By now we’ve all probably heard about “the Great Resignation”, a term coined by Management Professor Anthony Klotz, stemming from the rising numbers of workers considering a job change as pandemic restrictions ease and companies call employees back to the office. 

recent survey revealed 41% of workers are thinking about resigning from their jobs. But why? The pandemic gave workers more free time to think about their careers, explore entrepreneurship and save more money — leading many to realise their current job was not fulfilling. Is this true for you?

I personally like to think of the ‘Great Resignation’ as one of the ways that the tendency towards a more conscious living is manifesting.

One of the first things I noticed when we went on lockdown last year was that though many of us struggled with the restrictions, others were actually quite OK with the new imposed pace. There was some sense of ease in the lack of social commitments and the forced slowing down.

For me, other than making sure home was a place I wanted to spend time in, there wasn’t much to do. I felt at ease and enthusiastic about this new time affluence allowing me to take extra care of myself and for the new invitation to reassess my life. 

The lockdown forced me, as well as many of us, to stop.

The STOP is a well known coaching acronym that stands for :

Stop whatever you're doing, just pause for a moment.

Take a deep breath, which is our anchor to the here and now.

Observe what is happening inside and outside of you.

Proceed with a new awareness.

When we pause, in a world that is more challenging and demanding than ever, we are given the opportunity to go inwards and take stock of how we really feel about the things we do, and compare them with how we think we should feel about them. 

If we allow for it, we can make space to feel what needs to be felt, to see what needs to be seen, to do what needs to be done, and to simply BE. It might be a bit uncomfortable, but this is the first step towards a conscious living. 

Change is inevitable, but it's also a choice

Of course, there’s always a choice. To do nothing about it and get distracted with some mindless phone scrolling and online shopping, or to get curious and see what’s in there for us. And I think many of us opted for the second option.

We started asking ourselves questions about our lives in general - and I dare to say that we’ve all made a change or two that might have not been foreseen - be it work, health, creativity or relationships related.

Conscious Living begins with paying enough attention to every aspect of our life, so that we move from living in #autopilot mode - or “letting life happen to us” - to living with #intent.

It’s about bringing mindfulness to our days, and taking it a step further. For it is not just the awareness that matters - it’s caring enough to act based on it and choosing with ourselves and the world around us in our mind and heart. 

Embarking on this journey towards Conscious Living not only means getting curious about why and how we do what we do but it also invites us to challenge and even change old ideas and ways of doing, with regards to our relationship with ourselves and others.

As we can only change that which we are aware of, we all deserve to revisit our priorities and definitions of success from time to time:

Living in autopilot puts us at odds with living with purpose and finding flow in our lives.

When we reconnect with our true nature, we understand that we are all One, and that unless we all thrive no-one does. We’re wired for connection and it is paramount to take care of one self and one-another if we want to have a future in this world.

Ultimately, when we learn to become comfortable with the uncomfortable, and we are at ease with making the right choice - whatever it is, as long as it feels right.

Back to the start of this post, there certainly are people resigning jobs and letting go of what no longer serves them, and there are many that are choosing to stay. Not necessarily because they haven’t looked into it, but because having weighed their options, they still find value in what they have for whatever conscious reason. How beautiful is this? 

We can get carried away by the trends and by looking at what’s wrong and missing, but being aware also means taking stock of what there is, what’s working and staying true to what feels right, and change whatever doesn’t.

To be honest, if there is a take away from this last 1.5 year, it’s that we have control over very little, and that in our daily choices lie our growth and freedom.

I took last week off to join an Ayurvedic retreat as an assistant, which meant making each participant feel welcome, and supporting with practicalities, and most importantly, holding space for whatever might come up in the different sessions. 

“Holding space” means being physically, mentally, and emotionally present for someone. It’s the process of witnessing and validating someone else's emotional state while simultaneously being present to your own.

18 women showed up individually - there were only a couple of friends. All willing to dive in and connect, yet they seemed somewhat reserved, observing and following the unwritten rules of engagement.

