so it’s been almost two weeks in my own challenge and things feel different and the same. all in one. it’s hard not to want to push forward and say “well why haven’t i been able to accomplish this?" "why have i broken this rule?”… and certainly that comes up.
a good friend recently said to me, “why are you always trying to change yourself, why do you have to look at it that way?” and he’s right. that’s exactly the same thing that pema chodron says when she talks about how we’re always trying to get to a place that is better or we somehow think there is a better version of ourselves waiting out there in the abyss of “future”…
within this framework of “self awareness and working on ourselves”, we tend to get really rigid and that translates to ultimatums. i will only be GOOD if i do THIS or stop doing THAT. usually there is something beneath that surface of rigid that is asking to be sat with. for instance, i want to make more time to practice and meditate each day… and when that doesn’t happen i get frustrated and internally aggressive toward myself. the thing is that there is more to this. why don’t i make that time? and beneath that, what do i make time for? and beneath that, what’s stopping me right now??? there are layers and layers and layers and layers that can be either sat with and worked through or not. but getting rigid and saying “i didn’t do this today and that is BAD” only takes me in a very different direction that doesn’t feel helpful in any way. but it’s what we do!!! over and over we do that to ourselves…
i ask myself that all the time… how do i explore this in a way that isn’t harsh or aggressive or rigid? this is what buddhists may call middle ground. and it’s not easy.
i believe the answer is only to keep practicing, to keep working, but not with aggression or some sense that we are innately wrong, because we aren’t. one thing that always resonated with me in anusara yoga and tantra is this idea that we are ALREADY so good and beautiful and divine. sometimes it’s simply a process of peeling away some layers or dusting things off. i like that. it makes sense to me. how could we really be innately BAD when we are capable of such beauty??
so the next time you find yourself beating yourself up for not doing what you set out to do… pause for a moment and see if you can first soften to your experience and yourself. and then ask, why isn’t this working? are my expectations too high? what is stopping me? is there something else beneath this layer of “fail” that is actually much more tender and shaky and hard to put your finger on? then… work with that for a minute or an hour or a day or a week. and just keep on like that. take “fail” out of the vocabulary.
we don’t have to just sink or swim. we can float, dive, sit at the bottom, put our toes in, or stay out of the pool for the day.