Staying motivated is an issue for many. If you feel like you are the only one feeling lazy and not reaching all goals you set – good news for you! We all sometimes feel this way.
How to stay motivated
The global settings we encounter right now are special and new circumstances for many of us. Maybe you feel afraid of losing your job or afraid of getting sick. How can we all deal with those issues? First of all, I´d like to reflect on the words “feeling afraid/worried/fear”. In my opinion, we use that way too much! For me being afraid is a common construct used in many conversations. “I´m afraid it's going to rain later” – but are you really afraid? Is there high blood pressure? Might the rain damage you? After all, the real fear we might notice within us is a real feeling- which honestly and luckily, I experience maybe twice a year. We believe we feel it and use those negative words whereas many times those are not exact. So first of all, I´d love for you to reflect on how often do you use “I feel afraid/worried, etc. – and if in this situation used you actually experience this feeling of anxiety. A first step is often to realize that “fear” is a product made out of our mind but not real! We might change our perspective realizing that a lot of times this fear isn’t real but a creation of ourselves! It is similar to the differentiation made from pain and suffering. Pain is a real feeling within our bodies. It is there and we can notice it whereas suffering is mainly made out of our thoughts and worries.
So secondly – once you understand that fear might not be real – I invite you to look further into your thoughts that cause you this effect on anxiety, maybe even hopelessness which might lead to lack of motivation. What do you think might occur to you? And what is the worst to happen?
I am well aware that those times of social distancing and isolation are hard. But it is also a chance to reflect and get to know oneself a bit better. Take this extra time you might have and start writing down ideas. Maybe sit down once a day and try to express your feeling. Where does it sit? How intense do you feel it and what images are associated with this image?
For me, this whole happening, the world on “pause” is new but not frightening. Of course, it is horrible that people are dying and the economy (and especially full-time yoga teachers like myself) are having a hard time. No doubt about that. But there is also this chance! The chance for people to reconnect. To their partners and kids, spending way more time together than usual. A chance to confront what we call fears or our shadows and work in that. And grow. Nature gets to heal and when I heard that dolphins are coming back to our coasts, I felt so happy! When I am in my garden, instead of hearing the noise of airplanes, I get to listen just to the birds. The whole world feels more quiet, peaceful and I highly appreciate this.
This new situation affecting the whole world gives us all a chance to grow and heal. Being of such an impact and happening to the whole planet, we are all more than ever connected. There are sadness and darkness, there will always be light! We just need to look for it!
I once had a yin yoga teacher in Thailand who made this simple comparison between a graph and our life. Imagine a functional graph with x and y as we know it from our math class. When we are born, we start at 0 and while we are growing up in time, we learn. At some point we will encounter a problem, a bad situation and eventually our line of life will lower down a bit. The good thing is that if we learn from this situation, we will never fall so deep like the one time before. This is the important idea here: with everything “bad” to happen to us we encounter a situation to arise and inner growth! Having this in mind we don’t have to judge difficult situations as bad but to see in them a chance for our personal development.
Once we have all these ideas clear and don’t let fear stop ourselves, the next thing I want you to think about is what drives you. When we talk about motivation I think it is pretty important why we want to do something. If we take our yoga practice for example and now have much more free time to do your yoga but you notice a lack of motivation, reflect on why you practice. Once you have this idea clear, you might want to reformulate the things you thought you want to do or delete them from your to-do list. If we do something with reasons from our head, thoughts like “I have to be healthy”, “doing yoga is hip and cool”, “society expects me to do sports, etc.” I believe it's much harder to stick with it. If we do something because we feel it, it makes us happy, relaxed, etc. – why wouldn’t we want to repeat this pleasurable experience? This is one of the yoga practice secrets – the body and minds feel the positive effect it has on us so we stick to the practice. Maybe one of those days you don’t feel like your strong ashtanga practice. Fair enough! Don’t be too rigid and adapt to your needs! Do some yin or just move your body as it feels like for that day. Start with some sun salutes with no pressure to do a full practice. Once you are on your mat, flow with what comes up, and usually its much more then we expected before. Often the hardest part on those lazy days is to roll out our mat and step on it. Once we start the practice and honor the needs of our body on that specific day, the practice becomes beautiful and respectful to our body.
As long as our graph of life grows up – personal enrollment won´t stop. Every bad situation we master is a great chance to grow and learn.
