Often when I am teaching a kundalini meditation I will say the words “Stay with it!” Just as the I sense that students might be experiencing inner resistance or discomfort. They might be holding their arms up, and they begin to shake, or it might be getting difficult to hold the mantra in their mind amidst the rush of oncoming thoughts.
These moments are usually the threshold moments right before a big energetic release or shift takes place, and we know that if we just stay with it, the tension and stress will ultimately clear (because, as the great George Harrison said, ‘this too shall pass’).
And when it does pass, what matters is not the outcome of the meditation, or the result of our work, but how well we were able to return to our higher truth amidst the challenge.
In kundalini yoga we have this saying: “Keep up and you will be kept up.” It’s a simple and powerful idea which implies that when we do the work to help ourselves, the universe will carry us.
I admit, this idiom hasn’t always sat so well with me.
When I’m going through challenging periods in my life, sometimes my response to “keep up and you will be kept up” has been: “but what if keeping up is whats making me unwell, don’t I need to rest, let myself totally surrender and heal right now? Don’t I need a break?” And the answer to that is, sometimes, a resounding yes.
Keeping up is not about keeping up with somebody else’s standards and expectations. It’s not even about keeping up with your own self imposed expectations.
Keeping keeping up is about what you know in your heart is the right thing. Its about remembering and living by your values. Its about listening to the intuitive knowing of what your path/work/practice/creative process is.
And it usually doesn’t look like a specifically defined task. It’s an energy. And if we get really honest with ourselves, (It’s okay, nobody else can see inside your head, its just you who knows), you can always tell when you are living in alignment with your hearts truth and when you aren’t.
Its subtle. Its profound. You feel it: you’re either living a life of compassion and commitment to your Self and your dreams or you’re not.
It’s like swimming across a lake and getting caught in a fog; even though you know the exact direction to keep swimming to get to the other shore, a part of you is thinking, “actually, I think it would be better if I turned around and swam in another direction.”
I don’t like to use the word self sabotage, because it implies that we are consciously trying to hurt ourselves. The truth is we are trying to avoid risk. Growth is risky. Following our heart makes us vulnerable. But its the kind of vulnerability that keeps us alive, provides us with purpose and meaning.
The way to counter self-sabotage is not to force ourselves into tasks or practices that we are resistant to, its about getting real with our our fear of risk and asking the following questions:
Is this thing which is challenging me/this thing which I am avoiding in line with my hearts knowing? Is this the right thing?
If it is the right thing, what can I do right now, and in the future to remind myself of how important my hearts knowing and truth is?
It’s important to discern between the intensity of energy that happens before a breakthrough, and knowing when something really isn’t for us.
Life can be challenging and draining. Even when— sometimes especially when— we are following our hearts truth in the face of opposition or stress.
So be gentle with yourself. Set yourself daily reminders that help you remember your truth, your ‘Why’ in your workspace when you are working on a big project. Set aside time during your day to nourish yourself with simple things which remind you of the beauty of your heart and your values: lovingly prepare a healthy meal for your family, go for a run in nature, spend time contributing to somebody else’s wellbeing, listening or dance to your favorite music, do that crazy fun thing that nobody enjoys doing but you.
Simply put, by remembering and focusing more on what is true for you— in ALL areas of your life, not just the one in which you are experiencing resistance, will help to shift your perspective and motivation.
We are designed to be inspired by what gives us meaning. It’s our job to take action to keep living a meaningful life.