My favourite synonym for the word motivation is energy. To be motivated is to feel the energy flowing through you; to lack motivation or to be de-motivated is have no energy to undertake the task in hand. Therefore it is important if we wish to be highly motivated ourselves not only to be choosy in what we agree to do, but also to find ways and activities that explicitly boost our energy. For different people this will be different things.
For a number of years now I have planned each year with usually five weekends where I go away on a retreat of some sort or another. I have done one silent retreat, and several have involved meditation. Last weekend I returned from a weekend away at the Ammerdown Centre near Radstock. (https://www.ammerdown.org/) For those who have not experienced it, I strongly recommend you check out what it has to offer.
Specifically, I was on a course called Breath of Life, run by a Catholic priest from Ireland, Father Louis Hughes OP. (https://www.bodymindmeditation.ie/) A remarkable man, and as modest, I felt, as he was remarkable. He took us through some yoga, but more importantly through his Christo-centric version of meditation, and his focus on the breath and the breathing.
Of course we know from Tai Chi, Chi Gung, Yoga and other disciplines just how important the breath is in terms of our health and energy. I myself have spent several years developing my breathing in one way or another. Truly I can say that that mere focus has energized and sustained my health when perhaps otherwise I would have flagged.
But Father Louis had a view on the breath that was emphatically not usual: basically, we all needed to stop breathing! That’s right – stop breathing. Or more accurately, stop trying to control the breathing the way we try to control everything else in our life; allow yourself to ‘be breathe-ed’. Allow yourself to be breathe-ed. The Prana, or the Chi, was breathing through us, and we were responding to it, not the other way round.
This was really a radical way of thinking about it, and it tied in neatly with the ‘Power of Now’ ideas that are currently prevalent: energy, insight, power are here available if we can allow them to be. And the start of this allowing them is in the breath – it is too easy to want to take to control of the breath and beat it like we beat our muscles when we exercise.
So for me I came away feeling seriously challenged: wanting outcomes, desiring results, and yet realizing that sometimes I try too hard. Simply, I need to be more breathe-ed. Over the next unspecified period of time, therefore, I am going to try to allow this process to happen, and to see what happens to my energy levels – and my motivation!