Holidays, Expectations and a Little Yoga Hypocrisy.
It’s December 27th and I’ve made a critical holiday mistake.
My work schedule has been nuts lately with tons of traveling and approximately zero days off for about two months now. I have so been looking forward to a few days off this Christmas. Last week I arrived home for two weeks and was so excited to see the hubs and the pups, get the tree up and start carving out time for family and friends. As per instruction, Ryan picked up a tree for us to decorate on his way home from work.
For days I’d been envisioning the two of us with eggnog in our hands, the fire lit, holiday music playing, smiling and catching up as we unwrap the decorations for the holidays. That’s not how things went down at all.
Ryan picked up a tree that was, to be kind, lopsided and missing a significant amount of branches. The puppy, having never seen a Christmas tree in the house before, would not stop chewing what few branches the tree had left. We yelled at the puppy. The puppy peed on the couch. The lights didn’t work (Ryan spent about 2 hours trying to make them work but to no avail). All the ornaments were tangled together so decorating took way longer than I’d anticipated. And, instead of the evening being a relaxing event together, I kept thinking about the 94 emails in my inbox I needed to get to this week now that my two months of traveling was complete.
The irony of the whole situation is that I just spend so much time leading yoga teacher trainings where I focus on the art of being present, practicing yoga off the mat, being a good person, trusting in a loving universe, etc. So, here I am losing my shit because things are not going the way I had planned them to go. I had been looking forward to this evening for nearly a month! To be fair, I’m almost 6 months pregnant so I’m (just a little) hormonal.
My wish for you is that you don’t make the same mistake I did this holiday season. I humbly created massive expectations for this holiday and within 4 hours felt completely dejected as NOTHING worked out the way I thought it would. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (as well as the core of Buddhism) teaches us that expectations are the cause of suffering. To attain yogic enlightenment, we must abandon our attachment to how we think things should be and instead, focus on the moment however it unfolds. Our obsession with results only furthers the increased fluctuations of our mind (the citta vrittis) and keeps us tethered to a dualistic perspective where everything is classified as ‘good’ or ‘bad’…sorry…am I starting to lose you here? I digress…
My point is that it’s easy to plan and schedule our downtime and fun when our lives are so busy. It’s also easy, at this time of year, to set intentions and goals believing that they will come to pass. But, developing expectations around this downtime or these goals creates the opportunity for disappointment. We achieve true freedom when we can detach from the outcome of all that we do and instead focus on finding joy in each moment. Modern self-development guru Tony Robbins often speaks to finding gratitude in each moment especially when the moment is challenging. I’ve been practicing this on my travel days as I’ve found myself getting progressively grumpy about being herded on and off planes, the poor quality of airport food, and the inevitable delays that come up every bloody time I have to fly somewhere (I missed my last two flights so I’m particularly crabby about flying…). So, my yoga practice these days is all about relinquishing my attachment to how I think things should BE; to finding little pockets of goodness in days that are challenging (like the wonder of hurtling through the sky in a jet).
Don’t forget to pause and take your practice off the mat. 🙂
Family, expectations, struggle, cold, disappointment – these are all triggers and reminders that the yoga never ends.