The Universe Doesn’t Negotiate With Complainers.

Via Jennifer Williams-Fields
on Aug 25, 2011
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“Why am I stuck here?!” I shouted out to the Universe.

“Because this is where you are needed,” She whispered back.

It wasn’t the answer I expected.  Nor the answer I wanted.

Surely there must be a need somewhere else? Maybe somewhere with a beach?

When in LA...

I had just returned from an enchanting week in Los Angeles where I had the opportunity to study with my yoga teacher, get my feet wet in the sand and drink Kombucha while watching the sunset.  That lifestyle, even if it was just a mini-working vacation, can be intoxicating.

I spent the first few days back home here in rural Tennessee stomping my feet and complaining about the lack of vegetarian options, oppressive humidity and just plain old un-hip lifestyle.


My weekly yoga class for teen ballerinas forced me to take a temporary break from my incessant complaining. Halfway through class, one of the young girls was struggling and tears began to fill her eyes. Instinctively, I knelt next to her and together we got through the vinyasa.

Photo credit Bing Osterman

“This is where you are needed.”

I swear I heard it as if someone in the room had said it.

Can’t we negotiate this where I’m needed thing?

“You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

–Max Ehrmann Desiderata: A Poem for a Way of Life

Damn. I guess when you ask the universe a question you have to be willing to accept the answer.

In his book The Wisdom of Yoga, Stephen Cope says as humans we wage a silent War With Reality inside ourselves.  The ancient yogis called it duhkha, which translates to suffering or distress. Thoreau called it a “life of quiet desperation.” In modern times, even us practicing yogis find ourselves in deep aversion to how things are right now.

Attachment is that which follows identification with pleasurable experiences.” YS II.7

I want to be there.

Aversion is that which follows identification with painful experiences.” YS II. 8

I don’t want to be here.

Like Cope points out, there is a direct connection between my duhkha and my inability to perceive reality accurately. Each time I complained about having to suffer and live here I reinforced the samskaras, those deep-rooted patterns in my brain that said, “Yeah, you’re right. It really must suck living somewhere you have a roof over your head, a family that loves you and a job that fulfills you.”

Damn you, Universe! Can’t I just wallow a little longer while I adjust to this time zone?

So what’s a good yogi to do to stop the negative patterns? Meditate of course.

Cope says one of the first lessons a new meditator must learn is “we are not our thoughts. We are not our internal chatter.”

From Copes translations of the Yoga Sutras:

Now, the teachings of yoga.

Yoga is to still the patterning of consciousness.

Then pure awareness can abide in its very nature. I:1-3

So if I think I’m stuck here, then I’m stuck here. But Patanjali says “things outside neither bind nor liberate you; only your attitude toward them does that.”

With meditation, awareness, compassion and a great big attitude adjustment, Cope says everyone can break those old samskaras that say I don’t want this but I do want that.

I accept the Universe has placed me here now for a reason. And I accept it may be a reason I’m not supposed to know. But I am totally open to the Universe at some point, hopefully soon, needing me someplace else.

Someplace with a beach.

Photo credit Jennifer Fields

* The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Translation and Commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda




About Jennifer Williams-Fields

Jennifer Williams-Fields is passionate about writing, yoga, traveling, public speaking and being a fabulous single momma to six super kids. Doing it all at one time, however, is her great struggle. She has been teaching yoga since 2005 and writing since she first picked up a crayon. Although her life is a sort of organized chaos, she loves every minute of the craziness and is grateful for all she’s learned along the way. Jennifer was a featured speaker at the 2015 inaugural CourageMakers Conference and is a regular guest speaker for local media outlets. Her motivational talks on gratitude, addiction and self care have been called “inspiring and life changing.” She has had her essays featured on Yahoo!, Dr. Oz The Good Life and Scary Mommy. She is a regular writer for, YourTango and YogaUOnline. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, her blog or website.


12 Responses to “The Universe Doesn’t Negotiate With Complainers.”

  1. You are welcome back to L.A. anytime of the year, where anytime of the year you can visit the beach and like it! xoxo lc

  2. fantastic article!! thanks so much for sharing your insight – really great wisdom. i've just posted to my studio fb page!! 🙂

  3. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Thank you Jennifer!

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Join us! Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
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  4. Thanks so much – this was exactly what I was asking today, as well as what I needed to hear;) Sometimes I guess we need to fully appreciate where we are for awhile before we can move on <3

  5. Jade Doherty says:

    "Surely there must be a need somewhere else? Maybe somewhere with a beach?"

    Made me laugh so much I had to tell the person sitting next to me!

  6. Joe Sparks says:

    Interesting article, and most folks feel this way one time or another. The universe which we can apprehend, grasp, manipulate and enjoy spreads out from us individually in every direction. It is the nature of the human being at its center to be intelligent, to take charge. Just like you!

  7. Wow, thank you. I hope your studio members will enjoy it too.

  8. It is a crazy, mixed up, confusing, lovely world isn't it? And only when I sit still and let myself experience it do I realize there is a bigger picture involved than just where my address is. Glad you are able to move on from your place now!

  9. rejuvenate38 says:

    Exactly what I needed to read today – and everyday for that matter. Thank you for this, Jennifer.

  10. Sondra says:

    So true, so darn true! Thank you for posting, a good thought/mantra to focus on this week. (I prefer the Ginger flavor!)

  11. I haven't seen the Ginger flavor. I'll have to look for it. Thanks!