Find the Buddha, Kill the Buddha
“If you meet the Buddha, kill him.”– Zen Master Linji
Not literally, obviously.
On the path to enlightenment, through study, meditation, yoga, prayer, etc., you will meet many figures who will tell you that they know all of the answers. They will tell you what is “wrong” with you, and how they can fix you. And you may surrender your power to them out of respect and humility, hoping, with best intentions, to evolve.
This proverb advises that as soon as you “meet the Buddha,” or rather, “see enlightenment,” your conception is wrong, and you must destroy whatever image you see, and continue on your own journey.
This is an excerpt from my new book, “Drunk Yoga: 50 Wine & Yoga Poses to Lift Your Spirit(s).” Very much like the practice of yoga, there is no “one size fits all” teacher. In fact, I’ve learned from personal experience how to identify a teacher. Sometimes you learn from their teachings, sometimes you learn because of their teachings, and sometimes, you simply learn in spite of them.
Let me walk you through the differences.
You’re at the beginning of your yoga journey, and it’s just you and the mat. You know nothing, and you’re at the mercy of your yoga teacher’s instructions. They instruct, you obey. Repeat. Refine. Relearn. At the very least, you’ll learn the basics of an asana practice. At best, you’ll not only dive deeply into your body’s relationship to time and space such that your alignment, breathing, and awareness of both unify, but your collective experiences of this hard and greuling practice will also lead you to the ultimate understanding that you are not your mind--you are nothing but pure consciousness. That nothing is happening to you. Things are only happening in your awareness of them. And, with this understanding, you realize you are ultimately your life’s storyteller. The hero of your journey.
Cue Joseph Campbell quote: “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” Your first yoga teacher should lead you into the cave. Once you’ve found the treasure...
...you start to develop your own insights. And if you continue traversing through the cave, into the darkness, bound for light, you will inevitably surpass your teacher’s teachings.
If you stick around too long out of stubbornness or perhaps loyalty, you’ll realize, perhaps too late, that all that glimmers isn’t gold. When you know this--that you are a yogi with your own inner compass--you start to see clearly your teacher’s humanness. Their faults and all of their glory. This may make you feel defeated, and angry. Why can’t they be who you want them to be? Why can’t they teach you something new? Something more? Something better? Now’s the time for you to put everything you’ve learned in your practice about compassion, non-judgment and letting go of expectations to practical use. Because this is where you can learn the most.
My first yoga teacher was a real hard-ass--to put it lightly. He was militaristic in his teaching style, and the practice was punishingly challenging. Beyond the physical aspect of his lessons, if he caught me being my own flavor of humanness, he’d jab, “Stay present. Be conscious. Let go of attachment. Just trust me.” At first I was grateful he seemed invested enough in my “path to awakening,” that he would take the time to lecture me, I mean enlighten me, that the reason I made noise when I walked on the floor was because I wasn’t “conscious enough” yet. ...Which soon led to, “You need to lend me $5000 to work on your trust issues...believe me...I can help you…be present...” which was followed by some serious Harvey Weinstein-esque propositioning that’s a blog for another time. It didn’t take long for me to realize that his behavior was abusive. But, after time and distance, I also realized that his constant criticism of others (masked as spiritual teaching) was, in part, simply an expression of his own inner demons. (An excuse? No. A reason? Perhaps.)
It was because of his abuse that I learned the importance of loving myself in order to be an authentic teacher for others.
In spite of.
Not to be dramatic, but this one’s the best. You’ve traveled long and far, and you’ve cleaned up after your pity party (...the one you threw for yourself when you realized that you are your own best teacher and life is hard and you’ve gotta, for the most part, walk it alone...)Good news. Now that you know no one else is responsible for your happiness, you can enjoy an array of different teachers, a smorgasbord, if you will, and value their lessons for what they are. You’ve developed such a strong relationship to the unity of your mind, spirit, skin and bones that even if you take a rather terribly executed yoga class from a teacher you just don’t jive with, you’ll glean insight from your own experience anyway that’ll only serve to polish a new perspective.
No matter the teacher, learn from them, because of them, and through your own personal acumen, even in spite of them.
“Not to get all “yoga teacher” on you here, but I want to tell you that you are your own best teacher. As you tread your spiritual path, you ought to learn from as many instructors, sages, wise old men, wise young men, and even wiser women.
Your life is yours to live, and your identity is yours to claim. To surrender your power to a self-proclaimed guru in the name of spiritual devotion is disrespectful to the very existence you’ve earned by being alive in a body. The best way to honor your spirit is to let go of any idea that you are “doing life wrong,” while others are “doing it right.” You are in exactly the right place, at exactly the right time, under exactly the right circumstances. (Otherwise, you would be somewhere else, and someone else, entirely, emmaright?)”
If you'd like more insights on carving out your unique path in life, becoming your own teacher and using yoga as a practice for both, I've got something special for you. In just a few weeks the Drunk Yoga book is being released where you'll find a collection of drunk yoga poses and philosophies to create your own containers for joy. You can pre-order now at : https://www.amazon.com/Drunk-Yoga-Wine-Poses-Spirit/dp/1510740821
If you are a freelancer juggling 3+ career paths while maintaining numerous streams of income, congratulations! YOU are a multi-preneur. But, giving your all to several pursuits can be exhausting. So, I've compiled a simple list of five techniques that will help you succeed at your endeavor(s) more quickly.
