The class was the same, the sequence was the same, the teacher was the same and yet the response of these two people was different. One loved it because it was challenging, one hated it because it was challenging.
As they walked from the class the negative tape, the furrowed brow, the dark fog that drifted behind the second person impacted their experience as well as the experience of those around them.
The feeling of elation that characterized the first person’s experience impacted those around them but in a profoundly different way.
The mind is so powerful it can either liberate or bind us and which of these happens is our choice.
Whether this idea is empowering or frustrating is our choice as well.
The source of much of our angst, much of our frustration and much of our suffering is the desire for this moment to be different. If only [x] happened I would be happy. If only [they] were different I would like them. This desire comes from a value judgment of good or bad, right or wrong, positive or negative. The irony of course is that in the passage of our lives nothing is inherently good or bad, it’s our interpretation of the situation that counts.
While challenge is often accompanied by a feeling of frustration the two are not a priori bedfellows just as physical challenge through muscular effort does not lead ipso facto to tension. The same is true of the workings of the mind. Challenge can be accompanied by mental tension and frustration; it can equally be accompanied by motivation, even exhilaration.
The choice is ours so why not make an empowering one?
I first made this discovery in a yoga class a few years ago. I’d been struggling with a pose for some time. I was nearly there, I thought I had the strength but my feet seemed heavy, my legs felt like lead and it seemed like an impossible climb.
One day for some reason something clicked, an idea we’ve all heard a thousand times:
“If I do the same thing I’ve always done I’ll get what I’ve always got.”
“Alright,” I thought, “I’ve got to do something different.” What if, just before I attempt it, I visualize myself in the full expression of the pose? Where would my weight be placed? Where would my center of gravity be? What if I believe I can do it?
And voila! There I was in the pose. All I had to do was get out of my own way.
In my own life this rings true over and over again. Whenever I doubt, I fall; when I trust, I fly, and not just on the mat, off the mat too.
Although some days I can’t be bothered and decide instead to indulge my bad mood (by playing the “if only” game). I know even on those days that’s my choice. It helps me take myself (and my bad mood) a little less seriously.
I choose to let that empower me.
I choose to create my own reality, not divest myself of power by attributing my experience to something external from me.
We can choose our experience in any given moment. That’s how important perception is.
Why not perceive greatness?
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Travis May
Photos: Wiki Commons