My personal experience and how I got through the worst time of my life
My personal story could be quite a bad one but I got out of it quite balanced – so I want to share my personal experience of these past two months with you. A month before COVID went viral I got quite sick, I tried to ignore it and kept teaching as I depend on my income. If I don’t teach, I don’t get paid. So, for me quitting a class is something I don’t like to do. Unfortunately, my health got worse, and I got to the point where my energy was so low, I had to take steps and started to cancel some classes. The same day I tried to contact my mum and couldn’t reach her all day – which is something that never happens and as we have a strong connection, I knew that something isn’t right. When I finally talked to my dad I found out that she had several heart attacks which no one recognized due to the fact that she felt them as back pain! The last one was so bad, she couldn’t bear it anymore and went to the doctor and immediately got into the hospital where she got operated several times. The worst weeks were to follow. The operations went well but due to her low circulation before it wasn’t clear if she would make it. For more than two weeks she was in an induced coma, having her heart and lung moved a machine. Those of you who had to live such a horrible situation, know how it feels not to know if your loved one can make it is the worst to happen. In all this, my health was still suffering and days after she got increased into the hospital, the isolation and social distancing started. With the effect that no friend would come over to comfort me or hug me. The only person I saw every day was my dad which at first isolated himself even more but little by little we grow together and helped each other, working in each other’s garden or cooking for one another. I never spend so much time with him in my whole 35 years of life as I did in those past months! Of course, it is so terrible what my mum is going through. Losing her being my mum and also best friend would have been impossible. Not being able to share my existential fears with her during this crisis right now wasn’t easy but I somehow made it through it. The last weeks were and on and off. One day we got good news, next she had inner bleedings. Then it got stopped and we were so happy and the day after a wound got infected and she was with high fever… due to COVID, I wasn’t able to visit her as much as I would want to. For the time being, I can only see her one hour every two weeks. Seeing her so weak and not being there for her, broke my heart. Little by little she got better, my health got balanced and I managed to get support from my friends. Not in a physical way but by speaking on the phone and knowing that there are people who care. People who think about my mum and sending her love and energy from everywhere. She is still in bad shape, but she is getting better every day, learning to move her legs and to speak again. It has been a long way and there were days I almost lost hope. But then I reminded myself to be strong. To not doubt that everything is going to be ok. That she only can fight and get through it if we believe in it. To take the time for me to heal, physically and mentally, and to embrace the newly created relationship with my dad. The free time I got unexpectedly for not being able to work due to corona gave me the chance to work on myself and all those upcoming unexpected events. My whole existence fell apart from one day to another. Was it too much at once? Maybe? Did I give up? No, this was never an option. I tried to give it time, take one thing after another and my priority was the well-being of my mum, then my health so I could be there for her, my dad, and her family and friends. Having lost all my business is bad, I adapted to online classes but this isn’t anything compared to my usual income. But I trust that everything is going to be ok. That the universal energy will guide me out of this situation and will give me a chance to get everything back on track. I spend more time in my garden, walked my dog, and adapted my yoga practice. I listened. To my body and my needs and I hadn’t had such a great practice in a long time. Less rigid and strong but doing what my body needed. Regaining strength and a softer attitude. I truly believe I would have broken in those past months if it hadn’t been for my practice. All the practices I did, all the philosophy I studied and all the breathing I did. I somehow managed to sleep at night, I somehow managed to eat and I somehow managed to be grateful for those little daily things. The reflection of sunlight, a beautiful flower, or a rainbow. Our body and mind are capable of much more than we are aware of as long as we stay connected to ourselves. So even if we lose our balance for a moment we know how to reconnect. It's important to feel. To feel sadness and of course, there were days I cried and I knew that this was ok. I would let my thoughts and fears get the power but stay connected to my heart. And trust. I knew that even though this was the hardest time I ever had to experience with so many terrible things happening at once, I made it through it. And knowing this gives me the power to confront whatever will show up. And this is such a valuable lecture. We are strong. And we can do whatever we want if we don’t let our fear get into our ways. Follow your heart and you will be on your path. Once you are on it, trust and the energy of this cosmos might bring you wonders.
So, resuming what keeps me motivated is knowing that I am on my path. Through yoga, I can do good and help people. Teaching I was able to plant little ideas. Once the student started to cultivate those they grew and made them into a stronger and more confident person who took more care of themselves. Knowing that if I stay within my power, I can motivate others, even in those times where I went through so much, I still felt capable of comforting others. I didn’t expect me to be strong. And giving me the space to be vulnerable and accepting that those were bad circumstances actually helped and released strength. There is no denying that all this has been an experience I wouldn’t want to sign up for – but as it happened and I couldn’t change it, I had to accept and make the best of it. Taking time to write again. To be with myself and focus on my inner healing.
I hope that those words encouraged you. Take some time for inner reflection and be open to what comes up. Once you know what you want, not from your head, but from your heart – motivation won’t be an issue. Let the energy run through you, reconnect with your being as being part of it all and try to always make the best of everything, let your inner light shine!