Feeling Binary

Since graduating, I’ve worked in various corporate sales roles which typically feels like it shouldn’t go with yoga and all of the ideas that come with it. If anything though, the two have complimented each other.

Practicing Ashtanga yoga and reading different spiritual texts has taught me to expect the unexpected, give yourself honesty and have faith in yourself and your abilities. Working in sales in a corporate environment has taught me resilience, what real effort is and how you cope with pressure. Of course here, I’m making both sound like a delight all the time and so in the spirit of being real, neither are! 

After a very stressful week with some very unexpected results, my manager said something to me that resonated; “sales people are binary - you do your work, and you expect the equivalent in rewards”. I had always thought of myself as someone who isn’t so black and white but rather as someone who actively works on being open and adaptive. This ideal was completely challenged this week! 

The unexpected results at work threw all of my plans out of the window and shook me up. As I’m sure most people’s do, my mind started spiralling out of control thinking of all the different possibilities this change meant. All the good, all the bad, and the very many scary potentials were circling around in my head making me feel lost and full of doubt. 

This sort of feeling has arisen many a time during my yoga practice over the years. The days where I can suddenly, like magic, get into a certain asana (posture) have made me feel invincible, full of confidence and elated. Equally, those days where I can’t even seem to touch my toes or get into that asana I could just yesterday, make me feel like I’ve been silly to think I’m that capable, that the rest of my practice is going to be utterly awful and that I should just stop and give up entirely.  

What the lessons of yoga and Buddhism have really highlighted to me, and something that I have to remind myself of on a daily basis, is non-attachment and impermanence. In both work and in yoga, or any other passions you have, it’s quite honestly really ridiculous to believe the good won’t turn into bad and more importantly, the bad won’t turn into good. We are not in a world where only two options co-exist and don’t overlap, or where change doesn’t happen. We change on a daily, even hourly basis, in our opinions, ideas and feelings. We are susceptible to different degrees of persuasion and influence from the outside world which I don’t believe is a bad thing. To me, hearing and exploring other things means you can then form your very own opinion of the world and become closer to your true self.

During those dark (or light) moments though, it’s really difficult to remember and believe that things will change. You sort of dwell in it and can’t see the other side no matter who is advising or talking to you; you become stuck in a little binary bubble. As every day is an emotional school day, this week has reinforced the message of impermanence and the importance of non-attachment. It also highlighted all of those positive attributes yoga has instilled in me; honesty and faith. 

Have a plan but be flexible, take the good with the bad and do what is in your own control to make the best of the situation. Hint: more often than not, this is your own action and own response internally and externally, which in some situations may even be to do nothing.