In case you’re having issues channeling your inner voice to figure out your next move, Shunya mudra can help.
What to do:
1. Extend all ten fingers.
2. Bend middle fingers down to base of thumbs.
3. Lightly press down on middle fingers with thumbs.
The middle finger is associated with the sky (ether) and considered to be the gateway to higher dimensions, so this finger positioning is lovingly referred to as the heaven mudra. Meditate with your hands in Shunya mudra in order to help with ear aches and hearing problems—or just to turn up the volume on the wisdom that resides within.
About a year ago, I took a job I knew wasn’t right for me. The pay was great and I would only have to work one week a month in order to satisfy my duties, so I figured I could put up with it, especially since I could work from home, which would ensure I had some sort of regular income once I moved to Toronto. But the content left much to be desired (I am sure there is probably someone out there who would do cartwheels given the opportunity to work for a real estate magazine, but this would not be my experience). It’s only one week a month, I told myself. You can stomach it.
But I didn’t.
Each month, as files came my way to be edited, I did everything I could to distract myself, mentally checking out so that I wouldn’t have to suffer through each boring article that appeared in my in box. That I wasn’t able to focus on the task at hand just made the job worse and, consequentially, required me to have to work on each page that much longer since I was subconsciously refusing to be fully present in the moment. This paired with the magazine’s inability to stay organized and on schedule during each close only added to my growing disdain for the publication, requiring me to stay up reading until 11pm, midnight, even 2am on the night of a close. These were not ideal circumstances.
But I battled through it, albeit miserably, because I was relying on this monthly week of hell to support myself, to live. It’s just one week a month, I reminded myself. Toughen up.
As the months went by, I found myself dreading the time I would have to spend dedicated to my laptop to earn that cushy four-figure check. I noticed I wasn’t sleeping well during each close and, chained to my computer to try to stay on top of my work, I was neglecting my yoga practice, the one thing that I needed most to respond to the stress that was amounting physically in my body. I began getting massages monthly in order to counter the damage this job was wreaking on me.
This January, though, marked a new low: Working on a special 75-page supplement that would be published inside the regularly monthly, I was told I could expect an extra week’s worth of work. I eagerly accepted the duty as I envisioned the sum of the paycheck and waited patiently for the extra pages to come in. But as the days wore on and my in box barren of emails from the magazine, I began to grow increasingly concerned as time was running out if we were going to finish by deadline. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I thought maybe, pressed for time, they outsourced the work to another editor to help expedite the process. Not so. They assured me I was the only one working on this publication and were then kind enough to send me the first batch of pages at 11:45pm—the night before all 75 pages were due at 5pm the following day.
I did not take this well.
While I did my best to get the pages back to them in as timely a fashion as possible, I expressed my unhappiness with the situation to my boss, finally voicing my frustration with the late-night closes, explaining that as I read for a living, my brain can’t function well—if at all—after 8pm, threatening to quit if things didn’t change. He told me he understood and that he would try to be more mindful in the future.
I was glad that we had had our chat, but still had an uneasy feeling about the whole thing. Should I just quit? I asked myself. I really don’t want to do this anymore. But then I reminded myself of that paycheck, reminded myself that I only needed to put up with the bullshit one week a month, reminded myself of how “lucky” I was to be able to have this gig that I could do virtually anywhere if I felt like picking up and moving again. I decided to give them one more chance.
So when I received a 4-page story at 10:30pm the night of the next close with 4 other pages still to be sent my way, I had no hesitation in informing my boss that that was it. I was through. This would be the last issue I worked on.
Aside from the feeling of relief and elation to be rid of my source of unhappiness, I was surprised at how easy it was to follow my instinct, at how GOOD it felt to listen and act on what I knew to be true all along. And while it might unnerve and scare some to leave a job with nothing lined up to take its place, I trust that something better will come along of its own accord. Some might think me crazy, but I know that something better suited to my lifestyle and interests will come along. Something that I can be fully present in doing, something I know will bring someone else joy.
As Erich Schiffman says in Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness, “Develop the willingness to ask, the ability to hear, and the courage to act in accordance with your deepest impulses…. Dare to do what your deepest impulses encourage you to do.” Because it is in listening to ourselves, to that inner voice that can be our greatest teacher. Because that teacher is us. I had the answer I needed last month when I questioned whether or not I should quit. Heck, I had the answer last year when I first started the job, but I chose to ignore my intuition, I chose to ignore the message that was coming from within—and suffered accordingly.
I share with you this story not to bitch or for your sympathy or pity, but as an example: We have all the answers we need for any and every situation that arises, we just have to know how to listen in order to solve our own problems.
“Right before a change, we encounter all our obstacles to that change. This is known as a ‘Sunset Effect’.”
- Caroline Case. Photo via EarthStarStudios.
I want to think again of dangerous and noble things. I want to be light and frolicsome. I want to be improbable and beautiful and afraid of nothing, as though I had wings. — Mary Oliver; Starlings in Winter (via kaleidoscopedreams)