GOAL!!! : Meditating on Success

(c) C. De Souza/AFP/Getty Images

With extreme humility, yet a steadfast view that all things are relative, we’ll start with some really good news:  Spain wasn’t the only winner this month.  July marked the peak point of success for Higher Ground Yoga since its inception late last year, with the still-young start-up reaching its biggest number of clients so far — a jump of 130% from recent months.

As you might guess, it’s been AWESOME.  Awesome because it’s brilliant to be busy with a gig you love, awesome because it’s spectacular to spend time assisting fabulous women live healthier, happier lives, awesome because this is the kind of boom that entrepreneurs dream about on the daily.  There’s one secret, though, that helps me to fully savor every bit of the present moment: the for-sure fact that it may not last.


I’m talking about impermanence, people — the popular yogic (and Buddhist, among others) idea that everything goes away; thus, we should try to not get too attached to one particular result, but instead be open and curious about our experiences, “good” or “bad.”  The theory encourages us to be where we are or, more cleverly put, to “be present in the present.”  To me, impermanence is a one-word reminder to not ruminate over the past, not worry too much about the future, but instead hang out right here, right now… and eat that experience up.

Eating, actually, provides a good example.  See, smell, taste this: you’re about to sink your teeth into the hottest, cheesiest slice of pizza you’ve ever imagined.  Or the moistest, most decadent chocolate cake.  Or impeccably fresh-from-the sea sashimi.  Mid-way through a morsel, your brain stops experiencing and starts analyzing “this is so good, when will I have more? What if they don’t have this tomorrow? Where will I find something similar?”  Before you know it, you’re done and — because those sensory and analytical parts of the brain are different — maybe without even really savoring what you’ve just devoured.

Impermanence is also a wildly successful trick for dealing with highs and lows of the future.  My own business story illustrates: last November, I launched this relationship-based, new company in a new city, and it was a slow start.  February, especially, was a tough month!  Instead of getting stuck there, though, I sat with it, learned from it, went with it.  Remembered that change is one of the few constants we’ve got.  Thankfully, my business and personal instincts were accurate enough to keep me financially treading water and, eventually, business sped up to its current high.  Now, I could hold onto that high with a fearful vice grip, worrying about the consistency of future profits, but here’s something I’ve noticed over time: fear and worry take a lot out of you.  They make concentration harder, efficiency more unattainable, and fatigue a pretty regular state.

I’d rather devote my energy to experiencing instead of obsessing.

And that’s what I spend my time doing, motivated by every satisfied client, every good session, instead of by the fear that things might change.  Because of course they will.  For better or worse, richer or poorer.  Our lives consist of the long-term commitments we make to ourselves, and they are rarely static.  We relax more when we ride those waves without expending all our strength to resist them.  In other words, embracing impermanence helps us gain inner stability, which supports yoga postures and peaceful living, alike.

This month, play around with the idea of impermanence.  When something changes and leaves you off-center — whether it’s a major shift, or a change in today’s schedule — pay attention to your reaction, without judgment.  Use that deep yoga belly breath to activate your built-in, anti-stress mechanism: the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps the body rest and feel grounded.  Try to sit with whatever is changing in your life, big or small, and see it for what it is: one experience out of many.  Practice being in it, and letting it go, with grace (maybe even with gratitude!).  Remember that it’s all revolving, that “when one door…closes, another one opens” (Helen Keller).  Meditate on your successes, your shortcomings, and every single experience in between.


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