Expectations. They are the bane of my existence.
Anne Lamott says that, “Expectations are resentments under construction.”
When I search “expectations” on Pinterest, dozens of quotes appear such as:
Resentment? Suffering? Disappointment? Sounds like expectations are something I need to just dump by the wayside.
Ha! Not so easy to do. We are human after all with wants and desires and, yes, expectations.
I get disappointed when I expect people to behave differently than they do.
I am disappointed when I receive a rejection from a journal or contest I had expectations of winning.
I even bring expectations into my meditation practice.
Just yesterday, a yoga student who was grateful to have the class to herself, asked if we could do a 30-minute meditation instead of our usual 15. I said of course and I joined her. I was a little apprehensive. I usually sit for 10-15 minutes myself at home. 20 max. But she had a good point. She says her mind is just settling in at the 15-minute mark. I could relate to that.
So, we settled in, I set the timer and those 30 minutes flew by. I was stunned. I joked that I was totally blissed out.(It wasn’t really a joke.) I decided that I need to try this at home. So, this morning I set my alarm a little earlier than usual and I sat for 30 minutes.
Here’s the problem. I went into to it expecting the experience to be like yesterday. That I would just sink in, time would fly and I’d rise from my mat completely blissed out and refreshed.
Hmmm…not so much. It was more like this:
This mat is too thin…my back hurts…what am I teaching this morning…oh and I have that edit due…and call the doctor…and don’t forget the gift…I’m hungry…this is stupid…30 minutes is way too long…I suck at this…
And on and on and on…
It’s hilarious that I expected meditation to be a certain way when it’s really about just observing the mind the way it is. Accepting it exactly as it is.
I am (slowly) learning to let go of expectations on my mediation cushion as well as my yoga mat. Since hurting my back this summer, I’ve really tried to let go of expecting my practice to look a certain way. I’ve been coming to my mat and just doing what feels good. Accepting my body as it is, moment to moment, breath to breath.
Just one more away that my practice on the mat helps my life off the mat…
Here is a poem that I love that says it all:
Let It Go by Danna Faulds
the holding of plans or dreams or expectations – Let it all go. Save your strength to swim with the tide.
The choice to fight what is here before you now will
only result in struggle, fear, and desperate attempts
to flee from the very energy you long for. Let go.
Let it all go and flow with the grace that washes
through your days whether you received it gently
or with all your quills raised to defend against invaders.
Take this on faith; the mind may never find the
explanations that it seeks, but you will move forward
nonetheless. Let go, and the wave’s crest will carry
you to unknown shores, beyond your wildest dreams
or destinations. Let it all go and find the place of
rest and peace, and certain transformation.