Trusting Your Intuition - when is it time to let go?
Two weeks ago, I stood on the bridge spanning the Thames from Embankment station to Southbank, one of my favourite spots in London. My mind was turning and turning with conversations I’d had in the week prior with my boyfriend and a work colleague who had both noticed a change in me and were, I guess, a little concerned. I was tired and lacklustre, a little down after an amazing summer of sunshine and hosting my first yoga retreats, and feeling somehow at the end of something. I felt stuck and frustrated, until I walked across that bridge.
I’d just spent the whole afternoon catching up with friend and fellow Ashtak Yoga Teacher, Chiara. We caught up on everything that had happened in our lives since we last saw each other in India last year. Over an insanely spicy Wagamama Firecracker (far too hot, never again) we covered love and yoga and travel and we laughed. So, so much. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been able to just sit and chat with no time restraints, no niggles in the back of my mind that I should be working or studying, or anything else. After hugging each other goodbye and drinking in the seemingly never-ending supply my Tesoro has, I decided to walk home, taking my favourite route of Charing Cross to Elephant and Castle via Southbank. And it was walking across that bridge when I came to realise just what my problem was.
Autumn is a time of change and transition - most of us see it as the leaves dazzle us with beautiful oranges and reds before dying. And a few of us can feel it. Autumn has always been like that for me - a time when I feel that my life needs a good shake-up, something different. As I walked across that bridge, I had to stop and stare at the London sky. Despite the freakishly warm weather, autumn was most definitely in the air and the clouds were darkening, almost blue under an otherwise clear sky. They looked like something from a renaissance painting and I felt really, incredibly blessed to be able to see it. And I don’t mean that in a ‘hyper-spiritual-never-ending-gratitude’ kind of way. It was just one of those moments when I really realised what it meant to be alive.
To look at the sky and appreciate it being there, for having the eyes to see, the heart to feel. And while I was doing this, everyone else was rushing around me, racing to get home from work, seemingly oblivious to it all. And that’s when I realised - the life I’m living is not serving my higher purpose anymore. I don’t have the time to reconnect anymore so I can give to others. I remembered why I left my corporate job in the first place, the promise to myself to live in a way that allows me to enjoy the time we have on this beautiful planet. All that, from watching the sky.
One thing I’ve been working on over the last year, is trusting my intuition. Not just mentally or emotionally, but physically too. I try to tune into when I feel energetic or tired, and work accordingly but that’s not always possible, especially when it comes to fitting in what my body and soul needs around work commitments. Don’t get me wrong, I love my jobs. I love the cafe I work in, with it’s retro 50’s style, fresh flowers and amazing self-baked cakes. I love my colleagues, the giggles we have, and the customers. I love that it’s a seven minute bike ride from my house. And I love teaching yoga. I love the Shala I teach in with its positive energy and warmth. I love my boss, best friend and teacher. And I love my students. So what’s wrong with that picture? Not having the time or energy to love it all, completely.
In an effort to try and do everything, I took on too much and my life/work schedule became unbalanced. To keep myself financially afloat, I opted to work evenings during the week which, along with my classes, means I usually have no evening Monday to Friday to wind down, to spend with my love, to make spontaneous trips to our favourite restaurant for pasta and wine, to read, to study, to cook something delicious or even, sometimes, to cook anything at all. In my mind, when I opted for this option way back then, I’d told myself I could do it all. I could wake up at 6am, practice yoga, meditate, have a good breakfast, study yoga/asana/philosophy and then start work in the afternoon, and still have time to socialise and live.
As you can imagine, this did. not. happen. Especially during the weeks when I had to work weekends too. My standard response to pretty much anything was ‘I can’t, I’m busy.’ Trying to schedule time to talk on the phone with a friend took military precision - literally having to consult my diary for free time. It wasn’t what I wanted, or what I’ve envisaged for myself. I’m a realist. I’m very aware that it’s not always possible to have it all, that sacrifices need to be made in life. I’m an advocate of that. It even says so in my astrological chart - for reals. But when those sacrifices start to take a toll on your life and relationships, it’s time for a change.
If you follow my Instagram, you’ll have read that the last few posts were about the things yoga teaches us off the mat. One of those things, is surrender. To recognise our limits and to know when to push through, and when to just let it go. To trust that the mat, the floor, the wall, the chair, the universe, is there to support you. This is not something that comes easily to me - I like to plan, I like to know, I like to control. I like to be dependable. So telling my cafe boss that I have to change how I work, or asking my yoga boss if I can change my teaching schedule in order to have more free time, was not easy. The feeling of letting people down is something I hate but having seen what overworking can do to a person’s body and mind, it was a decision that had to be taken.
That, along with the autumn self-care rituals I’ve implemented over the last few weeks and will be sharing very soon, has left me feeling much more stable, calmer. When we can rest more, we can give more. You wouldn’t expect your car to run with an empty tank of petrol, so why should we expect our bodies to serve us when we don’t give it what it needs? How can we live the lives we truly want to live, if we don’t make the changes we need to in order to do it?
Intuition can be a scary thing because, in the beginning, it’s often weak and you don’t know if you’re actually listening to it or just some nonsensical words running around your head. The good news is, it’s like a muscle. The more you use it, the easier to hear it becomes, the safer you feel to follow it and the stronger it grows. You might need a nudge in the right direction to know when to flex it, but in the end, you are your own teacher. YOU know what’s best for you, even if that knowledge is buried under self-doubt.
How have you learned to listen to your intuition? I’m always interested to hear the paths of others too. We’re all in the same journey, after all.