Two days in, during one of the talks, one strong, assertive lady dared to open up and shared a concern about what was going on in her life. In such a setting, she felt safe to share what hurt and her daily struggle. Her vulnerability shifted the energy in the room.
What unfolded was beautiful and changed the whole experience of the retreat - IMHO what everyone was really seeking: liberation, mutual respect, kinship, compassion, strength, community.

When we allow ourselves to be seen for who we really are, we enable the same for others. And the connection becomes real, human. No veils, no need for perfection. Just real people talking about real life stuff. 
By doing so, we can realise we’re not alone, and that it’s part of our human nature to be compassionate and supportive of others - even if it’s just by holding space.

All had their own goals and expectations: more time for themselves, spending time with nature, and learning about Ayurveda.
Yet all left with something much more deeper and meaningful: the reconnection with themselves, the knowing of being part of something bigger and of course, tools to return to daily life. 

I love retreats, but also know that we can find such moments in our daily lives. Let’s make sure we hold the space for one another, that we see each other and that whenever we ask a simple “How are you?”, we care enough to wait for an answer.

“ Tell me about your daily routine, and I’ll tell you how healthy you feel. Tell me when you eat, and I’ll tell you if it is easy or difficult for you to maintain your weight. Tell me when you turn off your television or computer at night, and I’ll tell you how sensitive you are to stress. Tell me when you fall asleep, and I’ll tell you whether you need coffee to power your way through the afternoon, or whether you snap at your loved ones at the end of a long day when you wanted to be patient”. By Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar 

If I asked you the time at any given moment, you’re very likely to give me quite an accurate answer; one that will probably be based on what you just did or what you need to do next. Am I right?

Because of our busy schedules, most of us are hyper-aware of the time all day: an alarm wakes us up, our morning routine, followed by deadlines, zoom calls, then dinner, putting the kids to bed, etc. 

On top of this, we spend most of our time in climate and light controlled environments that hijack our body’s natural ability to self-regulate. This creates or exacerbates our most common physical complaints. 

The good news is that there is a different kind of clock within our body which rules its every single function. This natural rhythm, known as the Circadian Rhythm, operates on a nearly 24hour cycle and uses available natural light to coordinate all of its systems.

The Circadian Rhythm directs the body’s systems to do different things depending on the time of day or night. Think: digestion, sleep, regulation of blood pressure, metabolism, hormone production, body temperature and cellular repair. 

This is why we experience different things throughout the day: our deepest sleep cycle at 2am, strongest digestion by noon, release of melatonin around 9pm to start winding down, and so on.

In order to avoid being at odds with our body’s needs, we should try to align our schedules to what our body is naturally equipped to do throughout the day. 

Ayurveda, the oldest known medical system, provides an optimal daily routine that helps us live in tune with nature so that we can experience our natural state of health and well-being. According to it, the days are split in 6 phases (2 cycles of 3 phases each), which correspond to the 3 Doshas (energies) and carry their same qualities. 

Ayurveda understands that everything (including us!), is made up of a unique ratio of Elements: Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. At every level of life - from seasons, age, to time of the day -  these 5 Elements (Pancha Mahabhutas) are present. 

Doshas are the three vital energies that relate to the specific combinations of these Elements, giving each their own qualities and characteristics, and governing certain functions.

For example, this means eating our largest meal of the day at noon, when the Pitta principle is strongest and our digestive fire (agni), the most powerful. 

But this idea also extends beyond our physiological function. We can use this inner clock to leverage our ability to focus and to tap into our creativity at the most convenient times of the day. 

So, how can we optimise our Workday according to this?

6 –10 a.m. (Kapha Energy)

This is a good time for activities that need mental endurance and a steady mind. The stability and structure of Kapha is ideal for reading long reports, preparing a presentation, or responding to emails that need a thoughtful reply. 

10 a.m.–2 p.m. (Pitta Energy)

Time for transformation and mental assertiveness thanks to Pitta’s sharpness. Problem solving, logic and decision making. Our digestive fire is at its peak, also for mental activities. Prioritise planning, strategising and organising. 

