Lately I’ve been thinking about the concept of “being ready”.
How do you know when you’re ready to get up in the morning?
Or when you’re done with your shower?
In yoga, how do we know when we are ready to leave one pose to get into a new one?
Sometimes it happens “automatically”.
You have an alarm, and that decides things for you.
Or you need to pee, so up you go.
But what if there’s no alarm? And you don’t feel like getting up?
How do you know when you’re ready to get out of bed?
This transition “state” fascinates me: what makes us ready to leave one place and enter another?
Take getting out of bed in the morning. Imagine there’s no alarm, and you have nothing to do all day.
What makes you get up?
What if you want to sleep some more? What if you simply don’t feel ready to face the day just yet?
As someone with serious tendencies towards depression, I spend a lot of time thinking about the forces that move me in the direction of “OK, getting up now”… and what happens when they just don’t show up. What happens when the “push” or the “desire” to get up simply isn’t there?
When I simply cannot find any reason to leave the bed?
I remember one year, when we went on holidays to the hills. Every morning Dad would come to wake me and Brother up, and every morning I would ask him “what are we doing today”, to which he would reply “I don’t know”.
Not knowing what we were doing that day made me not want to get up at all. (In my defense, the “hills” are very boring for a couple of children, there’s nothing to do but walk, and walk is difficult when you’re climbing hills. Also, since I had depression, any kind of physical activity was extra challenging, especially when I didn’t enjoy it)
We’ve been acting on “external pressure” our whole lives
Most of us don’t spend any time thinking about this transition “state”.
We have been bandied about quite a bit, throughout childhood and adolescence, taken to places we didn’t particularly want to go. Metaphorical places, or literal places.
We lose touch with whatever internal mechanism is supposed to tell us “now, this… and now that”.
Years of acting out of force and external pressures leave us either: acting out of fear of the authority that says “you must do this” (which might well be the alarm clock) or rebelling against that “authority” and not doing anything (That would be me).
Neither is acting out of internal guidance and intuition.
After years and years of being directed by “external pressure”, how do we learn to navigate by “internal guidance”?
Learning to act from internal guidance
I ask myself, continuously, “what do you want to do now?”. (OK, it’s actually my Imaginary Friend who does the asking for me, but you get the point)
I have an imaginary list of things to offer myself, depending on my emotional mood. “Do you want to listen to some audio? Do you want to sleep? Do you want to have coffee? Do you want to stay here with your eyes closed and connect with yourself and get clarity? Do you want to just rest, in whatever form it wants to show up?”
I give myself ton of permission to feel whatever it is I’m feeling. If the answer to each question is an angry “NO!!!”, if I just feel like sleeping all day, even if I feel like napping right after I get up in the morning, I let myself feel whatever it is I’m feeling. It’s all legitimate and valid and perfectly OK, even if annoying. (it doesn’t mean I let myself do whatever I want, just that I recognise that my want is legitimate)
Accessing internal guidance
First we have to stop trying to force ourselves to do things. Easing up on external pressure and giving ourselves the freedom to just “be”. Non-doing.
That’s how we get quiet, so we can hear our internal guidance.
Then we have to be OK with that internal guidance, which requires a lot of trust. Most of the time, we won’t like what our internal guidance is telling us. That’s why we aren’t listening. Duh!
The rewards of learning to act on internal guidance are enormous.
Wellbeing, for one.
The certainty that we can trust our true nature, a real sense of confidence that can only come from following our gut instincts.
And also, the perception of being agents in our own story, of being present as our story unfolds, and playing the role we want to play to be in alignment with our story.
Put simply: we go through life feeling that we are at the right place, at the right time, doing what we’re supposed to be doing.
See you later, existential anxiety. Hello, peace.
It’s all experimenting, and there is no right answer
I have been experimenting for quite a while now, on “finding out when I’m ready” and all I can say for sure is that there is no “right answer”. The feeling of “ready” is different every time.
Every time I wake up, the answer to “am I ready to get up?” is different. (Can you believe it? It’s different every day! Darn!)
And yet, experimenting, paying attention and asking myself “how do I feel about this now”, helps me get my bearings and “become ready”.
Pondering whether I am ready helps me get ready. There isn’t “one sign” or “one thing” that tells me, for certain, that I am unequivocally ready.
And ultimately, that’s not why we practice. Or why we live.
Because the goal is not to “get things right”. The goal is to stay present.