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How I plan to make 2014 better than all the others

January 10, 2014

Here it is put simply. This might possibly be the answer to EVERYTHING. So you might want to listen and get in on it.

Stop hoping. Instead, just have hope.hope

What? OK, two minutes of your time and you’ll understand.

What’s the different between “hoping” and “having hope.”

Remember that point in your life when you figured out that having expectations simply led to disappointment (or at least most of the time?) It was middle school for me. I even lamented to my diary hoping she’d provide some comfort in my hour of dismay.

Dear Diary,
Tonight I was hoping Patrick would ask me to dance. He didn’t. I was like totally disappointed and now I feel so awful. I wish I had never hoped that he asked me to dance so that I wouldn’t be disappointed when he didn’t. Expectations stink and I’m never going to have them again.

Yours Truly,

Reverse NamasteThen yoga came along in high school and suddenly I was asked to “set intentions.”

“If you’d like to begin your class by setting an intention, please do it now.” I didn’t really know what it meant so I would repeat in my head “breathe” or “I’m strong” or “inhale calm, exhale ease” as I moved through the practice. I figured that’s kind of what they meant. At least it wouldn’t hurt.

I continued along through life trying my hardest to not have any expectations and setting these so-called-intentions in yoga class. I always felt fantastic after yoga class but the buzz would fizzle rapidly. I was confused and frustrated.

If I let go of having any expectations, did that mean I was to compromise what I need and want, not have any goals or dreams, resign to life being completely out of my control and just accept things as they are (even if they’re really bad like when Patrick didn’t ask me to dance?)

Seriously, “WOE is me!”

Fast forward 10 years: still doing yoga, started picking up meditation (we’re still not traveling via transporter beam, I’m sort of bummed about this). Meditation taught me something that shifted my understanding of expectations and intentions dramatically. I began attending Wednesday night meetings at the Insight Meditation Community of Washington to hear clinical psychologist and Buddhist meditation teacher Tara Brach speak.

She was advocating a concept called “Radical Acceptance.” I’ll give you the gist of it.

Radical Acceptance means actively witnessing and opening up to every aspect of our current internal experience – as opposed to ignoring, shutting down or closing off. It’s sort of like having a floodlight inside your body that’s turned ON and shining everywhere so that you can see and feel everything that’s happening inside your body and your mind in any given moment. We don’t block the light from any corner of our being.

Radical Acceptance teaches me to feel my sadness and disappointment without fighting it and trying to change it or make it go away. The funny thing is that if you allow yourself to sit with those feelings and shine your spotlight brightly on them for a time, they’ll dissipate and you’ll move on more rapidly than if you’d followed your friend’s likely advice of “Don’t be sad! You’re too good for him anyway.” (Feelings hate to be ignored – they hate it! Don’t ignore them. They’ll fester.)

So what am I supposed to do instead?

Rajasic and Sattvic

Take action with intention in your heart without any expectation of a particular outcome.

Go ahead, read that again.

Karma Yoga teaches us that the Rajasic way of acting will bring us harm and suffering (“boo hoo Diary, why me?!”) whereas the Sattvic approach, taking action without any expectation of a particular outcome, will bring us to the ultimate goal of yoga – knowing one’s true self. Check out the full seamless story at the Yoga Poster.

But how do I do that?
Let’s circle back to setting intentions. When I set an intention, I ask “what’s really important to me right now?” and I can finally see (and more importantly FEEL) using Radical Acceptance the answer to that question. I usually only ask the question after a little yoga or meditation time.  Because I’m more centered and quiet after practice, I can pierce through the layers of armor and see straight into the center of my heart. Really!

Suddenly I can see that “I am completely open to love and be loved deeply.”

Suddenly I can feel that “My hope is unbounded and limitless.”

Whoa. Now those are some intentions. And instead of them being attached to a particular outcome, instead of me feeling gripped on the inside by whether or not Patrick asks me to dance and we fall deeply in love, instead of me having a stomach ache all day wondering what will happen later that night, instead of HOPING FOR ALL THAT…

hopenecklaceI can just carry around my intention on my heart, almost like a necklace I never take off.  And no one or no thing can ever take it away from me. And it feels damn good.

PS. I don’t expect the concepts in this post to change your life forever after from here on out. That’s because they are concepts that take a lifetime of practice. Why not begin now? And make 2014 YOUR year.

Check out my 21-Week Turnaround Program: “It’s My Turn!”

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