by Kara-Leah Grant, Musings from the Mat
I’m sitting at my computer listening to a great DJ mix on Soundcloud, doing my daily work for The Yoga Lunchbox. Formatting and editing articles, dealing with advertisers, answering emails, posting on social media.
Underneath the surface, as I work, I’m aware of a shift in my energy.
This shift happened a few weeks ago. Maybe a month. I’m not quite sure. Whatever it was that had been driving me incessantly to publish on the internet – ever since 2006 when I started my first blog, Be Conscious Now – had disappeared.
In it’s absence, I was finally able to recognise it for what it was.
I had been seeking recognition. Acknowledgement. To be seen. To be understood. Acclaim possibly too.
I’d known that for a long time – I just didn’t know how to shift it. Now, that no longer drives me. I still can’t pinpoint what shifted or why, or how.
It’s just… gone.
In many ways, this is a relief. Another ego layer dissolves, another aspect of identity shed, something else I don’t have to work to maintain. Thank God! I can just… relax, let go, surrender…
But in the wake of this, I’ve been struggling to motivate myself to work. Especially because it’s mostly unpaid work – this website is largely a labour of love.
In the last four weeks, I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a job – going out to work. But I’m mindful of this jumping from one thing to the next – after all, I attempted to go out into the workforce last year too, and that didn’t work out, for a few reasons.
So I watched these impulses, I keep my eye on jobs available, and I keep turning up to do the work that’s in front of me.
This afternoon, I had a break through. A moment of clarity.
I’ve been working on a sales landing page for a new Yoga Nidra CD release by Will Fenton. He’s a good friend of mine, and we’ve been working together to make this launch great – sorting out photography, choosing colours and fonts, writing copy, and editing. I’ve enjoyed the creativity of the process, and the collaboration.
It’s like a photo shoot I did on Monday morning for a new PDF I’m creating for Inside the Box. It took about 3 hours, and for most of that time, I was doing long holds in postures while the photographer made sure the lightening was just right.
I floated out of the session on cloud nine. The sequence I’d put together – Yoga to Still the Mind – had done just that. In fact, it feels like it’s stilled my mind for the entire week. I feel more present than I have in months. Maybe it’s also because I’m on my second week of no alcohol.
This photo shoot felt different from the one I did 18 months ago. I pondered that as I helped the photographer tear down the lights and back-drop. In a flash, I realised why.
Ego. It’s all about ego. I’ve been all about ego.
That first photo shoot, I was concerned about what people would think of me and what I would look like. It was subtle – but I was attached and stuck in ego.
This photoshoot, I was relaxed and concerned only about breathing in each postures while the photographer did her work. I was completely present in the moment.
It’s been the same with creating Will’s landing page. I’ve been surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed the process. When I did the same thing for Forty Days of Yoga, I struggled. It was bloody hard work and it took days. This time, I should be able to finish the landing page off in one more afternoon’s work.
Intellectually, I’ve known for a long time that practicing yoga while working – Karma Yoga – is the way to go.
Karma Yoga is about the actions we take outside in the world. It’s about performing those actions for their own sake, with no attachment to outcome. I got this.
Or at least, I thought I got this. But getting something intellectually and experiencing it are two different things. And despite knowing for a couple of years that I was motivated by attachment to results, I couldn’t figure out how to drop the attachment. How do you let go?
But what if non-attachment wasn’t the way to liberation, but merely a by-product? What if I’d been trying to put the cart before the horse.
If I can just let go and be all non-attached, then I’ll be free. Yet I knew I was still attached – I still wanted results and outcome from all this action of mine – readership, traffic, money, recognition, whatever, something, anything, give it to me now!
And now I don’t. I don’t mind anymore. I know it would be really useful if I could point at the shift, or isolate the action I took, or describe the technique that got me from there to here.
But I can’t. All I know is that which was driving me is no longer there. There was a vacuum.
Then, this afternoon, sitting on my computer doing my work and pondering motivation, I realised that the only way for me to continue doing what I’m doing is purely for the love of it. For the sheer enjoyment of being creative.
No longer motivated by the desire to be somebody, or to get something, or to go somewhere… I either do it because I love it, or I don’t do it at all. That’s it really. No drama. Huh.
And after reading job vacancies for the last month, I realise that there is nothing out there that is better than what I’m doing.
Sure, I currently make less than the poverty line, but at heart, I love what I do. And I’m growing into it – I’m learning how to write articles that people want to read and need to read. I’m learning how to edit articles and nurture writers. I’m learning how to create products and co-create products that serve the needs of my audience. And I’m learning how to earn money doing all of this.
It is only a journey.
Five years after launching The Yoga Lunchbox, I thought I’d have made it by now. I thought I’d be making great money and there’d be thousands of people every day flowing through the website. I thought mainstream media would be writing me up and calling me up for interviews.
None of that’s happened. Yet I have made it. I get emails from people all the time saying things like:
I really enjoy receiving the monthly digest; reading the articles, seeing what is happening and marvelling your alarming frankness! I would not have your courage to write up the trials and tribulations of my life. However we do all have the same ups and downs so I admire your guts. Good on you!
I just had to write back to you. I admire your openness and acceptance of your self. I love willingness to change and become a new. And your growth so inspiring. Much love.
Kara-Leah you are a wonderful being. Reading this section below on Yoga Lunchbox it is like having someone read my thoughts. Just amazing and so heartening. I am inspired by your fearlessness, your forceful engagement with these challenges and how you breathe into it all.
Reading these emails makes me appreciate the value of what I’m offering.
In a world where spin is the norm and we struggle to be truthful with ourselves let alone the world, the articles that YLB publishes are a breath of fresh air.
Who cares if only hundreds of people read them, not thousands or millions? It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that I write, and nurture writers. This is the artist’s calling – to create, for the sheer love of it.
I’ve finally let go. Completely. I’m here because I love it. Because there is no where else to be. Because I can be playful and creative and collaborative and connect with all kinds of people. Because I can write, in the moment, like now.
(Do I get scared about revealing all? Hell yes. I’m scared now. I feel my mind kicking in and the doubts arising and the… But you know what? I don’t listen. I trust the words that write themselves on the laptop. I trust it all. And I keep moving into that fear, through that fear. That’s all there ever is to do. What else matters?)
(Oh, and when I re-read this in a month or a year, you know what’ll I’ll see? More subtle layers of ego. More unfolding. More letting go. That’s the process. That’s the evolution.)