Navigating the Path of Expectation

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How can yoga assist us in letting go of expectation?

What happens when we try to stake a claim on something that is not ours to have or experience at this moment? How much angst and self churning do we put ourselves though when we look outside to what others have or are doing? It seems to be everywhere. People trying to replicate each other in how they live, where they holiday, what they buy.

My youngest son was in a world of sorrow and hurt this morning as he watched his big brother jubilantly set off to school camp. Not because he would miss him but because he felt he was ‘missing out.’ A profound hurt and longing had settled in his chest. Why him and not me? He cried and clung and refused to find any joy in his own day. His internal battle wanted equality not this feeling of being left behind.
The second child… eternally striving for an independence that will never be his to experience first.
Truth is, school camp would not have been the perceived joy for this six year old. Come 7pm he would have been looking for his blanky, for a cuddle with Mum, probably beginning to feel tired and homesick. Not ready.

So it got me thinking about the idea of ‘missing out’. It’s a constant in life. I should have that, feel that, be there…. We all feel it and many of our early experiences shape our perceptions of it as an adult. I remember missing out on a school excursion to the theatre in Grade 5 because I was the last name drawn out of the hat – only a certain number of students could go. For a story-mad, music-loving child it was complete devastation. I can still feel the hurt at not being included in this experience.

The dilemma of living in a society with so much choice means expectation soon follows. And things can go really wrong for us when expectation is not met. More striving, more inner suffering… the cycle perpetuates because we are never truly happy right now. Before we know it we are living beyond our means with that big mortgage or the expensive holiday to pay off. Just so we can ‘feel’ like we belong momentarily and have what we see others having. Instant gratification but long term discontent.
So how do we find our own truth? How do we let go and accept that sometimes things are not meant to be forced?

Desire for something we cannot have is one of the major causes of suffering.
Have you ever noticed it is usually your expectation that creates the suffering? Especially when we ‘listen out there’ to opinions rather than ‘listen within’.
The ever-wise yogis of the past were big on letting go of expectation. Just do, don’t expect. The grace this represents is foreign to Western society but accessing it can allow so much more inner peace.
Being present and just living now.
How does yoga help us let go of expectation? When we are on the mat we are in the moment. We don’t need to think ahead. This is where the real magic of our yoga practice lies. Internal change – a shift in ideas – old patterns and expectations being broken down. Creating space for…whatever comes.

As I hug my son tonight and assure him that his time will come I hope he can find some happiness in this moment and understand that school camp will still be there for him in three years – when the time is right and he is ready.

When you begin to find yourself on the sprint of expectation towards Christmas, take time to slow that run to a stroll and then stop for a moment and listen within – you might find a quieter voice than those around you and a more peaceful, knowing one.

by Jill Harris