Let Go of Expectations

Now that’s a hard thing to do. Sometimes our expectations are high, sometimes we don’t even know we have them. But they tend to frame the experiences we have. In the following account, an Axis YTT student works to re-establish a meditation practice. It is expectation of both past and future experiences that cloud this student’s vision of success. And in a little twist, it is the meditation that reveals that their expectation of Self was not matching with their actual behavior. Read on…

 

Let Go of Expectations: Past

For my personal experiment I wanted to develop a consistent meditation practice. The first time I meditated was eleven months ago. I had this overwhelming need inside of me to meditate, even though I did not know how to meditate and did not know any one personally who meditated. So I began to meditate intuitively. I would sit at random hours of the day, I would use music and crystals during my meditations. I immediately began to have “interesting experiences” for lack of a better description. These experiences included but not limited to: intense spinning sensations, floating sensation, strong vibration, seeing lights and colors in my head, seeing geometry flying in my head, seeing the universe so clearly I felt I was floating in the midst of it and having what seemed like an external force pushing my body in all directions (should I have resisted it would have required muscle engagement). I practiced pretty consistently for about three months. My practice was partly driven by these “interesting experiences” I was having but was initiated for spiritual growth. Then I started working as a nurse full time and my practice started to dwindle. I wanted to maintain it, so I set my alarm, when it went off, I would literally roll out of bed, take a seat and meditate. This was not effective, I would doze off most of the time. Then I thought I would meditate before bed, this too was not effective as I was not consistent with it. And eventually I was not meditating at all.

Let Go of Expectations: Present

So my experiment was around developing a consistent meditation practice that I could integrate into my lifestyle. My plan was to set my alarm for five thirty, get out of bed, go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, splash cold water on my face, change clothes and then sit for ten to fifteen minutes. For the meditation, I planned to start with some breathing, a mantra, then just sit in silence, and end with gratitude. For these couple of weeks I was able to accomplish all of this except I did not change my clothes. I found I really loved to splash the cold water on my face, I felt so refreshed afterwards. The breathing I did was just full deep breaths visualizing the breath entering and exiting my body. This helped me to come into my body and helped my mind to become present in the moment. I chose two different mantras to use. These mantras are Sanskrit mantras, they are sayings that I had artistically written out and put on my wall. I got these from Charles F. Haanel and they resonate with my being. The first is “I can be what I will to be” and the second is “I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, harmonious and happy.” I would say each of these many times and eventually when it felt right I would sit in silence. The goal was to silence my mind, but that is a work in progress for me. Often my mind wanders, but when I become aware of that, I bring my mind back to silence. I would sit for around ten to fifteen minutes. Then I would end with expressions of gratitude. That was my practice for these past weeks and I am happy to say that I did it every single day.

Let Go of Expectations: of Past

Even though I accomplished practicing every day, it did not come without its struggles. The most notable one being getting up in the morning. I made a point to get to bed earlier but I still struggled. I did fine getting up the first couple of days and then it started getting harder for me. I would wake up tired and I just wanted to stay in bed a little bit longer. The next thing I struggled with was letting go of the “interesting experience” I had experienced previously. I had not only began to expect having those experiences but I wanted to have those experiences. I enjoyed them and had placed some spiritual significance onto them. I worked to let that expectation go because that is not what meditation is about and I don’t want to be attached to it that way. But it is hard for me to let it go because to me those experiences were very enjoyable and a part of me thinks if I do not have those experiences I am not meditating correctly. I do not know why I have that belief but that belief is there. So for this experiment I wanted it to be okay with myself to just sit and be knowing that that was enough. I am still working on that.

 

Let Go of Expectations: of Present

When this experiment time was coming to a close I was asking myself what has changed for me and what has improved. At first I could not come up with anything and I felt like a failure. I wanted this to have some tangible significant impact on my life, I wanted some spiritual revelation or epiphany about what to do with my life. Expectation rises its head again. Yesterday I realized that I had become more aware of my being in one aspect and it is something that I am embarrassed of and do not want to admit. I recently became more aware of how I interact with people and distinctly that I sometimes say things that are sharp and not nice. I come off negative without realizing it. When I had this awareness about myself I was confused and embarrassed because this is not how I picture myself in my head. I am this way with my co-workers and my family and I am ashamed of it. So I put a plan in place for me and I recruited the help of my co-workers. I asked them if I said anything negative or not nice if they would call me out on it because for some reason I am not catching it myself. I am thankful that they were all up to the task and understanding. I am doing this so I can become more aware of my actions and words and how they affect people. I do not know if this awareness about myself came out of my meditation or not. But I am thankful to have been given this awareness, as painful as it has been, because I have already felt my personal growth from it.

I plan to continue my morning meditation and have no plans to stop it. I feel that it is so important for me to do. I feel I have barely touched the tip of the iceberg with my practice and I want to develop it much more. But I am glad to have started again and look forward to continued integration into my practice.

Discover the Secret to Success!

In a nutshell, stop focusing on success. A message that was profound for the following Axis Yoga Teacher Training student. In fact, many of Krishna’s messages from the Bhagavad-Gita give good reason for meditation and reflection. The following account shows how this book prompted one student to embark on a life-long path towards detachment in the pursuit of inner peace and happiness.

