One of the things that hits you when you come to live in Western society is that saying ‘I’m busy’ is something people expect you to say if you’re a working professional. It almost raises your social status.
Some of you know my work experience and that I’ve been in a corporate financial world for some time. Just like a lot of others coming to London I wanted to find a good job somewhere, where I can use my experience and skills, learn something new, improve my English and get a decent payment for my work. I can’t actually say I found my first job in the City, because I guess I’ve been always lucky to get a job without looking for it. Opportunities were always coming to me and I was just saying ‘yes’ each time. And so I got the job in Investment Banking sector. I’m old enough to remember reality from the other side of the Iron Curtain so I appreciate the easiness of living in West. With a job like this I felt like a queen ? For a while…..
I remember when I jumped on this crazy train, I thought I could handle everything. I saw how different environment it was to what I was used to, but at the same time I knew that I’m not like most people around me. I wasn’t partying, drinking, socialising, even eating out, as I’ve been always trying to prepare my own meals. Weird, right? I was doing fine being me in this new environment and simply working hard.
The funny thing is that being aware of something doesn’t mean it won’t affect you. It will… maybe not straight away, but little by little, step by step. An example? What strikes you first when you’re in the City in rush hours is the pace people move in. After some time you get used to it and then some time later you start running just like others. It’s not a choice, not happening from one day to another, it’s a process that happens almost somewhere in the background of what you’re busy doing.
So things that were strange to you originally, start slowly sinking in, all the busyness, necessity of being busy, necessity to rush (you don’t want to be a looser and left behind, do you?), the amount of work that’s never ending no matter how many hours you’d spend in the office, omnipresent stress keeping everyone in the rhythm of work and finally after the credit crunch in 2008 the fear of loosing our jobs.
When I encourage my students in the yoga class to try re-connecting with our body, tuning into it and really learning to listen to it, it is because we tend to ignore what our body is telling us. Even the pain is not stopping us, we just take the painkiller and….. continue being busy. I definitely wasn’t fully connected with my body and only medical test results and visits in the hospital made me stop, analyse my situation and realise what was happening. My body was telling me that I wasn’t coping with the situation very well. But most importantly what it was showing me is that the life I had wasn’t making me happy, it was a comfortable life, but at some point lost its taste, colours and intensity. And it wasn’t making me a better person. Two main emotions that took over were fear and anger, skilfully hidden so nothing was showing outside.
I’m not trying to demonize the places I’ve been working at or people I’ve been working with. We are all trying to live a happy life as best as we can, each in our own, very individual way. When I look back now I appreciate my experience because I know that if it wasn’t for this experience, my first yoga classes probably wouldn’t have such a profound effect on me. I believe that everything happens for a reason and I guess I needed to try to realise this is not how I want to live.
So I changed my life. But it didn’t change overnight, at least not in my mind…. it wasn’t the end of the story with being busy. When everyone left early in the morning to go to work, I stayed at home and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was so used to the fast pace, fixed rhythm and ‘doing as much as you can’, that I felt guilty being un-busy! In our modern world it’s almost equal to being unproductive. Luckily I have yoga and time to observe and learn, self-study and tune into myself again. And I’m so grateful for this wisdom. I don’t feel guilty any more, I feel privileged to be able to practise yoga and share my experience and yoga knowledge with other people. We all so, so need to relax and start listening to our inner self, our true self.
Of course you may relate to my experience, you may not. But I think we all get into the dark place at some point in our lives and by simply more conscious breathing and being in our body we can help ourselves. Isn’t it great?
I’m still going through a detox time, but I already feel I can breathe more freely, have more space and strength in my body and most importantly learn everyday how to calm and control my busy mind.
And maybe one day I’ll start dreaming of flying again ?
Don’t let anyone convince you that you have to be busy to be successful in your life. The successful life is a happy life. If you need a break and feel you’re loosing control, stop and allow yourself to relax and let go of anything that’s simply not serving you.