We have all felt the excitement and anticipation or otherwise dread, of something we have experienced in the past, happening again. We ‘expect’ a certain outcome; may it be the blissful feeling of the freeing of energy in the body in a posture well mastered, or on the other hand when we just assume that naturally we will fail to achieve a fruitful outcome to communications with a particularly challenging person in our workplace.

The outcome of either situation can be positive or negative. The point is, we can’t ever be sure of what the outcome might be.

How can we free ourselves from disappointment when what we have set out to do doesn’t work out the way we ‘expected’ it to?

The Yoga Sutras and ‘Expectations’

The Yoga Sutras address a phenomenon all of our minds encounter, without exception. This is the affliction of the mind called the ‘Kleshas’. Out of the five ‘Kleshas’, two apply to the above mentioned examples:

Raga

When we long for a previously beautiful experience to be repeated, and the pain/discomfort felt when it is not: – like last year’s most enjoyable holiday destination, which this year turned out to be a disappointment. Or your exam results this year are poor, after you accelerated in last year’s tests.

Dvesa

When we want to avoid the repetition of previously experienced pain, dislike or discomfort: – like an uncomfortable visit to the dentist or attending a dinner party with the same group of people, one of who’s company we didn’t enjoy in the last gathering.

Is there a way out?

All human minds suffer from these afflictions. We can’t fully avoid the tendency of our mind to attach itself to beautiful or desirable experiences, and the dislike of unpleasant ones. But we can reduce their power to seduce us, by first creating awareness of such desires and attachments, and understanding the workings of our mind. Then with continual yoga practice, reducing their impact by catching them before they fully manifest.

Recognizing the effects of the ‘Kleshas’ through posture practice

As always our posture (asana) practice is a great mirror for the ‘Kleshas’ playing up. Often all the way through the practice, we look forward to doing a posture we very much enjoy. Only to find that when we finally come to it, the body on this particular day is either weaker or stiffer or we are less focused, and the outcome doesn’t match our ‘expectation’ at all. We might be disappointed or even angry or upset.

Equally, we might dread or be fearful of a particular posture all the way through the practice leading up to it. Therefore setting ourselves up for ‘failure’, by partially sabotaging what abilities we do have, in such a posture.

Or the complete opposite, it works out wonderfully and in this case, we have wasted the whole of our practice leading up to this moment, being fearful and not being present during that time.

How can Yoga help?

In all its different forms of practice, be it postures, breathing or meditation, Yoga teaches us to be in the present moment; to go with the ‘flow’. There is perpetual change in all things of this material world, and with flexibility – literally gained through posture practice, and transferred to a mental level, we can easily adapt to a new situation or a changed outcome of the initial expectation.

Breathing exercises provide us with the energy to adapt and cope with the new/different outcome of our efforts. It induces calm and mental clarity – as does meditation– to make the best of the new set of circumstances.

Be in the present moment

Being in the present moment, we can regain a childlike quality of curiosity and adaptability. We can truly savour a beautiful moment when it occurs, living it to its fullest with no thought of ‘I want to come back here for more’, but to just delight in the experience of Now.

Similarly, when we expect an uncomfortable situation, we can be open-minded and view it from many different angles. We can reason with ourselves, and truly stay in the present moment. We see the bigger picture, and simply handle challenges more gracefully.

Yoga enables you to evolve within all of this, and so much more.

Now is the time to get onto the mat

OM Shanti,
Angelika