We have all created escape routes, avenues to quickly access in times of uneasiness. Facebook, twitter, daydreaming, yelling, eating, and drinking are all examples of activities we use to get ourselves (if only for a moment) out of our current situation. Doing this is a great disservice to ourselves. The more you escape the more you are going to be confronted with what you are trying to escape from. Life events (even the most minute) are not arbitrary. Every experience you have is an opportunity to learn and grow, to evolve into a greater being. Wherever you find yourself know that there is a lesson for you there, there is something just for you that must be learned in order for you to move on. Distracting yourself from an experience only prolongs the suffering you endure. Imagine life as a horizontal track and every experience presents itself as a set of stairs to a track above the one you’re on. If you have the experience and learn the lesson then you get to climb the stairs to the next track. However; if you choose to escape the experience by means of whatever distraction you’ve chosen then you will continue on the same horizontal track until the next set of stairs appears when you will again be presented with the choice of learning and moving on or staying and then being faced with the same situation again and again until you decide to fully go through it. The choice is yours, where do you want to be tomorrow? next week? month? year? ten years?
We all want friendship, love, acceptance, kindness, and understanding from others. In fact, when we don’t get it we are told to demand it, to say, “I deserve to be treated better, I deserve a promotion, I deserve love, etc…” What we often forget is that the way we are treated by the world is a direct reflection of the way we treat ourselves. If you are not getting the love you desire, it means you are not loving yourself to the degree at which you could recognize love from another. We must know something first, the seed must be planted within us before we can perceive it from the outside. If you are not being treated kindly by others, ask yourself, “ Are you kind to you?” Again, if the answer is “not really” how can you expect to know when others are being kind? Additionally, how can you know how to be kind to others? It all starts with you. What thoughts do you feed your mind, what actions do you feed your body, what stories do you tell yourself about who you are? We cannot expect change to come from the outside in, the world is shaped by your perspective. Every possibility is out there and you are the filter. Do not only treat others the way you want to be treated, treat yourself that way you want to be treated. Both are equally important. If you want to live in a beautiful world, if you want happiness, if you want success then you must acknowledge yourself as beautiful, as happy, and as successful. Sit in front of a mirror and gaze into your eyes, say to yourself “I love you, I forgive you, You are beautiful.” Smile to yourself. Give yourself a tight hug. Our relationship with ourselves is the most important relationship we have because it dictates our relationship with the world.
There are moments in life when we physically have to sit through something very uncomfortable. It’s tough. It’s riding the wave of uncertainty. What will get us through those times (and all times quite frankly) is letting go of the beginning and not reaching for the end. What we have is this experience right now. There is no past or future. The more we try to hold on to what has been or reach towards what may be the more difficult our journey will be. You are here, right now, no other time exists no matter how badly you wish it to. Suffering is created from attachments, the less we are attached to an experience, time, idea, emotion, etc… the less we will suffer. When you experience something unpleasant, do not wish for it to go away, do not grab for your comfort zone. Rather, become familiar with the state you are in, examine it, learn from it, let is pass through. The less reactive we are the less intense our experiences will be. If we want peace, we must be peaceful. There is no other way.
Yoga Practice: Eka-pada-paschimottanasana (one leg posterior stretch)
This asana relaxes the mind and makes it more flexible. This will increase our ability to adapt and find peace where we are.
- Sit on the floor, legs straight in front of you
- Bend right leg and place the heel either against the inner thigh or on top of the thigh of the left leg
- Pull the head to the extended leg (left leg), bending forward, holding the big toe of the left leg with both hands. (use a strap around the extended leg if it is difficult to reach the toe)
- Hold this pose for a few minutes
- Release on an exhale
- Repeat on the other side
Often we deem ourselves either successes or failures depending on the outcome of a pursued goal. When we set a target and either achieve it or not we determine whether we have won or lost at the respective task (i.e. I am either the “winner” or the “loser”). I propose abandoning the win/lose spectrum and adopting the “have I learned anything?” metric.
Pride and self importance are attributes commonly associated with success. These are emotions of the ego and impair our ability to develop empathy. Similarly, failure often leads to experiences of depression and decreased self-worth. These are precursors to self-sabotage and unhappiness. Instead, why not look back at our journey and determine how much wisdom we have gained? This would prevent the inflation of the ego and it would nurture our evolution. Throughout our time on earth we continually visit both peaks and valleys. The less we reinforce our ego with either positive or negative feedback the less intense the ups and downs will be. However, this requires us to learn from the experience. If we do not focus on the learning, but rather focus on the emotions evoked from the high points and the low points they will only increase in frequency and intensity. Whereas, if we take the time to examine the path and allow ourselves to learn from it our minds will become focused on the journey rather than on the destination.
Yoga Practice: Today, in place of practicing a specific pose, ask yourself what you have learned from today’s events, without attaching positive or negative emotions to them.