How do you feel when you look at your calendar? How about your to-do list?
What does it feel like to see the transactions on your bank statement? What about the food on your plate?
What have you said “yes” to? And have those commitments been conscious?
When we are approached with opportunities, requests and desires (from others and from ourselves,) how do we know when to say yes, what to prioritize and when to gracefully decline?
I can tell when I need a cleanse in the commitment department when I start feeling like my schedule has taken over my life. Or when my money is “already spent” as soon as it comes in. And when food is entering my mouth because it’s there and not because it’s what I’m really hungry for.
Part of the reason things get like this for me is because I tend to resist commitments. I drag my feet, procrastinate, talk to myself in not-nice ways—in fact, the definition of commitment that most resonates with me is: an obligation that restricts action. And who wants that?
I am ready to redefine what commitment means to me. I do fully believe that every single thing is a choice. Even not choosing is a choice. Which means in each moment, we get to choose whether to move closer to what we want, who we are, and why we’re here or further away. We have the opportunity to connect more deeply or disconnect more completely.
What if I began to see each “yes” not as a relinquishment of freedom, but as a privilege, an opportunity and a responsibility to my dharma, my purpose?
What if making a commitment became devoting myself to an action?
Our moments, days and lives are going to fill up with something. What if they were overflowing with devotion?
This seems like an approach I could embrace when it comes to planning a yoga class, going on a date with my husband or buying a basketful of fresh veggies at the farmer’s market. But what about vacuuming out the car, dealing with a technology glitch on my website or having a difficult conversation? Or worse…going through all the bank and credit card statements to see where my money really went this past year.
Before we know what makes the devotional cut, we need to know what’s truly important to us. When we are confused about this, choices become whims, external input overrules intuition and giving up is totally an option. Our why is what gives us meaning. The foundation of committing—devoting—is knowing what we want. Like, deep-down-soul want. The antidote to confusion is intention. So let’s get clear.
1. Identify what’s important.
Bring to your awareness something that is causing an inner commitment turmoil. Identify what life area it falls into. Is it in the context of home or work? A wellness goal? Does it have to do with your relationships? A creative or spiritual pursuit? Envision this life area. What matters most in this part of your life? Determine what you value in that realm.
2. Shed light on resistance.
Become curious. When you consider making or breaking this commitment, what does it feel like? Notice if there is an emotion that arises. What thoughts flood in? Is there physical sensation present?
3. Determine if this commitment is aligned.
Brave and true devotional commitments have three components. Sit comfortably with your feet on the ground. Close your eyes. Take a few deep, even breaths. And ask yourself these three questions:
>> Does this commitment support my core values in this life area?
>> Does this commitment build competency?
>> Does this commitment elevate my best self?
4. What are you actually devoted to?
The two obvious results are when our answers are all yes (this is something you can devote yourself to) or when our answers are all no (bag it immediately.) What about when the answers are more in the “sort of” category? Begin by asking yourself why you are considering this commitment. When you get an answer, ask why again. Continue this inquiry until you have the truest reason this commitment is even on your radar. Check in with the questions again. In devoting to that, maybe there is some way to help yourself by hiring or bartering someone to to the parts that don’t fit.
5. Find the bigger meaning.
How is this commitment a privilege? An opportunity? A responsibility to your dharma? This goes for all commitments. Even doing the laundry.
6. Are there any preliminary commitments that need to be made to make this possible?
This includes supplies, arrangements, announcements, conversations, going to a specific location. It also includes making or carving out space for it. (Sometimes these can be our biggest reasons for resistance.)
7. Is there a counter commitment that needs to be considered?
In yoga there are counter poses. When we stretch in one direction, we neutralize by stretching in the other. What needs to be neutralized or balanced here? If your commitment requires intense movement, a counter might be rest. If it involves lots of people and talking, a counter could be some time with yourself and a book. If it’s left-brained, a creative pursuit could bring balance. This consideration gives a holistic viewpoint, honoring the inherent connectivity of all things.
We get to choose the moments that make up our lives. It’s so easy to get busy and lost in it. We hop on the treadmill and important things get put in the “someday” category. When that happens, I invite us all to take a look at our moments.
Each moment has the potential of being a devotion, a true yes.
And each conscious yes becomes a brave step on our truest path.
Author: Pamela Nauda Clark
Editor: Catherine Monkman; Katarina Tavčar