“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” ~~ Alexander Pope
OK, so have you ever gone into a situation with the expectation of a certain outcome? Maybe it’s expecting to win your soccer game, or expecting to get an A on a test, or expecting to get proposed to by your significant other on a certain occasion. Let’s face it — we’ve all had times when we’ve walked into something with an expectation. It’s hard not to. We ARE human, after all.
In yoga, it is taught that we should let go of expectations. When you set expectations, you could end up being sorely disappointed if you set them too high. And if you set them too low, you could end up selling yourself short and missing out on something that could have been a wonderful opportunity.
On your yoga mat, you never know what your “best” is going to look like, as it can change from practice to practice. Your energy levels, the time time of day you practice, your intentions — all these things can differ from practice to practice and they can greatly affect your final expression of your poses. I definitely used to go into my yoga practices with expectations, and I’ve definitely had my moments when I was upset because I couldn’t do what I thought I could, and I have also had moments where after class, I knew I could’ve achieved more if I’d just been a bit more open to it.
If you’re a naturally Type-A person (like me, for instance), setting goals and expectations is easy because it’s what we’re wired to do. We’re the ones who need to learn to let go, to allow life to happen and roll with the punches. Not everybody’s like that, though. For some people, setting goals and expectations is needed to help find a direction and a purpose. But whichever category we fall into, part of finding our way in life involves both setting a path and being open to detours along the way.
Last week, I attended an awards ceremony at work, where people were nominated by peers for exhibiting various values that our company feels are crucial to our success. When they got to the “Focus on People” category, I was listening to this wonderful nomination about someone. I was thinking to myself, “Wow! What wonderful things to say about someone! I wonder who it is they are talking about?” Then they announced my name — I was in such shock! Why me? I feel like I am constantly complaining and whining about everything at work, and here I was getting nominated by a group of my peers because they feel like I exhibit the qualities of someone who focuses on others? Really? I mean, I know I try to do that, but I haven’t felt like I’ve done that very well lately, with all my self-pity. I had no expectations of winning any awards, so my day ended up being amazing with the great surprise of actually winning one.
Then there’s this upcoming weekend. I’ve got a half-marathon to run on Sunday, and I am SO not ready. With all my health stuff, I’ve not trained AT ALL like I should. But you know what? That’s OK. I’ve let go of all my time goals, and even of being able to run the entire thing. I’ve got four hours to finish, and I know I can do THAT. Shoot, I could speed walk the entire thing and be done in four hours! So I’ve decided to just let it go. I’m just going to do what I can, pay attention to how my body feels while I’m running, and be happy with the fact that I’m at least doing SOMETHING good for my mind and for my body.
How about you? My challenge to you for this week is to drop the rigid ideas of what you can and can’t do — either in yoga and/or your life. If you can do this, you’ll find that you’re left with the feelings of freedom and power. You’ll have the freedom to let your authentic light shine, and to find what truly makes you powerful in this world. When you experience this freedom and power, the possibilities are endless. What could be better than that?