I began this new year tangled up in the tyranny of expectations and unfortunately, it ended up being a source of suffering. The early yogis say that when humans are suffering, it is an indicator to stop and take notice. It is suggested we first witness what is going on (mindfulness) and then investigate with curiosity. The yoga sutras promise that we can find relief from faulty and delusional thinking by exploring the yoga sutra’s three pronged formula for relieving our suffering and coming back into balance:
Practicing the Opposite
I am wondering if you, too, sometimes engage in magical thinking; believing that your thoughts can directly cause things to happen? Do you sometimes expect that wanting other people to behave a certain way will actually make them behave that way? Do you find yourself disappointed when your thoughts that something will happen or be the case in the future, ends up being erroneous?
My lesson came when I began teaching in a new studio. I fully expected the move to be a freeing, stress – free beginning. After all, it’s a new, beautiful space, free of the previous studio’s restrictions. The owner of the studio is friendly and accommodating. Most importantly, my students were coming with me into a warm, new space, with modern conveniences and easy parking. We celebrated together at an open house.
During the first week at the new studio, I discovered that BOTH all the above about the new studio is true AND the entire upstairs is under construction for the next three months. I had never thought about it and the studio owner had no idea.
I was swinging from hope to despair; pinning my happiness on my expectations about the new studio! My first response was to think of all the possible ways to make it better. This of course included the “expectation” that “I” could make it better. I began searching out the manager of the project, making playlists of distracting more engaging yoga music and turning up thevolume. I also freaked out inside and out from time to time, which lead me to more suffering and then, thankfully, came the second step the yogis suggest: When caught in the experience of suffering, one must of course notice (mindfulness) and then start investigating the pattern! What was going on? I couldn’t relax with that noise; even though my wonderful students were telling me I had taught them how to do just that! Yikes! I had to explore what there was for me to learn about feeling like a victim and then jumping into “fix it” mode!
My investigation lead me to the task of unraveling my faulty thinking around controlling the uncontrollable and wanting to fix and tend to other’s discomfort. I had to acknowledge that I was holding myself responsible for the construction noise overhead. I needed to shed my delusional expectations!
The practice of the opposite began when I developed a little song to sing on my short ride to the studio. “Que sera sera. Whatever will be, will be. Could be yoga in motion and/or commotion ! Que sera sera.”
I began releasing my desire to control the environment and invited the fun loving, light hearted part of me to be part of the class. I surrendered …again …and again.
I began to let go of expectations and find what there was to be grateful for; even though things did not turn out the way I’d hoped. When I thought about my supportive students, the ambiance of the new space, the warmth and modern bathroom, right a way I began to experience serenity rather than resentment.
Finally I decided to make a list of things I can expect to happen….
I can expect that things will come together and fall apart…and then come together and fall apart again.
I can expect to move back and forth on the continuum of life’s experiences that include the enhancing/depleting, the easy/difficult, the hilarious/horrifying , the calming/upsetting…..and on it goes.
I can expect to die; never knowing when.
I can always expect change.
I’m opening to the practice of not knowing. Living with an open mind and with questions offers me far more possibilities than living with certainty and expectations. The following practice helps me welcome whatever comes; letting it all take its course.
As you inhale, think or softly say to yourself, “Clear mind, clear mind, clear mind…”
As you exhale think or softly say to yourself, “Don’t knowww………”
Breathing in, “Clear mind, clear mind, clear mind…..
Breathing out, “Don’t knowww….”
Dae Soen Sa Nim, Korean Zen master
With heartfelt appreciation for my students, Chris See our class schedule below!
Three New Spring Offerings!
A Spring Treat for Yourself Essential Oils & Yoga Practices
that Enhance Sleep
Anahata Yoga @ Ajna Yoga Center
Saturday, June 1, 1-3:15pm
Cost: $45 The class is limited to 10.
We will explore yoga poses that are ideal for preparing your body for sleep, as well as gratitude journaling, bedtime pranayama practices, Shabad Kriya (bedtime meditation) and Yoga Nidra. We will also discuss ways of limiting the negative impact of diet and stress on our sleeping patterns.
Email if you are interested in attending.
Jan Swindlehurst, a Certified Clinical Aromatherapy Practitioner and Educator, will introduce essential oils of Roman Chamomile, Clary Sage, Bergamot, Lavender and Sweet Orange as complements to your yoga practice in general, and to specifically encourage sleep. You will receive a 1oz. bottle that will include oils you can rub on your temples and feet to enhance sleep and a 2 oz spray bottle to refresh your bed sheets/ and linens.
Three Hour Restorative Yoga Class With Chris Morton & Ashley Matthews
Saturday, May 18 2019
Cost: $65 cash or check at time of sign-up
Let yourself be healed and nurtured from within during this three-hour program consisting of gentle, supported postures accompanied by breath awareness. Restorative poses are poses of “being” rather than “doing.” By supporting the body with props, the body and brain become quiet and relaxed. In this relaxed state, physiological changes occur which help to restore health and reduce the effects of chronic stress. Prior yoga experience is helpful but not required.
Pop Up Book Group — Women Rowing North Two Friday Luncheon Discussions (bag lunch)
Friday, April 19 & May 10
12:00noon–2:00pm (proposed time)
8 Beck Street, Newburyport
April 19: Part 1 & 2
Challengers of the Journey & Travel Skills
May 10: Part 3 & 4
The People on the Boat & The Northern Lights
“Think of Women Rowing North as a GPS for navigating your later years. And while Pipher, 71, says she wrote it specifically for women crossing from middle age to old age, there is much in the book that is useful for any of us.” – Considerable
“An enlightening look at how women can age joyfully.” -– People
“Both practical and inspiring.” – New York Times “Inside the List”
“Full of first-hand anecdotes, the hopeful book doesn’t shield the reader from the realities of aging, but rather delivers thoughtful insight and guidance to help women get more out of their lives and to be happier. This mental makeover is a necessity when you consider our senior population, especially women, is growing faster than you can say 70 is new 60.” – Postmedia
“This is bound to become the bible of baby boomer women.” – Editors’ Picks, Library Journal
About the Author
Mary Pipher is a psychologist specializing in women, trauma, and the effects of our culture on mental health, which has earned her the title of “cultural therapist” for her generation. She is the author of several New York Times bestsellers, including Reviving Ophelia, The Shelter of Each Other, and Another Country. She lives in Lincoln, Nebraska.
ANAHATA YOGA @ AJNA YOGA Studio
190 State Street