The Job of Your Life with Karen Schaffer

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Posts Tagged ‘gunas’

Recognizing Stagnation and How To Shift It

Posted by Karen on February 17, 2009

Someone mentioned to me the other day that while reading “Now, Discover Your Strengths” she found the line “input without output leads to stagnation”. That captured my imagination immediately, because the opposite could also easily be true: output without input leads to stagnation.

What is stagnation? And what’s with all the A/V club input/output metaphors?

Let’s start with the word “stagnation“. Stagnation is the opposite of growing. Stagnation has this sort of “stinky” connotation- a green film of algae coating a still pond on a windless day. Stagnation in people means to me that feeling when you start to get that feeling of dull and dreariness to your being. That you are slow and sludgy or that you are feeling less than inspired by yourself.

Input without Output

My client’s example was that she feels stagnate when she spends lots of time reading and getting new insights and ideas, but instead of sharing them she lies on the couch. That’s when we take in, and in, and in, but we don’t let what we have percolating out into the world. Sometimes it’s important to give yourself time to percolate unmolested by the world’s challenges, but at a certain point what are you learning it for if you can’t apply it, test it, see it in action? The ideas and insights stagnate without use.

Output without Input

My example here is teaching yoga. I am always in love with my yoga, but there are times I have gone too long without new “input” – that is either new postures, new variations on postures, new bursts of creativity in movement and flow or conversely no new input in the insights of yoga – new explorations of how to describe the movement of energy or meditations or themes that carry through the yoga. The class feels stuck – like the class was still good but not exactly inspired or revelatory.

Interestingly, in both cases what’s “off” is the balance between what goes in and what comes out.

If you are taking in and taking in and taking in, but allowing no space for it to be “out” in the world – either space for you to let it bubble out (some people, myself included, can “over-stimulate” – try and read and take in too much, without allowing time between each new to process and let new insights reveal) OR in sharing it in such a way that you get new energy and purpose from the sharing.

If you are giving out too much without nourishing the core, without giving yourself time to find new sources of input – a book, a course, an idea, a workshop, a conversation with someone in your field – you may find yourself going slowly stale.

 Stagnation is part of the cycle…the Indians call it tamas one of the three gunas. While no one likes feeling it, it’s a reminder from yourself that it is time to get out there and either feed yourself or feed the world with yourself.

If you are feeling stagnation, start with this question…is it your input or your output that needs adjusting?

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