AWARENESS OF EXPECTATION
“To live life without expectation, without the need for specific results, that is freedom.” –Neale Donald Walsh
There comes a time in life where you realize that most things you once knew turn out to be different. I have always lived a very structured and disciplined life, one with lots of plans and timelines. I never really understood how much expectations controlled the emotional outcome of a situation, but I did know that disappointment usually led to me beating myself up for an unexpected conclusion. By being attached to a specific outcome means that if that outcome doesn’t happen it brings disappointment. In this past year, I have become aware of the role of expectations and attachments; for me, the two go hand-in-hand. Expectation leads to disappointment, almost always! Perception is another thing I have learned a lot about in the past year; I have learned that it is a very individual thing. Each person perceives things differently because each of us has different experiences and it is through those experiences that help mould us into who we are and where we approach situations from. If we blindly assume everyone else is going to see things the way we do, there is a good chance we are setting ourselves up for disappointment.
The yamma Satya represents truthfulness; through understanding this yamma, I have come to know that in life each individual has their own “truth” based on their own experiences. Also that our truth changes as we change; in fact, the only thing constant is change. It is through this process that we evolve as human beings and we develop a better understanding of the world around us. One of my biggest challenges, which has arisen through this understanding, is accepting that it is all a learning process and learning to not be too hard on myself when something doesn’t turn out exactly as I wanted it to. Recognizing that “this too shall pass” and knowing that that applies to both the positive and the negative; above all, learning to live with the flow and learning to let go. It is important to exercise Tapas, right energy and discipline, to ensure that energy doesn’t get wasted on expectations, wants and/or manifestations. Instead, putting energy into focusing on our own personal needs the universe will provide all the rest, as necessary.
Aparigraha, non-attachment, is vital to understanding expectations. It is through practicing non-attachment that we learn to let go of any preconceived outcome and learn to welcome the unknown. I admit that I am very attached to my yoga practice; it is something that is very important to me. I have come to realize that if for some reason I have to miss a class, that doesn’t make me a bad student, in fact the contrary may be true; being open to whatever comes my way can prove to be just as fulfilling. There is a sense of comfort in that which we can control, however by learning to shed expectations and accept the unknown we can achieve greater contentment and comfort.
Santosha, or contentment with ourselves and others, comes from acceptance. Eckhart Tolle said, “When you complain you become a victim, either leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness.” Contentment roots from attitude, positive thinking, acceptance and recognizing that what we have is enough. Through contentment comes happiness.
This past year has been full of understanding and transition. I have learned a lot about my life and myself; it isn’t easy working through this stuff but so far it is proving to be very worth it. I am learning to be patient with myself and those around me as I try to integrate this new information into my relationship with myself, with others, and into my yoga practice. I am also trying to apply it to all aspects and situations as they arise. No, it isn’t easy! Yes, I do stumble sometimes but I am also trying to learn to not feel penalized when things don’t work perfectly; instead, taking it as an experience to learn and grow from. Realizing that nothing can change overnight and that the only way to get better at something is through practice; most important is to recognize where you are at and to accept that. As Amy Steinberg said, “I am exactly where I need to be. I need to be exactly where I am.”