to cultivate my curiosity and sense of awe and wonder about the mysteries in my world, while playing in the pool of endless possibility that awaits me–if only in my mind.
As time stretches on, I am figuring out which wishes, wants and need-to-dos are most crucial for creating my own, personal sense of satisfaction and wellbeing. I am clearing my path of pointless pastimes and superfluous distractions that steal my energy instead of feed it. I am cutting out the toxic emotional habits and monkey-mind behaviors. I am waking up, getting aware, and sniffing out what’s a senseless obligation and what’s a heartfelt desire. I am making note of which things sincerely and truly give me the most meaning, fulfillment and contentment.
I have rid my life of carping critics and energy vampires desperate to derail my purposeful and passion-filled journey. I’ve been identifying and seeking out the trusted cheerleaders of my ambitions and the champions of my convictions. But, most of all, I’m relearning how to trust and respect my own urges and gut instincts.
I remember my own, powerful voice. I breathe my way out of frantic overwhelm and paralyzing stuck-ness, freeing myself from emotional and mental turmoil. I get still and quiet long enough to observe and feel the cyclical ebbs and flows of the Universe. I attune my body, mind and soul to the timeless and ceaseless rhythms of nature. I align with the wisdom, strength and joy of my highest self. I invite the lightness and ease of my essential nature into the present nature, allowing true peace to flow through and radiate from me. I invoke the power of the Divine to strengthen, balance, heal and free me from all my distress, fear, pain and sorrow. And from this place of perfect wholeness, the light of my own being will guide me forward in life. Om Supra Niti Swaha