Turning an Inner Spark Into a Bonfire

At some point relatively recently, I realized I’m probably never going to be famous. At first, this was disappointing; a small part of me has always wanted to do something so awesome for the world that I’d end up with a memoir or a magazine cover. Maybe a library would be named after me! Maybe I’d start an institute! But recently, I’ve realized a) statistically speaking, this is probably not going to happen; b) it’s certainly not going to happen just because I want it to; and c) it’s actually quite liberating to let go of that expectation. 

I’ve been intermittently blogging for over 5 years. I’ve gone back and forth between wanting to fully commit, like so many of my favorite bloggers that I follow, and wanting to allow it to be a hobby that I engage in when the mood strikes. At some point I realized that my level of commitment to blogging was likely not going to net me a book deal or sponsors or invitations to conferences and I had a “what’s the point?” moment. I finally got to the very philosophically complex answer that I do it because I enjoy writing; and writing for a blog specifically helps me edit and choose words carefully, rather than the stream of consciousness that are often present when I journal. And when I cease to make blogging a regular part of my life, it doesn’t happen. The mood doesn’t strike, or it does, but I’m out of practice and I feel like my post will be terrible so I do something else instead. Hobbies require practice, too. 

All of this has led me to reflect on habits – both building them and how they can fall away. What surprises me most, sometimes, is how habits that feel fundamental can also slip away from us. Over the winter months, my healthy eating habits slipped a lot more than I would have expected. My running habit is proving to be a struggle to rebuild. My commitment to my budget has fallen to the wayside. 

I’ve known for a little while that I wanted to take some action to get back into the groove where I feel like my healthiest and best self. But there have been a lot of “I’ll start tomorrows” happening. In part, I’m glad to be taking careful time to consider what is valuable to me because I don’t want to get caught up putting energy into certain behavior because I feel like I “should” or because everyone else is doing it. But on the other hand, change happens in action, not in reflection, and it’s time to move forward. 

I’m reading Yoga & Ayurveda: Self-Healing and Self-Realization by David Frawley, and last night I was reading about tejas. In Ayurvedic theory, tejas is our inner radiance, the subtle energy of our inner fire. Tejas is linked to our digestion, courage, and clarity. I interpreted the passages on tejas to indicate that it helps us move toward action, both internally and externally. The practices used to develop tejas include silence, concentration and meditation, mantra, and self inquiry. Aside from whether you believe in the theories of Ayurveda and yoga, it makes logical sense to me that these practices would help increase focus so we can better correct our energies. The silence directive is particularly focused on not engaging in gossip or negative thinking, which I have definitely experienced as depleting. Concentration, meditation and mantra all require focus, which is vital toward accomplishment in any area of life. And lastly, self inquiry give us an opportunity to reflect on our actions and thoughts and ensure that we are engaging in those that build us up rather than tear us down. 

My biggest takeaway from the section on tejas is that these practices are habits that need to be built – hence the term “practice.” I know some people have an innate focus, but I don’t think I’m the only one that is prone to distraction and laziness and the “just one more episode” phenomenon. There are so many great blogs out there about building habits (two of my favorites are Zen Habits and Nerd Fitness), but I always thought to myself “that’s not for me – I’m great at building habits!”

Both my ego and my perfectionism have been the enemy of activity in the last year or so; I haven’t sought help or resources both because my ego said I didn’t need them, and my perfectionism told me that if I did need them, then what was the point? I should find something else to do. It turns out, it’s really easy to get good at watching TV or scrolling through Twitter or going on walks. Now, I’m ready for a challenge. I’m ready to fail and to start over. I’m ready to pay closer attention to the words that come out of my mouth and the thoughts that go through my head. I’m ready to accept that even if this path doesn’t lead to something extravagant, it’s worth it for all the things I can see along the way. 

 

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