Shortly after I moved to New York City I stood on the subway platform in awe of the many seemingly important people in a rush to get somewhere. Everyone looked focused, put together, on an accelerated path to high levels of professional accomplishment. I felt intimidated.
I had no idea what I was doing in New York. I moved here after travelling around the world, a period in my life when I lived out of a backpack for six months and surrendered completely to the guidance of my intuition. I stayed in places for as long as I felt needed, moving onto somewhere new when I felt ready. The juxtaposition of the backpacker’s life in South East Asia, and the rush hour platform of the L-train highlighted the radical difference between my life prior to my decision to live in one of America’s most competitive, expensive, cities and my current experience. My travel included encountering and submersing myself in many contradictory realities, so it made sense that I felt out of place yet again.
It didn’t take me very long though to get the hang of New York. Within a few months my life transformed from the challenges of travelling in countries where I did not speak the native language while having to navigate the nuances of foreign culture, to the typical professional American lifestyle of slurping coffee and wearing clothes I’d have rather stayed in my closet as I battled for a place on the uptown train to arrive at work on time. The momentum of New York swept me.
I joined the masses, chasing success like never before, living in a daily blur. Each day collided into the next, as the manic race to get “there” – the next paycheck, the next meeting, the next weekend, the next moment of relief – took over my life. I immersed myself in a culture of people living faster and faster than ever before while simultaneously riddled with fear that I was drastically behind.
Fortunately, I had my spiritual practices – I meditated, I practiced yoga, I honored the phases of the moon, all which served as mini respites as I succumbed to escalating professional pressure to produce results.
In these moments, I had the chance to meet myself again, learning that when I pushed myself hard and neglected to stop, I lost the ability to feel myself. I became numb. When I moved so quickly that all I could think about is what I needed to do next, l surrendered my ability to connect with myself on a deeper level all together, sacrificing the valuable information needed to effectively reach my goal.
The pressure of a deadline or the just the challenge of accomplishing insane amounts of work provides adrenaline, which at times can very well feel like purpose. But when we mistake adrenaline with purpose it comes with a high price. Basic relaxation is postponed, adequate nutrition is postponed, sex is postponed as the denial for any sort of a respite falls to the wayside in the heightened fiend for accomplishment, recognition, validation, or worth.
When we are constantly on the go, interchanging adrenaline for purpose, we not only compromise the intricate nature of our endocrine system, we wander away from ourselves. When we exchange adrenaline for purpose we sacrifice presence and elude a deeper connection with ourselves in the process. Without presence we lose access to our full sense of intelligence and peak performance ranges, which not only affect our results, but also our experience of doing what it takes to obtain results. This loss of connection bolsters the need to work harder, to constantly push to get things done, and to stay in sacrifice. It’s a cycle.
Often when we refuse to stop we rely on frenetic momentum to hold us together. We think we will stop later, when we have more time, after we’ve caught up or accomplished our goal. And often we only listen to our need to stop when we are forced to stop.
The RHYTHM of success requires staying in an intimate conversation with our body. This means taking a break from the constant going, and having a chance to reset, a chance to locate your internal guidance systems, catch up with on your own news, and feel through the entire journey of life, not just the hopeful happy ending.
True success requires having a genuine relationship with our self. Stopping gives us the chance to develop that relationship.
“Success is not about driving your self harder it’s about letting go of what blocks the heart.” Robert Holden
Today I challenge you to create some space in your calendar and heart to have an intimate conversation with yourself. Consider how often you allow yourself to take a break and check in with on a deep level. If it’s been a while ask yourself what’s stopping you? What are you afraid will happen if you stop? Will you fall apart? And what would happen if you did? Stopping is a chance to listen to what you really need – to not abandon your self. Inherent in this process rests one of the most vital secrets to real success.