When people ask me how long I thought about leaving my job before I actually did it, I joke and say, “well, I was there for three years, so about two and a half?” Which is partially comedic, but actually quite true.
Flashback to ten months earlier: I was taking the Yoga Tune Up® Level 1 Teacher Training at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. As soon as I got there I set the intention that I would use my phone and the internet on my laptop only one time per day. I wanted to get back to myself and my body and to using my free time in a natural, non-electronically prescribed way, and see what came up.
Ahhhhh… sighed my brain and my body as I got to relax into a deep state of just being: learning, absorbing, metabolizing, and pushing myself to do things a little bit outside my comfort zone.
At the end of the training, I felt a deep sadness at the thought of having to leave. I didn’t want to break the spell and step out of the magic bubble of real human connection and limited technology that I had created for myself within this magical place. I was having lunch with total strangers! The last time that happened was at summer camp… as a camper. I spent my free time walking in meditation in the zen garden.
The last thing I wanted to do was go back to Seattle and slip back into my autopilot routine of commuting, sitting at work, checking email constantly and having surface level “water cooler” conversations that lacked the depth that came so naturally at Kripalu.
Finding a New Sense of Meaning
A new friend I met in the training gave me a ride to a small Massachusetts town on the border of Vermont, and I sat in a coffee shop of the edge of this bubble, trying to draw out the feeling of Kripalu a little longer. I remember deeply enjoying myself, bantering with the baristas, and settling at a high top table with a view out the window into the pouring rain.
I sat there, so content with my decaf coffee, watching the traffic lights change and the passersby run across the street, doing nothing, but feeling so content and so full. Wouldn’t it be nice to do this everyday? I thought, and my brain happily produced an image of me doing the same thing in Seattle: sitting at a cafe, watching people walk by in the rain.
But I realized, it’s not the act of doing this, but rather the state of contentedness and calmness I feel while doing it. I felt full and whole from this transformative experience, from the non-shallow conversation and connections that were made, and from the gratitude I had for the generosity of my new friend to give me a ride completely out of his way. Human connection.
What I was seeking in my everyday life was this calm, content feeling while doing nothing. But that feeling felt inaccessible to me at home because of my corporate job — working in a corporate setting was the exact antithesis to feeling the quiet contentedness I felt in that coffeeshop, after seven days removed from my usual world, immersed in a subject that I was fascinated by.
The Body Knows When It’s Time to Go
About ten months later, I mustered the courage, pulled the trigger, and left my job. Finally, after intentional planning, I officially made the decision and put in my two weeks notice. Immediately after, I sensed my body release tension it had been holding onto. It felt like a big, much needed yawn that was fully expressed, instead of being stifled. The relief!
There is a quote by Victoria Erickson about deciding. She says, “When you finally decide, the fog will lift, the clearing will open toward a new lens and landscape. Deciding paves way for fresh space to pour through.” This is why I think my leaving my job was a grand gesture of self-care. It was symbolic: I finally decided to put my feelings and the messages that my body had been sending me for years ahead of my worries and fears of losing the stability and safety that comes with having a steady paycheck.
I finally decided that I was worth listening to. I was finally honoring my intuition and putting myself first. To me, this is the definition of self-care. This decision has created space for me to wander aimlessly, literally and figuratively, and contemplate what it is I want to do with this one life of mine.
I am not a proponent of everyone quitting their job tomorrow in the name of self-care. But I am offering the permission to look at the messages your body is telling you that you may be stifling, and give yourself permission to listen. To identify the root feelings and the deep messages your body is trying to convey to you. And, if it feels right, honor them and yourself, as your body knows what is best.
Be sure to read next week’s post for some specific techniques you can practice to help you tune in to your own instincts and build courage for a big life decision…
Curious about the Level 1 Certification Course that Erin took? Watch this video for more information.