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The Root Cause of Busyness

Life is increasingly complicated and stressful. Our busy schedules have us running around from place to place. Our desire to be known, to accomplish, and to make ends meet, has us sacrificing our personal values and spiritual evolution.


My research and contemplations to explore my own overwhelm and busyness, led me to uncover the dark reality of our modern lifestyles. It simultaneously brought me back to the yogic wisdoms and practices I have come to intimately know and love.


Let me begin by sharing information I found impactful when investigating the root causes of busyness.

 

Busyness is related to self-worth

Research shows that busyness may be heavily connected to a person's self-worth, as well as how others view their social status [1]. For example, the recent shift in our perception of status is now tied to busyness. It used to be that our social standing was related to our income and the labels we could afford. But now, status is being perceived by how much we are needed, how busy we are with work, and how much leisure time we're willing to sacrifice or are able to "afford".


Busyness as a way of numbing out

In addition, staying busy can also be a way of avoiding, or numbing out to painful feelings, uncomfortable emotions, and challenging situations. It's falsely believed that if we remain busy, we can keep sweeping these things under the rug. However, what happens is that we eventually trip over the accumulattion, and are forced to face whatever we are trying desperately to avoid. This has become one of the main benefits of my eco yoga retreats, taking intentional time to process the unprocessed.


Busyness as a form of addiction

On top of all these reasons, we are also less productive than before, elongating our task list. Modern technology has wrecked havoc on our mental health, including our ability to focus and concentrate. So even though we may be juggling a lot of responsibilities, it doesn't mean we are actually being productive in managing them. Often times our lack of concentration makes us less productive, while increasing our mental stress. This pressurized cycle, keeps the nervous system in a state of fight-flight-freeze, where we can easily become addicted to the adrenaline rush.


7 Hypotheses for Why we are so Busy

Further into my research, I ran across an amazing article by Kyle Kowalski, where he questions "Are we actually busier than ever before? Or, do we just feel busier? Has our relationship with time changed?" As Kyle so thoughtfully articulated in his own research and contemplations, there are several possible reasons why we are so busy today. [2]



And this is just the beginning of what I was able to uncover. I could literally keep going, but for the sake of time, I will hold here and begin to focus on how yogic philosophy could be a solution to our busyness obsession.

 

So how do we reduce our busyness? Here's 3 simple tips:


Learn how the Mind Works

First of all, we need to understand the inner workings of the mind. Once we understand the basic functions of the mind and how it works from a yogic lens, we can begin to see it for what it is, and can then appropriately respond. What is the mind? It depends on who you ask. According to Advaita Vedanta, the mind is that which stands between you and God, or you and inner peace. It is also said to be ever-changing, and a reflection of the energies that we embody. That means the mind is energy, memories, and imagination. It is not who you are, nor is it you. There's a lot more depth to this topic of course, so here's a simple summarization. You are not the mind.


Remember that Time is a Construct of the Mind

Yogic teachings also share that time can only exist in the mind, and it functions in two linear directions; either in the past or in the future. When we are fully present to the moment, there are no thoughts. Therefore, when going about your day, try to be as mindful and intentional as possible. This will give the sensation that time is slowing down, when really you are just focusing your awareness on the present moment, which it turn offers you a greater sense of inner peace. This leads to our final tip, develop concentration.


Improve Your Concentration + Develop Devotion

Reflect on what it feels like when you have too many things going on in your mind. When you feel overwhelmed with concern, thoughts, or emotions. It doesn't feel good does it? This is one of the main teachings from sage Patanjali in his Raja Yoga Sutras. He explains to us that when we are overwhelmed with thought waves, called vrittis in Sanskrit, we lose our ability to sense the Eternal Peace of who we are. We lose connection with the Pure Consciousness which is the fabric of Life.


By improving our ability to concentrate, we begin to calm the mind. When the mind is calm, we are better able to sense the inner peace, and Truth, of who we are. There are of course various yogic methods and paths to do this, but here is a brief list that may help you: mono-tasking, mantra chanting, pranayama, asana, spending time in nature, gratitude practices, and being intentional in how you show up in the world. Being intentional cultivates reverence, and devotion is one of the main practices that also helps to calm the mind.

 

Final Thoughts

Each of these three suggestions are obviously huge topics in their own right, and I could spend an entire year teaching on each one. The goal of this article is to give you clear objectives and areas of study that can greatly benefit you, and those who choose to study with you.


I guess what I want to leave you with is this... that in my exploration into the scientific and socials reasons as to why we humans are so incredibly busy today, I learned it all seems to stem from one main source, our ego. Our inherent desire to be seen, to be known, and to avoid that which is uncomfortable.

Why do I believe this is happening? Well, I have a few of my own theories, and here's my synopsis...


We have reduced our life to mindless actions. We have removed the sacredness of life, and lost sight of how precious it is to have a human birth. We have chosen, and been encouraged by industry, to numb out through screen time. We've been encouraged in our addictions and become divided through beliefs.


Thankfully, through the grace and goodness that still prevails in the world, there are many people who are waking up to the negative effects of busyness. There are many who are brining awareness to the concepts of oneness, reciprocity, gratitude and reverence. By adopting these more sattvic qualities, we are given a silent invitation to connect to the present moment and surrender any burdens we may be carrying. All this helps to elevate the root cause of busyness, that little word called ego.


 

If you are looking to learn more about how the mind functions, and ways that you can begin to mitigate the chaos within your mental-sphere, join me for my upcoming Sacred Series "How the Mind Works" which launches September 6, 2022. These sessions are recorded if you are unable to attend live.


 


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