The Yoga of (heart-led) Business - 5 Ways to Stay in Flow
How do heart-led enterprises enjoy sustainable success? For those of us engaged in passionate, creative pursuits as a means of making a living, there is often a disparity between the value of our offering and the reward we are willing to receive for it. Finding our balance is key...
It is a familiar lament of the sole practitioner, the artist, the therapist, that they don't want to charge too much lest their services become unaffordable to those that need them; unless people think that they are "in it for the money".
The other trend I observe in these circles is a somewhat obstinate (or sheepish) refusal to grasp and firmly steer the ship of the business/livelihood, avoiding such horrors as cost analysis, marketing or sometimes even the most basic of admin or financial tasks that would give real clarity and direction were they paid even a little attention.
Of course, I can write about this now, having been a prolific offender in the past. Living your passion sometimes results in losing your head. (Who was it who said "Follow your heart but take your brain with you"?)
The metaphor of Yoga (or indeed any other mind-body practice with any clout) works well partly due to it's most fundamental meaning and purpose. Yoga means union, the two dualities merging, the balancing of opposites and it's original raison d'etre was for the removal of suffering. On a basic level - we carry out our work to alleviate suffering too, to bring more ease into our lives, by means of shelter, food and warmth and to then feel the subsequent fulfilment and joy of knowing ourselves, sharing our purpose and talents and making a difference in the world. The way that we balance all our qualities in yoga in order to experience equilibrium and peace (strength with softness, challenge with surrender, effort with reward) is relevant to all other facets of our experience.
Firstly, in a physical yoga practice with movement and breathwork, it is important to address our capabilities. We can only do this when we drop into our experience. Developing awareness of where we are now brings us into the present. When we are present we have more resources (our brains not being otherwise occupied in the past or future) we can tune into what feels right, right now. This type of intuition can be honed, it takes discipline and practice to maintain this level of focus and when we do, we step into what Csikszentmihalyi famously called being "in flow". The state where we automatically know what to do, when to do it and how - complete attunement with what is. Being prepared to look honestly at our business without justification, excuses or criticism enables the necessary actions or adjustments to come to light naturally in just the same way as the body will speak its wisdom to us if we become still enough to listen. There are always clues and directions if we notice.
The drishti or gaze in yoga is the point we look towards in order that our intent and energy be focussed in that direction. The very nature of creativity is that of infinite possibility and can therefore result in a scattering of our energies here and there as we come up with idea after idea, none of them reaching fruition. Directing our energies WITH the flow is key to fluid movement. Moving from muscular strength only it is possible to be strong and even flexible but to have grace requires flow, the equivalent of moving with the breath, being led into place. Intuit that which moves you most, go towards it. The more we align with this subtle energy rather than working against it, the less effort and discomfort we experience.
Consistent thought and action (Practice)
The continuation of dropping into awareness and intending from this space is what constitutes practice. All the training courses in the world could not bring one tenth of the clarity, drive and skill that this brings. I'm reminded of the old riddle of how to get clean water out of muddy water without any filters or tools - of course, you must let the water be still and then all the mud will sink to the bottom. Stilling the mind on a daily basis has not retained importance over thousands of years for nothing. It is practised in some form by many of the world's most successful people (Richard Branson, Tony Robbins et al) and is being studied in CAT scanners and fMRI machines all over America so that people who love evidence-based research can finally accept what yogis and medicine men have known for millenia - we are so much more than our minds but our beings and our bodies are influenced by them to a phenomenal extent.
In conclusion, I want to leave you with 5 things to consider, maybe even write down and leave at your work space. These are not trite tips about keeping an empty Inbox or taking regular breaks from your screen - neither of which are bad ideas - but they are to help us keep close the essence of living our one true life, the passion that drives us as creators and to remind us to stay in tune with that always.
1. Tell the story the way you wish it to be.
Do not waste breath and time on complaining, justifying or rehashing scenarios that are anything less than what you want. The more you present history in this present moment (by thinking anf speaking about it) the less room you have for being present and the more likely you are to create replicas of that past reality. The frequency we are on determines what we attract. Act accordingly.
2. Surround yourself with supporters
Not Yes-Men or Women - people who are switched on, people who will call you out on your own unhelpful habits, people who will stand with you and help you be the best you can be. Be a supporter too, let's help each other thrive and blossom.
3. Spend time every day tuning in to your intuition.
Developing your innate knowing is invaluable in navigating your own path. Taking time at the start of each day for quietness, meditation, yoga, head-emptying via a journal followed by stillness - whatever works for you, this is what will set the tone for the next few hours. Be deliberate in your choosing - intend the state in which you wish to greet life and thus for it to greet you.
4. Trust the path
Trusting the path and trusting yourself sometimes feel different but I think are essentially the same thing. Notice all the times you have ever been challenged and come through, all the lessons learned, all the hard times you didn't think you'd pull through but did - take stock and a deep breath in, inflate yourself with self-belief, exhale a sigh of gratitude and stay self-assured but humble, ready for the next leg of the journey.
5. Keep Going
Consistency. Practice. We are human, fallible, fickle and capricious - beautiful and complex because of it. If you can keep coming back to the awareness of who you are - your true nature, and maintain the focus and determination to tell the true story of you to the world then that is real success by anyone's definition.