The yogis say, do less and accomplish more. I’ve heard this repeated frequently over the past few years but I don’t think I really understood what it meant until very recently.
There is an old story of a man riding very fast on a horse. As he rides past a friend who is standing on the side of the road, the friend yells, “Where are you going?” The rider turns toward his friend and yells, “I don’t know! Ask the horse!”
The pace and intensity of our lives, both at work and at home, leave many of us feeling like that person riding a frantically galloping horse. Our daily, incessant busyness — too much to do and not enough time, and the pressure to produce and tick things off our to do list — seems to determine the direction and quality of our existence.
Sometimes the day’s furious deadlines make us believe we are so busy that we don’t even have a minute — much less 10 or 20 — to stop, eat, or reflect on what it is we are doing and why we’re even doing it in the fist place. Over time, busyness dulls us. Ironically, this state of chronic overwork means we have even less time to pull out the grinding and polishing stones we need to regain our sharp edge. We become accustomed to using an increasingly dull saw, and soon we are expending all kinds of unnecessary and ineffectual effort for less than ideal results.
As a result of this vicious cycle, our perceptions become skewed. We convince ourselves that we can’t do the very things that we most want to, the things that would make all our efforts easier, more effective and more satisfying.
Granted, we usually become over busy for justifiable reasons — we are pursuing our dreams, being responsible adults, assisting our family members or colleagues, and seeking happiness and freedom. Having a lot to do is not innately a bad thing. Most of us love being active. But when our busyness makes us feel depleted rather than complete, when we run down the path toward freedom and accomplishment but find them getting further away, it’s a sign we’ve pushed beyond productivity.
Fortunately, we don’t need to do anything extra to return to our original state of sharpness, even to accomplish more. We only need to do less of what gets in the way.
What do I mean when I say that you can do less and yet accomplish more? The guiding principle is that when we approach any task in the right spirit, we become more successful and efficient at it. When we engage in fewer self-defeating behaviors, we accomplish more of whatever we set our hearts to.
To achieve these external benefits, however, we first have to turn inward and “do less” within ourselves. This method of doing less involves a simple yet profound transformation. It’s a different way of being in the world. A way of connecting to our inner purpose and being in the flow.
When we are taking actions that are aligned with our purpose things always work out, and flow effortlessly.
I recently collaborated with a dear friend and life coach (Sophie Charlotte) here in Florence on facilitating a day yoga and life coaching retreat. The event came together following a brief conversation we had over a cup of coffee and turned out to be a great success. We didn’t struggle with promotion and simply utilized social media to inform the public and our friends about it. On the day of the event I set an intention to not try and control, but rather surrender and go with the flow, and things just worked out perfectly. For example, everything throughout the day was right on time, even down to the church bells ringing at the precise moment I was guiding the students back from their post yoga savasana. You can’t plan these sort of things, even if you want to.
I’ve coordinated many events and workshops over the past few years, but by far this was the most effortless one. And I didn’t feel drained afterwards. In fact, I felt energized and inspired.
When our actions are aligned with our core values and intentions and we allow the divine to take the lead all is perfect.
Or as I like to say… less is (a)more.
PS- if you’re in Tuscany (or elsewhere) and could use some coaching I highly recommend Sophie. Her website is http://lifecoachsophie.com/