Carolyn Young

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No Expectations

Beautiful view of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Beautiful view of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

We were in the midst of moving to Malaysia, so we had to focus on activities that were not part of our daily routine: like having packers in our house, saying goodbyes, gathering necessary paperwork for the move and many other things. Needless to say, my daily yoga practice suffered. Some days I only did sun salutations for the sake of some physical activity and other days it was sitting quietly just to gather my thoughts and sanity. 

The day after we arrived in Kuala Lumpur I decided to get on my mat. I was tired from the previous weeks and long trip, so I didn’t have many expectations about what my practice was going to be like. Even though I didn’t feel like it, I knew it was the best thing to do. Practicing would bring a feeling of familiarity, get me back into my routine and help with the jetlag. 

At times, I can be very asana oriented, and I expect a lot from myself physically. This day was different. My plan was to only do the standing postures. Instead, I ended up doing full primary series. I have experienced that before, not only in my practice but in other areas of my life as well; when I don’t expect much I go beyond what I thought possible.

So now I ask myself, "Should I have expectations or not?"

I have noticed, at least for me, when I have expectations I start to control the situation. I have a picture in my head of how it should be, and instead of being flexible and allowing the situation to evolve naturally according to the circumstances, I am fixated on a plan that will produce the results I want. I often fool myself into thinking I’m easygoing and will adapt to any change but my primary thought is “If I had a plan, why do I have to change it?” 

But I have come to realize, it’s better when I don’t have expectations. I am open to what will happen. I can enjoy the moment when I’m not trying to control it. I am more relaxed and not wasting my energy, time or effort on the outcome.

Effort. This is the keyword. Too much effort is exhausting and stressful. Having goals and making plans are wise and some of the keys to success, but we must be aware of the effort used to achieve them. It reminds me of Yoga Sutra 1.12 Abhyasa vairagyabhyam tannirodhah which refers to finding the appropriate balance between practice and detachment. We must maintain a balance between “never give up” and “always let go.”

But I am forgetful. It’s so easy to get caught up in my wants and desires and focus only on my expectations. 

Note to self: 

 - Remember to keep my expectations to a minimum. 

 - Don’t confuse not having expectations with not having goals or making plans. 

 - Always do my best.

 - Accept the outcome whatever that may be.



Carolyn YoungComment