Go. Do. Be Productive. Get up earlier. Stay up later. Faster. Sooner. Better. Produce. Create. Measure. Fearless. Even fearsome. Unstoppable. Excel. Succeed. Win. Differentiate. Disrupt. Hustle.
As I get ready to head back to San Francisco next week, these are some of the words that have started popping into my head. They’re suddenly mingling with Montana words like quiet, calm, serene, peace, beautiful, awesome, shred, pow, wild, chill, relaxed, reflection, untouched, expansive, and my personal favorite: hot tub (kidding … sorta).
When I look at those two sets of words, the big thing I notice is that the SF list is more action-oriented, while the Montana list is more descriptive. Verbs versus adjectives (for the most part … everyone knows that hot tub is actually a verb).
This doesn’t surprise me. Like many cities, San Francisco is packed with a lot of really smart, ambitious, energetic, creative people. People who thrive in an environment that seems to pulse with the efforts of so many trying to do or be something special. I’m not saying that people like this don’t exist outside of San Francisco, but my experience has been that SF is the poster city for a special brand of hustle. It can be intoxicating and energizing or exhausting. Oftentimes both.
I’m a little conflicted about the dichotomy between these two worlds. I believe that both have their virtues, but it can be tough to find equilibrium.
I’ve been acutely aware of this as the winter and my sabbatical wind down, and so it was coincidental that I stumbled upon a three-hour workshop at a local Big Sky yoga studio titled “Strength to Surrender.” It was about exploring limits and boundaries via a strong physical practice, while trusting that even in the midst of high intensity, you can draw on your instincts, knowledge and abilities to trust and surrender.
In other words, a potential way to incorporate some Montana into my San Francisco, and vice versa. Yee-haw — sign me up.
Right off the bat, awesomely-inspiring instructor Becky Eschenroeder uttered this gem:
“We’re human beings, not human doings”
Love it. But wait. Fun wordplay aside, isn’t “being” just sitting around, observing the world instead of actively participating? Not exactly a recipe for success, IMO.
But via this workshop, I spent some time exploring why “being” and “doing” don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
I’m probably not the only one grappling with this, so thought I’d share a few of my aha’s:
- On finding your edge. When it comes to finding and dealing with your “edge,” either physically or mentally, it helps to really tune into your body and mind to objectively observe what you’re feeling. Instead of immediately reacting to discomfort, fear or uncertainty, try stepping back and just noticing — without judgement — what you’re feeling. Simply acknowledge it. And then decide what you’ll do with it. I find that when I do this, when I don’t judge my feelings or myself for having them, I’m most often able to move through the discomfort rather than be consumed by it. When I practice this on the mat, or on my runs, or in the sports that I do, it also becomes a tool I can use in other areas of my life, like at work, or in my relationships.
- On trusting your inner guide. When you observe and acknowledge what you’re feeling, you can more easily connect with your inner guide … the intuition that’s a mix of your experiences, instincts, beliefs, logic and abilities. This is different than a simple “gut feeling,” which I find is usually driven by high emotions and reactions, and oftentimes misleading. Your inner guide is one that you can trust, because it’s the best, most authentic representation of you. If you figure out how to really tune into it, it will tell you when to push forward, pause or stop.
- On what it means to “surrender.” I always thought of surrendering as “giving up” but my aha was reframing it as opening myself to possibility by not holding onto the reigns so tightly. This isn’t about letting go completely and leaving things to fate, but rather just loosening your grip. Over the years in yoga, I’ve learned that the turning point in a pose is often when you stop trying to force it and instead just relax and breathe into it. You’re engaged and invested, but not trying so hard to control the outcome. I’m finding this applies to a lot of things in life.
I’m so glad that I attended this workshop — it was a great reminder that being and doing don’t have to exist separately, that they can coexist and actually fuel each other. And so it will be when I get back to SF.