When we recognize our warrior self, we can exhibit strength without sacrificing tenderness. The human soul is dynamic, adapting readily to the changing conditions we encounter as time marches unerringly forward. Though we may use a single set of characteristics to define ourselves, we slip easily into contradictory roles when circumstances necessitate doing so. When we feel called to explore the way of the warrior, we may feel a strong sense of dismay because we have no wish to disavow ourselves of our softer side. Yet embracing the warrior spirit is not a matter of denying gentleness or compassion -- all human beings embody all traits to some degree, and seemingly contradictory aspects can coexist peacefully within us. We can exhibit strength without sacrificing tenderness precisely because both are elements of the self and both have a role to play in the complexity of existence. Balance is the key that unlocks the door of peaceable coexistence where opposing characteristics of the self are concerned. The warrior spirit, when allowed free reign, is overpowering and all-consuming. If it is to be an affirmative force in our lives, it must be tempered with wisdom and moderation. Our inner warriors are ready to react instantly to conflict, chaos, and confusion, while nonetheless remaining committed to a path of goodwill and fairness. They lie at the root of our dedication to integrity but do not drive us to use our strength to coerce others into adopting our values. The warrior may be nourished by raw emotions with the potential to cause us to lash out, but it channels that energy into positive and constructive action. Your inner warrior is one source of strength you can draw upon in times of great need. When you employ your warrior spirit thoughtfully, it manifests itself as clarity, focus, determination, courage, constancy, and an unflappable zest for life. The warrior views roadblocks as evolutionary opportunities and is not afraid to pursue a purpose to its climax. There is more than enough room in the existence of the warrior for softness and benevolence, and the warrior's willingness to stand up for their beliefs can aid you greatly as you strive to incorporate these ideals into your existence. Exploring this unique side of yourself is a means of broadening your reality so you can internalize mindfulness while meeting life's challenges with an intensity of spirit that never wavers.
Making time for the activities that contribute to your spiritual growth has little to do with being selfish. Modern life compels us to rush. Because we feel pressured to make the most of our time each day, the activities that sustain us, rejuvenate us, and help us evolve are often the first to be sacrificed when we are in a hurry or faced with a new obligation. It is important we remember that there is more to life than achieving success, making money, and even caring for others. Your spiritual needs should occupy an important spot on your list of priorities. Each task you undertake and each relationship you nurture draws from the wellspring of your spiritual vitality. Taking the time to engage in spiritually fulfilling activities replenishes that well and readies you to face another day. Making time for the activities that contribute to your spiritual growth has little to do with being selfish and everything to do with your well-being. Regularly taking the time to focus on your soul's needs ensures that you are able to nurture yourself, spend time with your thoughts, experience tranquility, and expand your spiritual boundaries. It is easy to avoid using our free moments for spiritual enrichment. There is always something seemingly more pressing that needs to be done. Many people feel guilty when they use their free time to engage in pursuits where they are focusing on themselves because they feel as if they are neglecting their family or their work. To make time for yourself, it may be necessary to say no to people's requests or refuse to take on extra responsibilities. Scheduling fifteen or thirty minutes of time each day for your spiritual needs can make you feel tranquil, give you more energy and allows you to feel more in touch with the universe. Writing in a journal, meditating, studying the words of wise women and men, and engaging in other spiritual practices can help you make the most of this time. Making time to nurture your spirit may require that you sacrifice other, less vital activities. The more time you commit to soul-nurturing activities, the happier and more relaxed you will become. The time you devote to enriching your spirit will rejuvenate you and help you create a more restful life.
Our past may read like a document on what not to do, AND we have the present and our future to make a change. When we look back at the past, knowing what we know now, we often find it difficult to understand how we made the mistakes we made. This is because once we learn new information, it is nearly impossible to reenter the headspace we were in before we learned that information. And so we look back at parents who spanked their kids, for example, and wonder how they could have thought that was a good idea. Similarly, our personal pasts are full of mistakes we can't believe we made. We did things then that we would never do now, and this is precisely because we have information now that we didn't have, or weren't able to access, then. From ideas about how to raise children to how to treat the environment, our collective human past sometimes reads like a document on what not to do. In many ways, this is exactly as it should be. We learn from living and having experiences. It is from these past actions that we garnered the information that guides us to live differently now. Just so, in our personal lives, we probably had to have a few unsuccessful relationships or jobs, learning about our negative tendencies through them, in order to gain the wisdom we have now. In order to live more peacefully with the past, it helps to remember that once we know better, we tend to do better. Prior to knowing, we generally do our best, and while it's true that from the perspective of the present, our best doesn't always seem good enough, we can at least give our past selves the benefit of the doubt. We did our best with what knowledge we had. Beyond this, we serve the greater good most effectively by not dwelling on the past, instead reigning our energy and knowledge into our present actions. It is here, in this moment, that we create our reality and ourselves anew, with our current knowledge and information.
