June 14, 2010

Desires, Expectations, and Shoulds…Oh My!

We may pass violets looking for roses. We may pass contentment looking for victory.

~ Anonymous.

Our desires always disappoint us; for though we meet with something that gives us satisfaction, yet it never thoroughly answers our expectation.

~ Elbert Hubbard

Follow the yellow brick road!

In the end, everyone got exactly what they needed—but it wasn’t anything like they expected.

This week’s musings:

When I thought this week about the theme of community it occurred to me that dis-harmony is often caused and perpetuated by expectations, rampant desires and all those nasty shoulds—not only for self but for those around us. Buddhism calls it dukha (suffering) which is said to be caused by violated expectations.

Patanjali tells us in the yoga sutras about the kleshas, the five causes of suffering.  One of the kleshas is excessive attachment (raga),  so this idea of relinquishing expectations and desires comes to me from the teachings—suffering can be avoided if we let go of these false ideas.

I expect a lot of myself.  I was taught to have high expectations. Sometimes I even live up to my own standards. But what happens when I don’t? Aye, there’s the rub—you see expectations are fine as long as you don’t expect to have them fulfilled…Or no wait…they are fine as long as you fulfill them? No, that’s not it…they are fine as long as you don’t fall apart if they aren’t fulfilled.  Ahhhh now I think I’m getting somewhere. Having high expectations can lead to striving and working and focus – but as the quotes tell us we can’t put on “expectation” blinders.  The same rings true for our loved ones and community …if we are so blinded by our expectations of what we want from them we may never see the beauty of who they truly are.

I desire many things (interestingly not as much as I used to), come to think of it this is truly where I have seen the most change in myself with my yoga practice and my spiritual work.  do I see things I think are sweet? Yep but i don’t crave them or feel that jealousy I once did for those that “get stuff”.   Sadly I feel this is where we, as a society, put the most pressure on ourselves and each other.  This need for more and bigger and better…and look where it has gotten us?  You know what —- I don’t have to tell you where it has gotten us…I started several times to make a list of grievances but it was too much, suffice it to say simplifying is the only answer. Desire leads to greed and anger and ultimately feelings of competition rather than inclusion.

I feel I “should” do a lot…or as I have often heard I “should” all over myself and others.   He “should” be nicer to me. She “shouldn’t” wear that in public. I “should” get up earlier everyday.  SHOULD…what does it even mean? “Used to express obligation or duty”….but by who’s standards? Who’s rules?  And why?  Should is like “try” …it only promotes guilt and doesn’t solve anything.   The worst sentence ever? YOU SHOULD TRY…yipe that’s like a death sentence to getting anything done ever.

Instead maybe we strive to look at the world as doable and changeable: When he is nice to me I enjoy work more. She might get more respect if she didn’t wear that in public.  I believe I get more done when I get up earlier.   It becomes a matter of sharing responsibility, acknowledging differences of opinions and acting rather than blaming, of living in possibilities instead of control.

When we stop desiring so much and expecting society to give us everything we “deserve” then perhaps we can start healing and helping and that “should” make the world a better place.

What about  your life… What expectations are you placing on yourself and others that are causing angst? Are there some desires that you could “live” without? How can you cultivate detachment and simplify your life? Are you considering how your lifestyle choices are either adding to or healing the dis-harmony in the world?  I’m not saying you “should”…but what if we ALL did?  I myself hear the shoulds in my head all day and I’m working on reframing how I see myself, embracing who I am, accepting, forgiving, loving even those parts of me that I “wish” were different.

Asana (yoga pose) of the week:

ardha pincha mayurasana(half peacock feather pose) AKA dolphin.   We live with the possibility of  moving into the full pose without the desire to or the expectation to and of course knowing there is no should involved. We simply work towards it, little by little, day by day and perhaps we experience the full pose, perhaps not. But along the way we build strength, confidence, flexibility and patience and that is all we need.  How To Video!!

Wellness Tip of the week:

Poppies will help them  Sleeeepp….sleeeep.  Talk about an area where all the shoulds and haveta’s get you all messed up.   Lack of sleep may be the number one thing standing between you and …well…everything. Whether you wish your memory was better, your waist was thinner or you golf game was improving an increase in quality sleep could just be your ticket. But it’s hard to get a good night sleep when you are pumped full of caffeine, stressed about deadlines, worried about money and wondering if everything is going to live up to your expectations. For more tips on getting som zzzzzz’s : Dr. Mercola…I’m typing this bleary eyed trying to get this posted before bed..because it “should” be done before now…le sigh…I’ll read my own post tomorrow and “try” to follow my own advice.  Namaste My dears.

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Aminda R. Courtwright  |  Contribution: 9,785