As members of the human race, it is seemingly impossible for us to go into a situation without expectations.
The motive for most of our actions stems from the expectations we form around the outcome of the situation. What we expect to receive from performing a task determines whether or not we agree to do the deed and what degree of effort we will put into it.
For me, this has been one of the most difficult aspects to overcome while trying to walk the spiritual path.
As yoga teachers we are reminded of the destruction expectations cause repeatedly upon arriving to teach a class. You walk in, head held high, spectacular sequence that took a night to plan and not one person who signed up actually shows up. Or you have a full class, but one person has had a knee replacement, another is pregnant and another can barely get down on the floor. You immediately hit a wall, and although you have been given all the tools to adapt your plan in this situation, you cannot help but feel that sting of disappointment because you expected things to go a certain way.
Change is the natural rhythm of life and, as adaptable as our species is, we do not want to adapt unless it is our choice to do so.
How many times have you had the perfect day planned and the babysitter cancels or it rains and you planned to spend the day outside? This seems like an everyday occurrence for me and the result is almost always disappointment.
We do ourselves a favor by realizing that only when we have expectations do we have disappointment.
Think about it. In those rare instances of spontaneity when we have no plans and no ideas about what the day will hold, we are not burdened by dissatisfaction with the outcome.
Not only do expectations breed disappointment, they also breed Raga or attachment. Raga is one of the five kleshas, or barriers we must overcome in order to reach that supreme state of bliss known as Samadhi. It is our task to let go of the attachments we have to the physical world and this includes our attachment to results.
We strive instead for Vairagya or detachment, one of the two essential aspects of yoga. When we are able to detach from the results of our actions and just act, we are freed.
Nirashi, having no expectations, allows us to be free in action, and enables us to act in a way that will make the greatest contribution because we are seeking no gain, nor are we affected by the results. We are not troubled by our expectations and have chosen the live in the moment the minute we decided to live by Nirashi.
In order to live and act with no expectations, we must have complete faith that things will turn out the way we need. Not necessarily the way we would like, but the way that we need! This presents us with another opportunity to jump over the bumps in the road by reacting the same in pleasure and in pain, in good and in bad. By doing so we move above the plain of Maya, the world of illusion we too often become trapped in.
I have been spending a lot of time lately practicing Nirashi. Some days I do well and others I do not but I find that when I am able to act without expecting things to be a certain way, there is a weight lifted from my shoulders.
Eknath Easwaran said, “As long as we are expecting something, life can hold us hostage.” Through my trials, I have experienced this first hand. Our perception of reality, and the way we think things should go, can throw us so far off of the path we search our whole life trying to find our way back.
It is not easy to live by Nirashi, but it is necessary if we are to experience that great freedom that comes from detaching from results, be them favorable or not. Maya’s goal is to continually throw things at us and see how we react. She has a good laugh when we fall on our face and give in to her games. We will always stumble and get thrown off the path from time to time, but how gracefully we step back on determines our progress in living the spiritual life.
A disciplined Sadhana or personal practice, can enable you to leap gently back onto the path instead of having to crawl and scrap the knees on the rough edges. This does not even have to be a strict Asana (yoga postures) or meditation practice. It can be anything that is done through right action and with right intention that allows you to live and act for those around you.
If you wish to be rid of your disappointments and dissatisfaction with life, you must choose to live by Nirashi. A freedom you cannot imagine comes from removing the notion of “me” and “mine” from your actions.
Have faith that you will be given what you need, when you need it.
Purusha, the all-pervasive consciousness, already knows how to take care of you. Release your expectations and attachments, and step aside.
When the only thing you have to lose is disappointment, anxiety and stress, why not give it a try?
Auhtor: Lindsey Andrews
Editor: Katarina Tavčar
Photo: Author’s own