14 Sep Corporate Job Flashback
Everyone has their own reasons for practicing yoga. Some people do it to feel more spacious in their bodies, others because it helps them relax, some because it’s the only time they take to themselves in the week.
I think many people can agree that part of the reason they make the time to do their yoga is because it makes them feel better.
Which makes total sense.
Yoga is meant as a medicine of sorts. A lifestyle medicine. A way to achieve balance amidst the constant change of life. The tools of the practice are vast, and modern teachers and practitioners often draw from other traditions both old and new to supplement their practice with what they find most interesting and beneficial.
Your goal can be whatever you like it to be, but try this on for size.
What if the goal of your yoga and wellness practice was to first feel better in your own life so that you could then be of service to others?
Imagine feeling healthy and content in your body and your mind. Imagine feeling connected to your truest self with the best version of yourself in charge, at least most of the time.
Now imagine that you could help others doing exactly what it is you most love to do. This might already be the case for you. If it is, isn’t it wonderful?
Personal story time!
I once had a job at Intel in corporate finance and risk analysis. I really didn’t like doing this kind of work. Spreadsheets are fun and all, but making million dollar money decisions that didn’t necessarily tie to my value system didn’t bring me any joy.
During the three years I had this job, I was actually really bad off. My mental health was in the toilet. I was drinking a lot because that was how I knew to blow off steam.
Really, I just hated my job and tried to ignore it because the alternative (quitting) was nearly impossible to imagine without having an anxiety attack.
I got to a breaking point, and knew that my only way out of that misery was to do the thing I was most afraid of: quit.
I didn’t know what was next, I just knew that I had become a hollow version of myself. I realized this because a mentor of mine who got to know me during the worst of it looked at me honestly one day and said “you’re toxic.”
“No I’m not. I’m bubbly!” I said, and then started to quietly cry. We were in a glass-walled conference room at the time. We called these rooms the fishbowls. If you’ve ever been in one, you probably know it’s not the best place to have a good sob session.
Anyway, in that moment I discovered the contrast. She saw me as a toxic person. I knew that deep down I wasn’t toxic. I knew I’d always been known as a bubbly person (sometimes bordering on obnoxious, I must admit.)
I also knew she wasn’t lying to me and that she’d never say something like that to spite me, she had no skin in the game. She was reflecting what was true in her experience of me. And her willingness to be honest made me realize that I had to save what was left of me. I had to quit.
I’m a visual person and often have cartoon-like images in my head. I remember really clearly the particular image I had that day. It was like this…
I graduated college with a big heart and a million little Quinns hanging on to it like it was the best carnival ride on Earth. That day in the fishbowl, there was only one exhausted, scared, and weak little Quinn left holding on to my heart by her pinky finger.
The one was enough. I couldn’t lose her, too. I felt like if I did, that was it. I was gone. It was seriously a quarter-life crisis! It felt like life and death at the time. I think one’s livelihood often and understandably does.
In the following year, 2014, I started practicing yoga in earnest. Not just a studio class to work out every once in a while, but as a daily practice I turned to for a sense of safety and relief from my anxiety and uncertainty.
I mostly kept to myself that year and practiced yoga at home from stuff I learned in books, although I did have the support of a few key teachers and yoga friends along the way.
During this hermit year of mine, I left my home primarily for yoga teacher training. Later, I started teaching yoga and found myself incredibly engaged as a teacher.
Sharing the practice with others who found value in it gave me a lot of energy and joy. Yoga made me feel better, and it gave me a way to help other’s feel better, too.
I found myself again through my yoga practice. Then I found a way to be of service to others.
I’m not saying that everyone who does yoga winds up being a yoga teacher. That’s not the case for most people.
Over the years I’ve noticed that folks who become dedicated to their practice (whatever their wellness practice may be) do start to feel better. I’ve observed that people who stay in tune with their practice wind up doing a lot to help others, joyfully and without resentment.
Here’s the thing. I don’t help others by looking at their finances. I rarely help someone learn how to build a spreadsheet. Why? Because I don’t really like doing that! Sure, I can, but do I want to? No!
I’d much rather teach yoga. I really, really, reallyreallyreally like teaching yoga. So I do that to help people instead.
Remember way back at the beginning of this letter? What if the goal of yoga was to first help yourself feel better and after that, to step out into the world to help whatever or whomever you want in whatever ways you reallyreallyreally like?
This progression isn’t just my personal story, it’s embedded into the philosophy of yoga itself. Have you heard of dharma?
Woah, this is too long already. Maybe we can talk dharma next week. Please reach out if you want to be in touch before then!
Plus, there are a couple chances to get in on the good stuff this week for free online…either streaming or on your own time.
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