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A yoga instructor, I’ll call her Bridgett, took a Warrior’s Way clinic a couple of years ago. She recently emailed saying she was in a slump. She lost the passion she felt for teaching yoga. She asked for suggestions for dealing with slumps. I think we’ve all felt this way at some point in our lives.

We could be suffering from what I call “climax disease”: we think life should always be exciting. There’s a Zen saying that can change our perspective on what’s exciting: Look for the extraordinary in the ordinary. Being in a slump doesn’t feel exciting, it feels ordinary. Yet slumps occur for a reason. There’s something extraordinary about being in a slump. To find it, we need to find what’s happening below the level of our awareness.

Let’s look at this in the context of a cycle. There’s a cycle that contains one-pointed awareness and expanded awareness. One-pointed awareness focuses our attention toward a clearly defined goal. This is necessary for creating the intensity needed to accomplish a goal. A light-laser gives us an image of this type of awareness. But being only one-pointed is out of balance. It can cause us to lose contact with our passion. Our attention can shift toward the end goal and away from the process. To regain balance, we need to experience the other part of the cycle: expanded awareness.

When we’re in a slump we feel discontent. Our awareness has expanded beyond being one-pointed. Now, since our awareness has shifted away from our goal, we have an opportunity to look around and pay attention to subtleties. A flood-light gives us an image of this type of awareness. Something is occurring below the level of our awareness and we need to be attentive to it. Perhaps our motivation has shifted: from enjoying the process, toward achieving the end goal? Perhaps we need to change our goal or modify our process? Perhaps we need to get back in contact with why we’re doing the activity and what we want to create?

So, what to do? Don’t hide from a slump or avoid the feeling of discontent. Rather, be fully attentive to it. We can pay more attention as we go through our daily activities. Are we glossing over the same things we see each day? Look at things with more attention to the details. Doing this will help us notice coincidences and synchronicities. These are signs for changing our goal or modifying our process. Maybe we can rethink how and why we do our activity. What other interests are being revealed?

As we go through this process, it’s important to honor what’s within us that needs expression, rather than looking for how to fill other’s needs. I know that may seem selfish, but it’s a paradox. We can help others most by honoring what we’re passionate about. Our motivation will come from the passion we feel for sharing the activity with others, not from the end goals we want to achieve for ourselves.

Bridgett expressed interest in the philosophy, mental, meditative, and breath components of yoga. She was interested in expanding yoga, beyond just doing the yoga poses, to life in general. She noticed these components as something important within her that needed expression. Let’s rethink each of these points:

  • What is the philosophy behind yoga or any self-improvement discipline? What does it teach that helps us understand reality better?
  • Is yoga mental? How can I help people improve their mental focus through yoga?
  • Yoga is active meditation. What’s the goal of meditation? The goal is being present. How can I teach being present in yoga?
  • How does the breath help us in yoga? Could yogic breath-work translate to life in general?

These questions need to be answered by Bridgett. When we face a slump, we’ll need to find what’s within us that needs expression, and answer such questions ourselves.

Finally, we may need to take a break, separate from our passion so we can reconnect with what truly inspired us when we started. We need to be patient with ourselves during this process. There’s a reason we’re in a slump. Be present for it. Something extraordinary is happening below the level of our awareness. What is it? Look around. Be attentive.

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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Kyle Stapp

    Absolutely superb! itd be nice, nourishing even to see others find the extraordinary in the ordinary.

    I heard a great master say once that to be extraordinary (now a days) is to be ordinary, but to be ordinary (conciously, purposely, lovingly) is to be extraordinary.

    I see the connection between your lesson today and the masters lesson of yesterday. Keep rattling peoples minds (its not every day you run into someone who has child-like fascination for something ordinary therefore Id say most dont see the extraordinary in the ordinary).

    great man! love it.

  2. Ann

    Excellent blog.
    I have lots of interests and run from one to the next. I find it’s hard to really be ‘passionate’ about any particular thing. (I labeled it as ‘inquisitive’). I realize that I’m running from the ‘slump’.
    I’ve been confusing excitement for passion. Interesting, I’ve got some thinking to do on this one.

  3. Very well said brother Arno… Sometimes the thing we are searching for are just below the level we are at a certain time in our journey or studies… You have to meditate & go back and observe what we missed…

    Love, d

  4. Roxana

    A man of knowledge likes, that’s all. He likes whatever or whoever he wants…” Carlos Castaneda, Don Juan
    Arno, Can you put a FB button for share or/and like? I want to like and share many of your articles right from this page if possible.
    Thanks

  5. Annalisa

    This article is great! It actually has a lot of thoughts that have been in my mind before, but without the clarity your words brought to them. When I’m feeling down about things, I do try to think about what needs to be expressed and what aspect am I losing. For climbing this happened to me, but I took a break and thought about what i liked about climbing and why I wasn’t feeling that anymore. I came to the realization of what it was. I went to climbing because it was fun and centered around personal achievement, but the constant draw into competition was centering it on something else. It was being better than others instead of the striving for personal best. Taking a break and rethinking it changed. Now I’m happy with it again. I totally agree with all you’ve said. Thanks for the great thoughts

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