Several years ago a (not very serious) boyfriend asked me a question: “What do you want?”
Woooah. Big question. He meant it in reference to our relationship and where we were going, but I dismissed it lightly with a joke, like I did a lot of things in those days. Really? Who was he to turn on the pressure and turn a fun time into something serious?
I didn’t realize how big this question would turn out to be.
The next day, about to embark on a 9-hour day flight to the Philippines, I grabbed a book on my way out the door: Debbie Ford’s The Right Questions. Never one for working while traveling, I was prepared for a full day of watching movies, napping and mindlessly taking some time out. Not working. Not thinking. Not engaging.
It’s funny how the universe works. When you need to pay attention to something, the universe conspires to make it happen.
The on-board entertainment wasn’t working. No music, no movies, no mindless opting out of the day. No ignoring the big question.
9 hours is a long time when there are no distractions.
When we’re in our normal environment we’ll find anything to take us from the task at hand. We’ll find ourselves incredibly, incredibly busy: work, children, errands, admin. The pace of life will increase. Our workload will double. There’ll be an endless list of things that simply have to get done.
And when we’re not busy, we’re exhausted. So the TV, the eating, the shopping, the mindless gossip at the hairdresser or whatever else it is we do to reward ourselves, fills the remaining headspace. Afterall, we deserve a rest don’t we?
The result is that we’re constantly busy, ever distracted and comfortably numbed out from the burning question that lurks.
Those 9 hours were long. I read the book. No. I devoured the book. I highlighted sentences and took notes. I contemplated every single one of the 10 questions presented. And then reflected on them again. I had a little drizz. I smiled. I experienced curiosity and relief and joy.
And clarity. I experienced clarity.
I landed in Manila and arrived at my 5-star hotel. I walked into the foyer enveloped by the beautiful sound of a string quartet. And the first thought that passed through my mind?
I’ve had enough of this shit. I want to go home.
That was the day I decided to quit corporate and become a wellness practitioner.
For those 9 hours, there was no busyness and no distraction. Instead of mindlessly numbing out, I was fully in my body. I was in the here and now, reflecting, exploring and allowing. I gave myself the opportunity to pause, to feel and to answer probably the most life-affirming question possible.
Do it. Spend some time here.
Maybe not for 9 hours, but I challenge you to give it at least 1.
Grab a journal and take yourself off to a quiet, inspiring spot. Allow a complete free-flow of writing. Keep going. Don’t take your pen off the page. If you’re stuck, just write: “I want…” and then finish the sentence. And then repeat again, and again, and again.
Maybe your answers won’t be as dramatic as wanting to quit a job, move country or end a relationship. Answering the question might not lead to a 180 degree shift in your world.
Maybe it sheds light in a subtle way. Perhaps you realize that there’s a part of you that you miss and want to reclaim. Maybe you’ll be reminded of long-forgotten passions that are yearning to be rediscovered.
Maybe you’ll admit to a deep desire to have, to do, to try or to be something that you’ve never really acknowledged before.
Or perhaps you’ll know that you’re exactly where you want to be. For now.
Whatever this brings up for you, that’s OK. You may be surprised, or even a little scared. That’s good.
Either way you’re sitting with the truth of yourself and your desires.
And with this truth, you can allow the space to move forward.
By Jessica Uys, Guest Blogger for the BodyMind Institute
Jessica is a BodyTalk Practitioner and Wellness Coach who helps women part with perfection and find freedom in letting go so they can create space for a life they love. She’s big on self-care, self-kindness and small, gentle changes that empower you to get to the root of what you really want and desire. Jessica is smart, funny and daringly honest. Her clients value her empathy and insight, her ability to see things from a different perspective, and her practical and straightforward approach. www.jessicauys.com/
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