Eyes need a break from the screen?
Listen Instead. Press Play!
For those of you reading this that practice yoga, I want you to think of a pose that is out of your reach. One that you eye on Instagram. One that you feel a little twinge of jealousy when the person next to you in class float up into it like a little angel and you, the commoner, are left behind in some basic pose. The pose you're in may not even be all that basic, but in your mind it is because it's not the 'hardest' one.
If you don't do yoga, I want you to think about something in your life that you really want. The job promotion, the big house, the rockin' body or in the words of Queen, somebody to love. The type of thing that isn't a part of your life right now but that you tell yourself if you could just have that thing, that success or that partner, then you'd finally be happy. Even if life feels pretty good as it is, you've always got one eye on that one little thing you could add to the mix to make it even better.
It's a part of who we are. I often struggle with balancing my deeply rooted desire to do and be more - which we all have - with my desire to be present, appreciate what I have and not be so hard on myself which is why I resonated so deeply with this quote from How to Know God: The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali:
"Human beings cannot live without challenge. We cannot live without meaning. Everything ever achieved we owe to this inexplicable urge to reach beyond our grasp, do the impossible, know the unknown"
We're always reaching beyond ourselves. We're always searching for whats next and in a way this is a really good quality. It keeps us growing and has definitely propelled not just our personal lives forward but the advancements of humankind as a whole have resulted from this inexplicable urge to reach beyond our grasp. So I don't want you to think that I am totally beat up on it. I'm quite happy that this is a part of who I am. The problem arises when this inexplicable urge over powers our ability to see the good in ourselves and our lives right now. I know I fall into this way of thinking more often than I'd like to admit.
I see it all the time in my yoga practice. There is a pose I'd like to get, I work on it, I think I'll be satisfied when I get it. Then like magic, but not actually because it usually takes a lot of practice and dedication, I get it. Am I satisfied? Yes - but usually the feeling is fleeting. I'm happy for a moment, maybe a little longer, but eventually my brain goes, okay, what's next?
And of course if I see it in my practice, it's bound to show up in my life as well. I remember when I was in my first 200-hour Teacher Training, all I wanted was a class on a schedule. When I got it, I wanted another one. Then a better time slot. Then my own studio. Then to run retreats. And every time that one of these things has happened, of course I'm happy, but because I'm human, I eventually move onto the next thing.
Which is a blessing because it keeps me growing.
But it's a curse because I'm always reaching.
Can you relate?
I think the real question we need to ask ourselves is whether the urge to do and be more is robbing us of our appreciation for the moment and our happiness right now. If it is, we have to give ourselves a little reality check. This has been a big theme in Module 2 of my training with Jason Crandell. It's been refreshing and powerful to be reminded that the ability to do advanced poses doesn't make me a better person or teacher.
So the next time you find yourself on your yoga mat eyeing the person next to you that's holding a handstand or doing that beautiful backbend and you hear the voice in your head start to whisper, they're better than you, they're definitely happier than you, they're far more spiritually advanced than you - it feels really funny typing this out but hey, I know some of you out there do it too - you pause and you give yourself a little reality check:
Maybe they're a wonderful person.
Maybe they're really happy.
But that has nothing to do with the fact that they can do a hard yoga pose.
And the same is true in life.
Those people around you that have what you want, good for them!
Does this mean that they're definitely way happier than you? No!
Let's appreciate and embrace this intrinsic drive and inexplicable urge to grow that propels us forward. But let's remember to keep it in check. Stop tricking yourself into believing that if you just get the pose, the job, the lover, the house then all of a sudden that desire for more will be satisfied. Because I'm telling you it won't be. It's part of being human. At least if we're aware of it we can break the cycle that comes along with it of feeling unhappy and unfulfilled.