“There is more to life than increasing its speed”- Mohandas Gandhi
As the machine of our body and mind produces ‘results’, meets ‘deadlines’ , completes ‘reports’, and achieves ‘targets’, we need to ‘pause’ and ‘oil’ our machines. Steven Covey calls this as the P/PC -Production/Production capability- balance. As our accomplishments double, we need to see the capacity of our machines to produce; as we excel in our careers, we need to take regular inventory of our consciousness. Successful Tennis and Leadership coach Peter Burwash calls the modern obsession with career growth as ‘running every-day-athons’. He reveals that most people today lie down at night with their brain and body still in motion. We have overworked minds and under-worked bodies. We are living in a culture where most of us are cut off from our natural rhythms. Twentieth century American monk and mystic Thomas Merton captured this essence, “Happiness is not a matter of intensity, but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.”
A ‘break’ before you ‘breakdown’
A spiritual leader avoids stress induced breakdowns by regularly taking an aerial view of his life. He examines the speed as well as the direction of his life. He asks certain painful questions before it’s too late: “is this pursuit in line with my life’s mission?”; “am I compromising with the sacred principles to achieve these goals?” and “am I doing justice to my talents and meeting my deep purposes and adding value to others’ lives?” The answers to these questions are discovered when we get out of our busy schedules, spend time in a quiet place, and examine our hearts through contemplative prayer and introspection.
Some may scoff at the idea of a break from a serious, ambitious pursuit of one’s career, but it’s akin to an ambitious architect discrediting the idea of taking out time for sharpening his pencil. Yes, while you polish you may appear to be not drawing the sketches but you are simply ensuring the sustainability of the pursuit. Similarly an occasion to break from your daily office routine may appear to be a loss of many work hours, but it simply means you can work longer, better, and happier. Besides, as you take time off and augment –‘sharpen’- your skills or seek spiritual nourishment, you may discover a new idea, a better path or a fresh insight into life. This also helps you recharge your batteries, and be more focussed in your chosen path.
The ‘Triple ‘P’ formula
Many successful leaders do press the ‘pause’ button in life and this only helps them achieve internal congruence and peace within themselves. After all what’s the use if one earns a billion bucks but is deeply discontented and disillusioned with his life. As Jesus said, “what profiteth a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?”
Many senior spiritual practitioners and teachers in Radhanath Swami’s ashram in downtown Mumbai follow the Triple ‘P’ formula- Pause, Pray and Proceed. They take an occasional break from their tight daily schedules of 14-18 hours. They spend a couple days prayerfully chanting God’s names, and absorbing in the study of devotional scriptures. This nourishes their intelligence as well the soul, and they are raring to go after the break. They come back and once again proceed with their rigorous schedules. While many marvel at their resilience, few know the secret; they take time out, press the ‘pause’ button and connect closer to God and their own souls. Keeping spiritual goal as the foundation of our lives and seeing our careers as facilitators for our spiritual existence helps us achieve tremendous balance. It helps us see our work as an offering of love to God and humanity, and hence our daily work becomes pleasurable. Well-known American celebrity Donald Trump couldn’t have said it better, “If you’re interested in ‘balancing’ work and pleasure, stop trying to balance them. Instead make your work more pleasurable.”
Rationale of a spiritual pursuit
Peter Burwash in his ‘Becoming the master of your DASH’ offers compelling arguments to make spirituality as the foundation of our lives in order to achieve balance. He explains logically how our daily lives are lead at a rapid pace. We do everything-eating, work, talking, drive, e-mails- fast and then as we try sleeping at night we suddenly try slowing down. “Speed has invaded your personal life. You are infatuated with speed, and while your speeding train is racing down the tracks, the scenery around you is a blur”. And if some of us- especially the spiritualists- step off the train to admire the country side we feel tremendously guilty and the society also adds to our guilt. However it’s this spiritual pursuit alone that adds a semblance of sanity to our mad paced lives.
When we pause and pray to God daily, we connect to nature and the universe on a much deeper and satisfying level; this daily exercise helps us grow spiritually, and also keeps our mind peaceful. As Mother Teresa said, “my place in the universe is much more important than my place in any corporate world.”