I’ve had some good, ok and really bad new years eve nights. I wish I had known then what was wrong was my expectation. I had someone else’s idea of what it was supposed to be. Never quite turns out ok when I try to do that though.
It is the time of year where we reflect on the past year and make plans for the year to come. Recently I heard someone say “the best love story is the one we have with ourselves”. I love this and the meaning of loving our true self. Not the one I want – but person I truly am – faults and all. You know that unconditional love we receive but rarely believe about ourself? What would happen if I started to be less judgmental and critical? We all do this of course. In fact each year we make promises to change and find it doesn’t last very long. Then we feel guilty and return back too our old habits.
Often I write and speak about Fear but there is also another emotion that is also holding us back….Hope. Not that there is anything wrong with a little hope but we often identify too much hope. We get easily caught up with hope while sitting in meditation or yoga too. We want enlightenment, peace or even too master a position. We grasp for it and this creates a resistance. Then when it doesn’t come out we allow it to dictate our happiness or performance. Marketing knows that we hold onto hope as well as fear. Each ad or news article reminds us of what could happen or what we could be. We buy into it all the time.
I once heard someone say “My happiness doesn’t rely on the success or failure of this posture”. In the context of yoga postures this means that what lies past the physical body movement is a decision to let things happen and remove myself from the blame, judgement or criticism. I am not the success or failure of what happens in other words. When we practice yoga this hope can be just as dangerous as fear. We see video and pictures of someone else and want to be that or do that. What we don’t see visually is the mind’s process of doubt, examination of measuring up; am I winning or loosing.
What I’m talking about is easier said than done of course. We like to avoid the truth facing us. In yoga what we call our inner truth is called Dharma. It is our code that each of us was born with and that we can’t be anything other than who we are. When we are young we may resist this – we do things all the time and see things happen of course. If you do something long enough something of course will happen. Long term though it doesn’t last and can have a harmful effect if unhealthy or wrong. Somehow the body or mind responds and we often call it a breakdown or burnout. We didn’t want to listen to the truth often out of fear or hope.
One example of our conditioning is to examine the way plays and stories are written & designed to tap into these emotions; the format used today exists as far back as the Ancient Greek times. There are often 3 acts. The first act is where things seem to be going along fine but not great. Something is missing. The second act something happens to really shake things up or change and often there is a struggle – just want to get back to the way things were in first act. By the third act the resistance to the change settles and although different it is better than it was. Now hearing this you may agree or not but try examining TV, Movies and even real life to see if you can ID the Act. Why we often find ourselves moved because we know this is human nature.
So beyond knowing it happens now what do we do? Detachment. Not from trying, playing or involvement but from the outcome. Recognizing helps but then you can move into the allowance and investigation of the experience. Sometimes it is enough just to allow for it. Try to pause and witness it. Instead of rushing past it, surprising it – can you ID the feelings right then and there?
So why do this act of detachment? The mind is playing a tug of war with itself – split in two. We may even think we are being mindful because the mind isn’t full of our usual worry. However when we are practicing yoga or meditation and focused on the outcome we are still separated from the here and now. When we learn to be more focused on the actual experience the mind is no longer grasping and is free.
I know for me I have happened upon my Dharma and sat there thinking “of course”. I came across mine not even trying. I found myself investing a lot of my time going to college for my accounting degree, getting my CPA and 15 years in CPA firms. I came from an insecure environment growing up. I remember professors asking me about other routes but no – I was going to be an accountant and earn lots of money. Accounting is quite logical thought process to me of course. I love to solve things and organize. However I was pushing away so much, was unhappy and all along in my life I had great feelings in helping others and writing. So I took a big risk to leave it and haven’t regretted it at all.
Often though it doesn’t have to be something as big as a job or relationship change. Sometimes it is just the little day to day stresses of worry and concern that we can become more aware of. I have had times where I was between jobs and worried what will come next. I don’t know what to do or direction to take. My husband is great at reminding me that things are always ok. As I let go of being the driver and just be a passenger in life I find myself sitting back and enjoying the ride. Now I’m not saying I’m a great passenger. I’m not. But I’m able to pause and observe what is happening right then. When I’m afraid or scared I can feel a tightening in my chest that goes up to my throat and jaw. My breath is shallow and I feel sad, angry and hurt. It isn’t just one feeling. Right there though I can allow for it and with nonjudgemental awareness and ID what it is. Often that is enough to settle into the experience.
The greatest love story is the one we have with ourselves. Letting ourselves be ok just as we are right now and as we start to ID our own path, Dharma and routes, the rest starts to unfold for us.
Yoga is this for me. However the word Yoga, just like ones Dharma, is different for everyone. Instead of worrying about what it is, try letting go of the expectation and go see what feels right to you. What works for one may not for another. It will change over time as well. It may not be right for you at all as well. Just don’t avoid it from a place of fear (I can’t touch my toes) or from Hope (I want to touch my toes). I know it seems crazy but that place in the 3rd Act exists when we let go. It really can happen.