2–6 p.m. (Vata Energy) 

This is our most creative time of the day. Vata rules movement, is light and mobile, and is  related to our vital life force. Carve out this time to connect with others, hold meetings, brainstorming, or team building.

Though these might sound like a mouthful for those unfamiliar with an Ayurvedic Lifestyle, the important thing is to remember that we are meant to live in tune with these cycles rather than fighting against them. 

Adjusting your work (and daily) routine to the Circadian rhythm, can do wonders for achieving more balance in your life and feeling successful and productive throughout your day!

I know how it feels, and it’s not fun. Your mind goes a 100km/hour rushing from thought to thought, ruminating, worrying, making plans, thinking that you should go back to sleep because in a few hours your day begins and you’ll be so tired that you won’t be able to pass midday without a few coffees...

What if I told you there’s an explanation for it, which also means there’s a possible workaround?

It starts with understanding the circadian rhythm, our internal clock that operates on a nearly 24hour cycle and uses available natural light to coordinate all of its systems.

Ayurveda understands the day as 2 cycles of 3 phases each, which correlate to one of the doshas. Doshas being bioenergies made up of a combination of two of the 5 Great Elements - Space-Air-Fire-Water-Earth, and carrying their corresponding qualities. 

From an Ayurvedic perspective, the doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha predominate at different times of life, different seasons and different times of the day.

Ayurveda Clock
Ayurvedic clock

These times vary slightly depending on location, time of year and when the sunrises and sets. However, this is a good general guide.

The period between 2am and 6am is the VATA time of the night.

Vata governs body movement, flexibility, mental activities, etc and is the combination of the elements of Space and Air. As such, it has the qualities of movement, agility, change, lightness, cold, etc.

When you wake up at this time, you are experiencing these qualities in your body and mind, hence your raging thoughts. 

Let me bring the point even closer home by sharing another example.

Has it ever happened to you that you might wake up naturally around 6am feeling energised but if you go back to sleep until 8 am you wake up feeling groggy? Or have you heard about the 5am club? It’s all for the same reason...

Is the quality of your sleep compromised if you eat a heavy meal at dinner, watch the news or have an agitated discussion before bed? I’m guessing it is. 

Then, it stands to reason that it all starts with what you do the day before: at what time you get up, when you have your bigger meal and your last one, at what time you go to bed and what you do before that has an impact on your quality of sleep.

So, the good news is that the solution might just mean you need a few changes in your daily routine.

Though we sometimes forget it, we are of nature, and we should try to align our schedules to what our body is naturally equipped to do throughout the day and night. 

An ideal routine according to our circadian rhythm would look something like this: 

Not even close? Do not panic - we’re going for realistic, not ideal.

I know this might look quite far from your current bedtime routine so I’d like to introduce the concept of atomic habits: small, daily, achievable and consistent changes that lead to great results over time.

If you want to have a restful night, try implementing these sleep hygiene practices gradually. 

These should all promote a sound sleep throughout the night.  

If you do wake up...

Ayurveda Clock
Try to resist picking up your phone to scroll through social media. 

Try to resist picking up your phone to scroll through social media. 

Avoid watching the clock as well, as soon as you do, you might start worrying about having to get up in another three hours - anxiety kicks in and prevents you from being able to fall asleep.

Instead, try practicing a 4,7,8 breathing technique (pranayama) that is very relaxing - it’s very simple and once you learn it, there’s no need to grab your phone.

If you can’t get back to sleep, maybe even try getting up and enjoying the quietness and energy of the early morning hours. It’s actually a great time to meditate, journal or engage in light exercise. You might actually realise how much you like it!

If this resonates with you, I’d encourage you to try adjusting your schedule one step at a time and I’d love to hear how it went.

If it doesn’t, please look around - we all have a friend who can use this advice. 

Please share this article so we can make this world a more rested one, one sleep at a time.

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