Do you ever have a hard time making decisions, choosing between one course of action or another?
Or, on an even deeper level, are you still trying to decide ‘what you want to be when you grow up’? Trying to discover what your ‘passion’ is, what really makes you tick?
As a violinist, pursuing a career in performing music (at last), I have been told many times, ‘You are so lucky. You know what you love to do. I haven’t a clue.’
I am always quick to agree. Somewhat apologetically, though also pointing out that it took me a good many years to allow myself to ‘follow my bliss’ and turn it into a career.
But it got me thinking about passion and purpose and what makes some activities so extremely satisfying and others much less so.
I made a list of what I most love doing in life. Things like; playing the violin, being a mother, practicing yoga, writing, EFT and meditation, petting my cats, sometimes teaching…a good long list of seemingly unrelated pursuits.
But as I paid attention and really started to focus on each one I realized what the connection was.
The ones that I love the most and that I find the most enjoyable and fulfilling are those which involve 3 elements on a regular basis.
Those three things are body, mind and spirit (or soul).
I went back to the words of Wallace D Wattles in his classic book ‘The Science of Getting Rich’:
“There are three motives for which we live; we live for the body, we live for the mind, we live for the soul. No one of these is better or holier than the other; all are alike desirable, and no one of the three – body, mind, or soul – can live fully if either of the others is cut short of full life and expression.”
I considered what this meant for me regarding, for example, the violin.
First of all, body.
Well, of course. Using my arms, hands, fingers, feeling the pulse, striving to feel balanced, relaxed and easy as I move to the music and execute the infinite variety of movements required to play this super-complex instrument. That also explains why the piano didn’t ‘do it’ for me. I love having the violin tucked right under my chin and there is something deeply sensual in drawing the bow across the string and creating the vibrations necessary to make the violin sing. Definitely the body.
Then, the mind.
‘Left-brain’ work, figuring out notes and rhythms, pitches, fingering and bowings. Putting my part together with all the others, working out the technical and musical challenges in all their intricate detail. Researching musical styles, composers and listening to and observing performances by master players. Yup, lots of mind needed too.
I would say we all love music, in its infinite variety, because it speaks to us on an emotional and spiritual level. And as a performer I have come to think of myself, not so much a source, as a ‘channel’ for music. As I play, the emotions and feelings, in all their shades and nuances, seem to spring from somewhere deep within me and it is my job to transmit those sentiments to the listener. It feels like an almost mystical connection which I feel amazingly fortunate to experience. So, yes, absolutely, spirit.
So the violin is clearly my ‘calling’. But how about something relatively prosaic?
For instance, taking exercise. And making decisions about which one to pursue. I enjoy working out and moving my body, but some activities are very pleasurable and rewarding, and some, well quite frankly, deeply boring and a huge effort (and easy to avoid!)
My number one favorite exercise is Hatha yoga. I started taking yoga classes many years ago (in my late teens) when I was living in London. I remember the weekly classes which took place in a big room over a large, noisy pub (!), close to my home. Learning how to twist myself in to unfamiliar shapes, becoming more flexible, stronger and yet more relaxed and inner-focused at the same time. Once again, it fed, and still feeds, the 3 cornerstones – body, mind and spirit.
A few months ago I decided I needed to do something more aerobic
(though 10 fast Sun Salutations certainly get your heart-rate going too!) I bought a DVD series called Focus T25. 10 sessions, each 25 minutes of hard, fast exercise, with the instructor, Shaun T, urging me to ‘focus’ and ‘punch your stomach’ (I ask you!) It was great fun and very challenging at first and I could definitely feel myself getting fitter…but as the novelty wore off I started to resent being nagged and (almost) punished into shape and started to skip a few minutes here (T15 instead of T25!), a couple of days there…and then, a month or so ago, I went thankfully back to yoga. And I even discovered a ‘new’ Youtube channel ‘Yoga with Adriene’and am on Day 10 (‘I Am Present’) of her Yoga Camp. Nurturing myself into body, mind and spirit wellness. Much more my style. Not only do I not miss days, I wake up eager to be ‘on my mat’.
The ‘perfect triangle’ also explains to me why an activity can be so wonderful sometimes and, at other times, perfectly horrible.
Take teaching. Sometimes I love it. I love analyzing, working out the clearest, most illuminating way to transmit an idea, information or concept and then using my body language, speech and actions to do so. For me, teaching at its best is like performing and so requires a full-on body experience. And add to that the deep satisfaction of sharing knowledge and seeing other people learning and growing.
But other times I loathe it. It can be boring, mind-numbing, repetitive and soul-destroying. I’m sure there are some born teachers out there who don’t plumb these depths (and they are the ones we remember long after as key figures in our learning and in our lives) but for me, I experience both extremes pretty regularly.
Becoming aware of all of this has helped me to use this ‘sacred triad’ to add to my every day happiness.
For example, when I am writing, an activity which engages me mentally and spiritually, I have a tendency to ignore my body (apart from drinking coffee or tea!) After a long stretch I suddenly realize that my back is aching and, as I get up from my habitual kneeling on the chair position, my feet and knees protest mightily. So I’ve started to try and add in a few stretches and wiggles from time to time (one due about now!), making contact with my body before it needs to scream at me.
I have also begun to use these three criteria in order to help me in making decisions.
Here’s an example:
Having written my book, ‘The Music Inside’, about my challenges and experiences moving back into performing, and through working closely with a coach, Brad Yates (who, by the way, finishes every EFT tapping round with the words ‘In body, mind and spirit’), and taking many on and off-line courses, I have started offering coaching in this area.
Feeling the need to get extra training and certification, over the last few weeks I have been checking out the different options and possibilities available. Several different avenues opened up and many seemed very interesting…but then I would let the sign-up deadline slip past and not commit to anything.
And then one particular opportunity arose and I realized that it ticked the three boxes for me.
Not just a training in working with clients and in marketing – both fantastic and very important – but also because it deals with energy psychology, the body, mind and spirit connection. Just perfect for me with my love of EFT and meditation and my fascination with this whole field. (In case you are interested you can find information here: EFT Universe Certification and Training Center. )
So now I have devised a simple, mathematical way of making my decisions – for example trying to decide between two, or even more, options – and called it ‘The MBS Formula’.
Here’s how it works:
Take each option and using a scale of 0-10, rate them in the 3 areas of body, mind and spirit. 0 is ‘Nope, doesn’t go near it for me’ and 10 being total, Nirvanic bliss, right ‘in the zone’.
Then add ‘em up. Take notes on the ‘whys’. Get clearer about your preferences.
As an illustration, here’s that violin vs. piano choice that I touched on earlier:
And the winner is…the violin, hands down!!
Try it yourself: Do I choose this job or that one? This restaurant/film/leisure activity or the other? Take the car or the metro? This life partner or that one?
Or: What am I passionate about? Designing websites, being a financial consultant, a doctor or a dog-walker?
Give it a try! Maximising your body, mind and spirit may be just the way to go!
And to close, the beautiful words of B.K.S Iyengar:
“The rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind and the harmony of the soul, create the symphony of life. “
- We live for the body, we live for the mind and we live for the spirit (or soul). No one is more important or more desirable.
- We can use these three criteria as a way of understanding why we enjoy what we do and what we are really passionate about.
- By creating a balance between the three we can also increase our happiness and well-being.
- Try the ‘M.B.S. Formula’ to gain clarity and ease in making decisions.