Have you ever felt exhausted by your work, even if you love what you do? Or perhaps you’ve felt like you were swimming upstream overwhelmed at your growing to-do list and facing the limited hours in each day. If you have experienced this, you’re not alone.
Exhaustion and burnout can take many forms, but signs of emotional and intellectual burnout are often less visible than physical burnout. This ailment is so prolific that the World Health Organization officially characterized burnout as a medical condition in 2019. According to a recent Gallup study, “76% of employees experience burnout on the job at least sometimes, and 28% say they are burned out “very often” or “always” at work.” The study also discovered that it was how individuals experience their workload that made the most significant impact on their well-being.
Mindfulness supports the development of self-awareness, the first competency of emotional intelligence. When you strengthen this internal capacity, you can discern how you are experiencing and relating to your work. With this knowledge, you can better manage your energy, acknowledge when you need rest and recovery and build capacity for intensive high-performing work periods.
Our world’s current and future challenges require caring and value-driven leaders and community members to envision and embody the future we want to see. In these distinct and challenging times, rest and self-care are essential forms of activism that develop the mental agility and emotional fortitude required to build that future together.
For many years, work culture hasn’t valued rest due to the myth that we are more productive when we power through. This myth perpetuates as we email colleagues at all hours, and they respond—usually within minutes, or when we ask employees to show up early or stay late, and they do. Vacations, where we’re not tethered to working remotely, are almost obsolete. This requirement to be always-on is impacting our well-being and relationships. In the days before cell phones, internet or email, work actually ended at 5 p.m. At today’s pace, there’s limited time for the brain to recover, which is an essential step to building resilience.
Contrary to the antiquated understanding of resilience as forcefully surpassing our limits and depleting our energy reserves, rest and resilience are deeply interconnected. The first step to building resilience is developing a sense of inner-calm; this requires us to press the pause button, whether for a short, 30-second breathing exercise integrated into your workday, or a longer rest period by taking an extended vacation where we fully unplug. Researchers Zijlstra, Cropley and Rydstedt refer to these as ‘internal’ and ‘external’ recovery periods: “internal recovery refers to the shorter periods of relaxation that take place within the frames of the workday or the work setting in the form of short scheduled or unscheduled breaks, by shifting attention or changing to other work tasks when the mental or physical resources required for the initial task are temporarily depleted or exhausted. External recovery refers to actions that take place outside of work—e.g. in the free time between the workdays, and during weekends, holidays or vacations.”
Integrated Daily Self-Care
So how can you create integrated breaks throughout your day for recovery and resilience? The key is to rest the mind, allowing it to pause states of high cognitive or intellectual arousal. Without these breaks, you may deplete your inner-resources and experience exhaustion or burnout.
When we open our computer in the morning and notice the growing list of tasks, it is easy to become so consumed that we neglect our basic needs; hunger, thirst and ‘nature’s call.’ In this heightened state of stress, our nervous system is overactive, leading to increased cortisol, which, if experienced in prolonged periods, can result in illness and disease. Throughout your workday, pay attention to your body’s signals to know when it’s time for a break. How does your body feel as you are working—Is it tensed? Are your breaths short? Are you holding your breath?
Short breaks such as this 2-minute awareness practice can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system so you can recover and approach your work from a relaxed state. When you sense that you need a recovery period, try a meditation, go on a mindful walk or take a real lunch break—without your phone or computer. Brief recovery periods like these improve focus and productivity upon return to work.
Extended Rest and Recovery Periods
Extended recovery periods aren’t solely about taking time off—it’s also how you spend your time off. If you take your vacation days glued to a screen, sending work emails on your days off, you are not allowing your mind to rest in the way that constitutes genuine recovery.
Unplugging can be challenging, especially from our interconnected world. Most managers and leaders do not fully unplug when on vacation, which can unintentionally lead to the breakdown of company culture. Each email you send while on ‘vacation’ conveys a message to employees that time off isn’t actually time-off, and they should expect to be accessible even while on vacation. If your company values employee well-being and you advocate for it, model it by unplugging when you take a vacation. Taking time away from your phone and computer has many benefits, including better sleep, which is another opportunity for you to recover and build the reserves needed for the challenges that lie ahead.