Before being the Founder/CEO of Drunk Yoga became my full-time gig, I, too, was an entrepreneur...nay, multi-preneur, and darn proud of it. Entrepreneurship/multi-preneurship are great ways to stay active and earn a living (or several). Still, the subsequent responsibility can often be overwhelming to time-manage. I’ve been an multi-preneur for years--building my "Eli Walker" brand through both of my companies--Divine Your Story and Drunk Yoga--while maintaining a career in acting in New York City, an at-home voiceover business, and a profession in teaching yoga...among other pursuits. I know how great it feels to be accomplished in a number of arenas, and to feel financially secure as a freelancer, knowing that I have checks coming in from several sources. However, being your own boss can have its pitfalls. I’ve had to learn how to be my own "Eli Walker" supervisor, secretary, accountant, strategist, marketing consultant...the list goes on. Through trial and error (...okay, lots of error), I have learned how to hold myself accountable for deadlines, set attainable goals to support my own growth, and most importantly, manage my time and energy wisely so that I can continue to pursue all of my passions without sacrificing my health and relationships.
Here’s a list of 5 tips I’ve learned from personal experience (and by experience I mean mistakes) about how to properly time-manage wisely in order to ensure success as an entrepreneur/multi-preneur:
1. Learn to Love "To-Do" Lists
Not big on making “to-do” lists? Well, you must learn to love them. Manually or electronically writing daily to-do lists, as well as weekly deadlines and monthly goals have helped me stay on top of my game in each of my professional pursuits. It has also helped me to prioritize tasks so I don’t save anything until the last minute. As a multi-preneur, procrastination leads to unnecessary stress that has a snowball effect, causing all areas of one's life to suffer. I write a list of monthly goals, including the amount of money I’d like to earn in each of my respective career endeavors, and post it on my refrigerator. Much like a vision board, seeing my goals each day has helped me bring them to fruition! Boomerang--have you heard of it? It’s an application you can download for Gmail that allows you to schedule when you’d like to send your emails. So, if you know you need to take some time to write an important email to a client, you can dedicate your after-hours to the task, and using Boomerang, schedule it to send during appropriate business hours.
2. Stay Active on Social Media
Stay active on social media. Perception is reality. I book work regularly for yoga, acting, nutrition consulting, and voice over from strategically posting about my work on social media. Check out the Instagram app called Later. It allows you to create your posts and then schedule them for when you’d like to post them. Then, it will alert you when it’s time to post, and all you have to do is open Instagram on your phone and click “paste.” This is a great time-management tool, because it limits your time on social media (we all know Instagram can be a time-sucker!), and allows you to spend ample time creating “likable” posts when you have the time to dedicate to it. You can also work on your social media posts on the go--which is a great way to make effective use of your time waiting in traffic, or on the subway. My best advice as it relates to social media use: develop an online “voice” that’s intelligent, positive and light-hearted, and post regularly. Avoid posting anything negative. Social media is an entrepreneur and multi-preneur’s best marketing tool. Advertise yourself as someone who is wildly popular and successful so that your followers view you as someone they’d want to work with. Feel free to check out my accounts: @eliwalkernyc , @divineyourstory and @dodrunkyoga for examples on to how to keep your personal account positive but also “promotional,” and your business account “on brand.”
3. Maintain Integrity
Bring integrity to your work. Always. No exceptions. If you allow yourself to become disorganized and anxious, it will show in your work with clients. Let your first priority be providing great customer service in everything you do. How do you anything is how you do everything. This means that it is your responsibility to make sure you have the time and energy to produce your best quality work for every project, no matter what. No job is too small to give it 100%. You never know what connections you’ll make as a result, and the new opportunities that could arise as a result in the future.
4. Communication is Key
Be an exceptional communicator. Take extra time to respond thoughtfully in your electronic correspondence, and likewise, respond promptly. This is an easy-to-manage way to make sure your clients know you’re on top of your game. A good practice as a freelancer is to respond immediately to every email and phone call you receive from a potential customer, even if it’s simply to say, “Thanks for the message! I’ve received this and I’ll respond with more details when I get back to my desk.” Radio silence makes busy clients feel ignored, and they’ll believe you are unreliable, making your chances of getting rehired by them for future business slim. Like any industry, success in multi-preneurship requires positive working relationships.
5. Don't Be a Workaholic!
Balance. Don’t be a workaholic! Self-care is key to success. You can only be as “able” as you are “stable.” Depriving yourself of sleep, fun, relaxation and nourishing food may give you the extra time you need to earn more dollars in the short term, but your health and happiness will suffer in the long run, and as a result, so will your business. Find joy in your work by having a rich, full life outside of your business endeavors. I mean, what’s the point of being your own boss if you can’t enjoy it? The best way to time manage home and work-life balance is to create healthy boundaries. If you work from home, be clear with yourself about when your work day will start and end. Change out of your pajamas and into your “work clothes” --dress for success (even if the only living being who will see you that day is your goldfish). Create a workspace that is separate from your recreation space, or your meditation space, etc. Also, decide when you’ll be finished with work; whether it’s after you finish a deadline, or at the same hour each day, and hold yourself accountable to that deal you’ve made with yourself. Then, develop an after-work ritual. Whether it’s going for a run, happy hour with friends, or just taking a nap. Healthy boundaries help you self-identify, and give you the foundation you need to rise to your highest potential!
If after reading this you realize that you've, in fact, been working too hard, and could use a little uplifting, check out one of my Drunk Yoga classes in New York City every Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday. Sign up HERE to unwind and have some "balanced" fun. I'd love to see you there!
...Need even more of an escape than yoga with wine? Sign up for my next Divine Your Story retreat to Bali, January 9-16th, 2019 at Jeda Villa for some cleansing introspection and an opportunity to rewrite your life story in a more joyful direction.