Sacred Pauses

December 6, 2016

Disclaimer: This post is not to encourage you to quit your job. You can have a life and pursue your dreams with a full-time job too. Each time I decided to quit my job, it was to invest in my health, learn new skills, overcome my fears, travel to new places in India and around the world and generally slow down. Before quitting, I make some lifestyle changes, fulfill all my financial responsibilities, ensure I am debt-free and have some savings to sustain myself. 

A huge learning I had a few years ago was that I do not have to be in a constant state of producing to be seen as productive. Sometimes I am called to stop. And it took me some time to realise that this, the stop, is still taking action to meet my deep inner self. Now, I refer to this stop as my sacred pause. It is the time for me to take a break, slow down, reflect, attune with my environment and body and reconnect with the present moment. It’s in this pause that I am able to refuel, get clear in my own creativity, then be innovative with how I choose to move forward. ⠀

In retrospection, my first significant sacred pause was in 2010. This stop led me to complete my Yoga Teacher Training Course in Kerala, be my fittest self, go for MBA in Paris. After returning to work post-MBA, my sacred pauses were mainly through short travels/trekking during weekends and annual holiday. That’s when I realised how much I really enjoyed travelling.

The second important long pause happen in 2016. After returning from Lahaul & Spiti Valley in September 2015, something changed within me. I just knew it was time to trust my intuition and take the plunge. This time it was not an easy decision to quit my job. I loved my work. I was pretty good at it too. But deep within I knew it was not a sustainable environment for me and definitely not something I could spend 80% of my day, mind and heart for the rest of my life. I had been contemplating it for some time but I could not gather the courage to let go of the financial independence that came with it. I had no concrete plan on what I’d be doing after quitting neither I wanted one. My family, colleagues, and friends kept insisting that I keep another job handy or start planning soon on what I’d like to do next. But I just wanted to take each day as it comes. I wanted to embrace uncertainty. I wanted to reclaim my authentic self. I wanted to fail. I have always got (with a lot of hard work) what I aimed for in life. I never really failed or maybe I never really allowed myself to fail. So I promised myself that for next 1 year, I will do everything I want to, the way I want to, by taking the riskier option and enjoying the failure (if any) that comes with it. I assured myself that if I fail, I can always take another job at the end of 1 year or perhaps something beautiful will blossom from those failures.

After many frank discussions with my boss, my last date of work was agreed to be 15 Apr’16. I undertook a longer notice period to close open projects that were led by me, help interview and find a replacement and overall ensure a smooth handover. Sitting at my office desk, I wrote a bucket list (I LOVE lists !!) on my iPhone Notes App just before officially sending in my resignation on email in the first week of November. As the year comes to an end now, I am so happy that I have managed to tick many things on my list…

  • Quit Job – check (Apr’16)
  • Get back to my fittest self (in progress)
  • Build ‘Gypsy Moon’ (in progress)
  • Complete Yoga ATTC (Advanced Teacher Training Course) – check (Feb-Mar’16)
  • Live in a Himalayan village for few weeks at a stretch – check (May-Jun’16; volunteered as project manager at an art festival ‘ShopArt ArtShop’ in Gunehar, Himachal Pradesh, India)
  • Start teaching yoga again at Sivananda Gurgaon centres – check (from Jul’16 – present)
  • Explore Ladakh for few weeks – check (Sep’16)
  • Explore North-East India (on agenda for next year)
  • Get over my fear of water or at least learn how to swim in a shallow pool – check (FINALLY!!! Jul-Aug’16; also took it to the next level by snorkelling on beaches of Thailand in Nov’16. I understand that for most people this is no big deal and rightly so, but for someone (like me) – who couldn’t even manage to get into a 2ft. swimming pool, had been disowned by 2 swimming coaches, and almost drowned in a jungle waterfall (was rescued by an American girl) – it is a HUGE achievement)
  • Learn to ride a bike/2 wheeler  check (Nov’16; also participated in All Women Bike Rally in Delhi in Dec’16, rode Royal Enfield if you please 🙂 )
  • Learn to play ukulele (soon…)
  • Indulge more in adventure sports (rafting, paragliding, snorkelling, zip line, rope course – all check; skydiving, scuba diving – to be part of future travel plans
  • Move towards minimum waste, natural and sustainable living (working on it each day, will probably write a blog on it soon)
  • Attend a short photography and/or filmmaking course (parked for now)
  • Move out of Delhi (parked for now)

This bucket list will keep evolving with time as I view it as a journey and not as a ‘next stop’.

I truly believe that when we get out of our offices, home or out of our comfort zones into nature and into the world, extraordinary things happen: our perceptions are challenged, our abilities are tested, our perspectives shift, creativity is unleashed, and we experience a deep intense understanding of self and others. Things that once seemed like insurmountable difficulties transform into incredible opportunities for personal and communal growth, development, and change.

Each day I feel more happy and surer of the decision I took a year back. My parents also understand and fully support me now. I am still not very clear on which direction all this is going to go. But I deeply trust that it will come to me. Also, the fire to do something is now burning bright as ever as I am nearing the end of my savings. 😉

For now, I am just immensely grateful for the new experiences, new places, beautiful people and the yummy food I have stumbled on in last few months. Looking forward to so so so much more!

What is something you really dream of doing in life? Are there any areas of your life where you can take action by granting yourself a pause?

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