Sleep is crucial for the body and mind to gain external recovery each day though many struggle to get a good night’s sleep. One sleepless night can triple the number of lapses in attention, impair our emotional regulation capabilities, and intensify our negativity bias. To improve the probability of restful sleep, unplug from your devices 30 minutes before bed, set a regular sleep schedule and try a body scan to relax.
Rest and recovery are essential to our well-being and expand our capacity for sustainable high-performance. The emotional intelligence competencies of self-awareness and self-management are critical to discerning when you need rest, and having the mental courage to press pause.
Text by Search Inside Yourself
When you show up for yourself in your life, the universe will show up for you. The way we walk into a room says a lot about the way we live our lives. When we walk into a room curious about what's happening, willing to engage, and perceiving ourselves as an active participant with something to offer, then we have really shown up to the party. When we walk into a room with our eyes down, or nervously smiling, we are holding ourselves back for one reason or another. We may be hurting inside and in need of healing, or we may lack the confidence required to really be present in the room. Still, just noticing that we're not really showing up, and having a vision of what it will look and feel like when we do, can give us the inspiration we need to recover ourselves. Even if we are suffering, we can show up to that experience ready to fully engage in it and learn what it has to offer. When we show up for our life, we are actively participating in being a happy person, achieving our goals, and generally living the life our soul really wants. If we need healing, we begin the process of seeking out those who can help us heal. If we need experience, we find the places and opportunities that can give us the experience we need in order to do the work we want to do in the world. Whatever we need, we look for it, and when we find it, we engage in the process of letting ourselves have it. When we do this kind of work, we become lively, confident, and passionate individuals. There is almost nothing better in the world than the feeling of showing up for our own lives. When we can do this, we become people that are more alive and who have the ability to make things happen in our lives and the lives of the people around us. We walk through the world with the knowledge that we have a lot to offer and the desire to share it.
Most humans are not born consciously knowing what their purpose is. It must be found through exploration. Most living things belong to a particular soul group and are born knowing their purpose in life. An animal will spend its day foraging for food, taking care of itself and its young, and creating a home. No one tells an animal to do this, yet it instinctively knows how. Humans, for the most part, are not born consciously knowing what their purpose is. Purpose gives our life meaning. When you discover your purpose, you can live your life with intention and make choices that serve your objective for why you are here on the planet. Finding your purpose is not always easy. You must embrace life wholeheartedly, explore many different pathways, and allow yourself to grow. Your purpose is as unique as you are and will evolve as you move through life. You don't need anyone's permission to fulfill your purpose, and no one can tell you what that purpose is. Finding and fulfilling your purpose can be a lifelong endeavor. To figure out what your purpose is, ask yourself what drives you -- not what forces you out of bed in the morning, but what makes you glad to be alive. Make a list of activities that you wish you were involved in or think about a career path that you would love to embark upon. These are the endeavors that can help you fulfill your purpose and bring you the most satisfaction. Picture yourself working on projects that don't interest you or fulfill your purpose, yet they help satisfy your basic survival needs. Imagine how living this way each day would make you feel. Next, picture yourself devoting your time to projects that spark your imagination, inspire, excite, and satisfy you. More often than not, these activities are some of the ways that you can fulfill your life purpose. Time spent on these endeavors will never feel like a waste. Live your life with purpose, and you will feel significant and capable because every action you take and each choice you make will have meaning to it. Text from Daily Om
Sitting with our sadness takes the courage to believe that we can bear the pain and we will come out the other side. The last thing most of us want to hear or think about when we are dealing with profound feelings of sadness is that deep learning can be found in this place. In the midst of our pain, we often feel picked on by life, or overwhelmed by the enormity of some loss, or simply too exhausted to try and examine the situation. We may feel far too disappointed and angry to look for anything resembling a bright side to our suffering. Still, somewhere in our hearts, we know that we will eventually emerge from the depths into the light of greater awareness. Remembering this truth, no matter how elusive it seems, can help. The other thing we often would rather not hear when we are dealing with intense sadness is that the only way out of it is through it. Sitting with our sadness takes the courage to believe that we can bear the pain and the faith that we will come out the other side. With courage, we can allow ourselves to cycle through the grieving process with full inner permission to experience it. This is a powerful teaching that sadness has to offer us -- the ability to surrender and the acceptance of change go hand in hand. Another teaching of sadness is compassion for others who are in pain, because it is only in feeling our own pain that we can really understand and allow for someone else's. Sadness is something we all go through, and we all learn from it and are deepened by its presence in our lives. While our own individual experiences of sadness carry with them unique lessons, the implications of what we learn are universal. The wisdom we gain from going through the process of feeling loss, heartbreak, or deep disappointment gives us access to the heart of humanity. Text by Daily Om
Do you remember when the standard answer to ‘how are you doing?’ was “So crazy busy!” Seldom did anyone follow up with, ‘So, what exactly is keeping you busy?’ Back in 2019 simply saying you were busy was enough. It sent off a signal that you were in demand and doing well. Because free-time was, well, free (i.e. unpaid), no one wanted it. In fact, the less free time you said you had, the more successful you appeared.
