By Graham Norris, Be Meditation Teacher

“I just can’t get going in the morning.” A lot of people I’ve talked to recently seem to have lost their mojo. Previously, they strode confidently into the office first thing and got straight to work. Now, even if they’re back in the office, and particularly if they’re not, getting into gear seems much more of a challenge than it used to be.

Superficially, there might seem to be some obvious reasons for the lack of vigor. The routine that clearly signalled the start of the working day is now mostly absent. The environment at home was also designed for rest and recreation, rather than production, and even if the kids are back at school, the aura of the home is still more of play than work.

Yet at a deeper level, there are more questions than answers. Even if someone still has a job, economic uncertainty not only continues to threaten their job security, but is also disrupting business plans. Whatever project you have passionately thrown yourself into might be canned tomorrow – and you might be next.

And with all that hard-earned money, we used to make our own plans to meet friends and go on vacation. Now, vacations are difficult to plan for, and circles of social connections have shrunk dramatically. There is much less to look forward to.

At the heart of the matter, cutting across life and work, is our perspective of what’s important. We used to think the Powerpoint presentation we’re working on was important, but in the context of working through a pandemic, it could seem somewhat trivial. Fear of sickness and death overshadows everything.

The result is that our minds, untethered to the well-established rituals of life, continually ask: What’s the point?

Setting a Direction

There are two types of motivators: intrinsic and extrinsic. Extrinsic motivators are those things such as power, fame and fortune, which under normal circumstance are what we hanker for and yet now seem kind of meaningless. Intrinsic motivators are such things as autonomy over how we work, a sense of continuous improvement and, most importantly, purposei. This sense of purpose derives from our values, and the challenge we are increasingly facing is to clarify our values.

What does this have to do with meditation? When we focus on something, we get to understand it more clearly. If you really pay attention to the pattern on a shirt, or a piece of music, or the taste of a certain wine, you will discover more detail about it. The same is true of our actions and the reasons behind them.

By strengthening the ability to concentrate, we can become more attuned to what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. If we are excited by the prospect of doing something, we
should reflect on the reasons for it. Conversely, if some activity is an unexpected drag, we need to consider whether this activity aligns with our values.

Our values are simply what’s important to us. But what’s important to us may not be as important as we thought it was, or not important to us anymore. More than ever, the current uncertainty is asking us to reassess what’s important, and in some cases forcing us to create new meaning for ourselves.

This month in my class, Brain Training for Meditation Skeptics, we are looking more closely at what motivates us, how to clarify what’s important to us, and how to take action in moving toward our goals.

Join me every Tuesday and Thursday at 9:15am Pacific Time (12:15pm Eastern; 5:15pm UK; 9:45pm India Standard).