Discover the Secret to Success: The Book

For my personal experiment I decided to read the book called Bhagavad-Gita. It was a recommendation by my teacher for those students who could not decide what to pick for their personal experiment.

I had no prior knowledge of this book, its content, and its importance in the world of literature, poetry and spirituality. Of course I had no idea of what impact reading this book would have on myself. All I heard was it’s a story of Krishna presented in a poem format.

What started as just a classroom assignment became a much bigger experience, something I feel will carry with me through life. After finishing this book I know now selecting this book was not just by chance, it came to me because I needed it at this point of my life.

I started with researching online about this book to understand more on what I am about to get into with my classroom assignment. I knew I had a lot to learn since I didn’t even know who Krishna was. As I am writing my summary I realize I will not be able to explain all my learning in the format of 3-page classroom assignment.

Discover the Secret to Success: The Story

Bhagavad Gita means The Song of the Bhagavan or the song of the Lord (Bhagavan means God or the Lord). The Gita is small but appears to be a part of the vast Hindu epic, the Mahabarata, a poetic chronicle of two warring groups of cousins, the Kauravas and the Pandavas. The Gita is universally acknowledged as one of the world’s literary and spiritual masterpieces.

The Gita is set in a narrative framework of a dialogue between Pandava prince Arjuna and Krishna. In Hiduism Krishna is an incarnation of Vishnu, and is the main character of the Gita. Here in battle, he serves as Arjuna’s charioteer, and comes to earth to help Arjuna see his dharmic duty as a warrior, dharma means the law or principle. Arjuna finds himself in a state of panic on the morning of a battle. The enemies he is expected to fight are his cousins he knows well. In his state of confusion and doubt, Arjuna turns to his charioteer, Krishna, for help. The answers he gets are not exactly what he wants to hear, but it is Krishna’s opportunity to tell a mortal about how the universe operates, and the best approach to life.

Discover the Secret to Success: The Message

The answer Krishna gave to Arjuna to kill as opposed to a more peaceful way of dealing with this family conflict was also surprising to me, at first. However, as the story continued I became more clear about Krishna’s guidance to Arjuna to push forward and destroy the enemy. When Arjuna questions how he can support such sin, Krishna said there is no such thing as the killer and the killed, that the body is merely flesh, and at the time of death he attains another body. These limits of the superficial body should not stop someone from doing what he must do.

The true master, says Krishna, realizes that reality lies in the eternal; such people are not affected by the temporary changes that come with the senses. Instead, as a warrior, he must follow his dharma, or duty, where in this case nothing is higher than the war against evil. If he retracts from this battle, he will incur sin, violating his dharma and his honor. He encourages Arjuna to not see the results of action, but rather focus on the work itself, without selfish attachments, alike in success and defeat.

This was profound for me to read. I started meditating on the question of what is my duty, why am I here. Am I fulfilling my duties or am I resisting? During the 3 weeks of my personal experiment I kept asking questions and meditated on them. The answers kept coming.

I realized this will be a long path to find wisdom and peace with my duties as a mother, as a wife, as a daughter, as a member of community and as an earth citizen; however, I understood the key is to keep focusing on the work and not be consumed with the result and how hard or impossible it would be to get there. Krishna tells Arjuna that the definition of a wise man is one who is unconcerned with whether things are “good or bad,” but rather abandons attachments to the fruits of labor. That was beautiful and liberating to hear or read.

Discover the Secret to Success: The Meaning

I realized as a mother I never stop loving my children. When they were babies with every sound of cry they made I was there and ready to take action, checking on their state of well being. No matter how tired, how sleepy, how hungry, or how sad I was I knew my duty, my commitment as a mother to protect my children without any question. I did not think about any reward any recognition or praise for my actions. I understand this is the way of yoga.

I also understand I have a long way to go to be able to respond to every situation in life in the state of yoga, however, now I have the awareness of not being so worried about how hard this will be to achieve but to simply be action focused and keep pushing forward towards meditative state without agitation or resistance. Krishna encourages action with awareness, or selfless action, designed not to please one’s ego or to gain sensual pleasure, but rather in service to a higher power. I am going to focus that. When Arjuna asked Krishna what happens if someone cannot achieve yoga in their lifetime, Krishna says as long as a person is truly committed to achieving yoga, even if he dies before achieving it, he will be reborn into a situation that will help him complete his journey. He says if one begins on the path, then the divine will help guide him towards his goal, even if it takes successive lifetimes to do it.

Krishna’s explanation about death, living, and the immortal self (soul) was enlightening as well. The timing for picking up this book couldn’t have been better. My mother is very ill and could be dying. I have been very sad about it. She lives far from me, in Canada and even though I have other siblings caring for her I wanted to be with her too. Reading this book helped me cope with the situation much better. My first reaction before starting the book was to buy a ticket and fly to Canada right away.

As I read the story I thought of my duty as a student and how I need to stay focused in my training. My duty as a wife and mother and how I am needed at home. My mom has good help right now, I can visit later or if her situation gets much worse. Then I can decide to go. For now I chose to take the action of prayer for her healing and that feels right. I thought of Krishna saying we are already dead. That’s so true! In the past I would stop praying if I didn’t get the results I wanted but now I see how I was so attached to the result and did not understand the path of action. I now understand my prayers may not heal my mom but I keep praying without expectations. It feels peaceful and healing every time I chant a prayer so I will keep going.