But then the pandemic hit, and something shifted, at least for those lucky enough to have enjoyed the flexibility of working from home. Almost overnight, being seen to be busy was no longer the measure of success it once was. And, far from being worthless, unpaid free time for ourselves and those we care about became seen by many as more precious than status or money.
The true value of free time
A recent Microsoft survey of more than 30,000 global workers showed that 41% were considering quitting or changing professions this year. Overwhelmingly they say they’re looking for more flexibility. Most want a hybrid model of working, where they split their time between an office and a remote location. 68% of workers believe this balance is the “ideal” workplace model.
Something about the pandemic made people realize that every unnecessary virtual meeting was eating away from the time they could otherwise have been spending doing something they actually enjoyed. Purely virtual interaction shone a spotlight on under-performers who try their hardest to project the illusion they are incredibly busy.
Of course, the same was true before the days of working from home, it’s just that when you’re at the office, you can’t slip away for two hours to practice the guitar or tend to your garden. With our office in the living room, however, it becomes much clearer that all this busyness is making us less productive, and is keeping us away from people and projects we’d like to spend time with.
Being busy wasn’t always the badge of honor it came to be. Even in the USA, with its strong work ethic, only 100 years ago having a lot of leisure time conferred status. In his 1899 book The Theory of the Leisure Class, the American economist Thorstein Veblen concluded the richer you were, the less work you’d have to do and the best way to signal your status was by boasting how much free time you had.
In my experience, the more in-demand someone is, the less they feel the need to project how busy they are. Highly successful people frequently give the impression that they have all the time in the world. Likewise, artists, entrepreneurs, or tech wizards may choose to fill every waking second in the pursuit of their dreams, but they won’t brag about how busy they are. In fact, they often pretend to have more ‘play time’ than they do.
Instead of seeming busy, why not make it clear that you are present, ready, and available?
People who love what they do understand that advertising how busy they are will ikely deter people from giving them more responsibilities or including them in new projects.
Only this week, a friend asked me if I was busy. I knew what they meant, of course. They meant is your life full and fruitful. But that word, busy, triggered me. You see, I value NOT being busy. I value having enough time for everything and everyone that’s important to me. So, instead of pretending to be busy, I told my friend I was trying my hardest to make sure I am never too busy.
And, there is a secret to being productive but not busy.
It may seem very obvious, but just say NO. Decline attendance at meetings where your presence is not essential. Turn down assignments that could better be executed by others. Politely refuse invitations that don’t serve you. Refer clients who are not your ideal client to other professionals. I do this all the time and it leaves me the space I need to properly serve the projects and the clients who were made for me.
Likewise, your inbox is mostly full of other people’s ‘to-do’ lists. Some requests you may feel compelled to answer. Delete the rest.
The average human life span in the developed world is 83.5 years or 1000 months. We each get the possibility of 1000 months, or 4,000 weeks, at birth and count down from there. On our deathbed, one of the most common regrets is “I wish I’d spent less time at work and more time with the people I loved.”
I can think of no better metric for success than being present and available. When someone tells me they have all the time they want for their heart’s deepest desires, I know they have attained a level of awareness and personal success which frantically busy people cannot even dream of.
Text by Remy Blumenfeld
Self-acceptance is essential to self-care and our overall well-being. If we can’t accept ourselves, our well-being is going to suffer, regardless of how diligent we are about any other physical and mental health practices.
Still, even with all the progress we’ve made in recent years on body positivity and mental health, the radical act of accepting ourselves for who we are has never been more challenging. Our society surrounds us with images of what supposedly healthy and perfect bodies look like. And of course, much of that is fueled by social media, which, in study after study, has been shown to damage our body image and self-acceptance. So how can we learn to accept ourselves and show up for ourselves in a way that nurtures our well-being?
Let me introduce Rebekah Taussig and her new book Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body, in which she chronicles her journey to self-acceptance with her trademark candor, humor, vulnerability, and authenticity.
Rebekah has been disabled since she was 3, and got her first wheelchair at age 6. She had a fairly normal childhood, with her “resilience and scrappiness” keeping her from realizing how differently she was experiencing the world. When she got to graduate school, discovering disability studies gave her a way to begin to understand herself. “It felt like the physics of the universe were transforming in real time,” she told me. “It just changed everything for me about how I saw myself and my story and gave me language to explain things I’d never been able to express before.”
But as Rebekah came to see the strength in her scrappiness, she also felt a sense of loss. “I ended up absorbing a lot of shame in the things that made me different, and I was trying very hard to minimize and mask and erase those in intangible and abstract ways,” she said. Part of that involved always cropping photos to hide her wheelchair or her paralyzed legs. But then she went online and connected with others who looked like her, which she describes as a “second wave of transformation.”
Gradually, she came to realize that she could be both scrappy and disabled, strong and paralyzed. “It took me a long time to be able to be all of that at once and it was important,” she said. “It’s important to be able to be all of me.” Instead of cropping her photos, she began including her legs. “I wanted there to be more beautiful images that included bodies like that out in the world,” she said. “I feel like my brain was responding differently to the image of my body.”
It’s such a great lesson for all of us: to be able to be — and accept — all of ourselves at once. We don’t all live with the challenges Rebekah does, but we all have to live in our bodies, which are always going to be changing over time. And, as she pointed out, our bodies have always been with us. “So much of it had to do with becoming more aware of the story of my body and thinking about my body over the span of my life and its presence in every single story that I’ve lived, and thinking about how my body has shown up for me,” she said.
So how can we learn to accept, appreciate, and love our bodies, which have always shown up for us in all of our stories? One way to start, said Rebekah, is by being more mindful and intentional about the body images we surround ourselves with, especially on social media. “I know what was huge for me was that I was able to filter the people on my feed and on social media, or even the things that I choose to watch.”
Her explanation of what resilience means to her comes from her own unique experience, but like so much of her writing, its lessons are universal. “When I think of the word resilience,” she said, “I think of buoyancy. I think of adaptability and flexibility — an ability or a willingness to continually reimagine. Adaptability is an obvious part of the experience of a person who lives in a body and in a world that is not made for the body they live in. You have to continually figure out how to interact with the world and how to show up, even when it’s not thinking of you.”
And that’s a lot easier to do when we accept ourselves and celebrate that we’re all perfectly imperfect.
Text by Jen Fishere
All the joy and passion you can envision can be yours right now, rather than in a future point in time. The time we are blessed with is limited and tends to be used up all too quickly. How we utilize that time is consequently one of the most important decisions we make. Yet it is far too easy to put off until tomorrow what we are dreaming of today. The hectic pace of modern existence affords us an easy out; we shelve our aspirations so we can cope more effectively with the challenges of the present, ostensibly to have more time and leisure to realize our purpose in the future. Or we tell ourselves that we will chase our dreams someday once we have accomplished other lesser goals. In truth, it is our fear that keeps us from seeking fulfillment in the here and now -- because we view failure as a possibility, our reasons for delaying our inevitable success seem sound and rational. If we ask ourselves what we are really waiting for, however, we discover that there is no truly compelling reason why we should put off the pursuit of the dreams that sustain us. When regarded as a question, "Why not now?" drains us of our power to realize our ambitions. We are so concerned with the notion that we are somehow undeserving of happiness that we cannot see that there is much we can do in the present to begin courting it. Yet when we look decisively at our existence and state, "Why not now, indeed!" we are empowered to begin changing our lives this very moment. We procrastinate for many reasons, from a perceived lack of time to a legitimate lack of self-belief, but the truth of the matter is that there is no time like the present and no time but the present. Whatever we aim to accomplish, we are closer when we seize the day and make the most of the resources we have at our disposal presently. And there is more out there (resources, events, people) waiting to be engaged, than we think. And when we proclaim and move forward, the universe conspires to make it happen. All the joy, passion, and contentment you can envision can be yours right now, rather than in some far-flung point in time. You need only remind yourself that there is nothing standing between you and fulfillment. If you decide that today is the day you will take your destiny into your hands, you will soon discover that you hold the keys of fate. Based on text by Daily Om