January 1st. Goal Setting. The two go together like peanut butter and jelly, or truffle oil and popcorn. In fact, it seems odd for this time of year to not take time to write out goals or at the very least have an internal proclamation of betterment in some area of life. My goal here (no pun intended) is to bring your attention to the greatest of all pit-falls when it comes to goal setting. Now for those of you that have a goal to incorporate yoga into your life – today is off to a great start, as we are going to do just that!
These two yogic principals, taken from the Yoga Sutras, have the ability to change your perspective and potentially the outcome of 2015 for you, if you take them into consideration. Let me state this as clearly as I can; these two concepts can save you tons of heartache, disappointment, and lack of fulfillment. To set the stage, I will start by a quote said in the opening of the Desperate Housewives series years ago, by Eva Longoria’s character; “I got everything I wanted in life, unfortunately I wanted all the wrong things.”
So, where do we go wrong? Should we stop wanting things altogether? Should we only want what is right for us? And who decides what that is? Should we all get on e-bay and try to find the last remaining Magic 8 balls? Or do we all need a personal psychic who can tell us the direction we should be headed in, or the decisions we should be making? I do know this; we have all had a goal, only to achieve it and be left with a feeling that is less than what we had hoped. If that has ever been the case…take a deep breath, clear your mind…now keep reading.
Two core principles: Practice / Abhyasa and Non-Attachment / Vairagya are the two core principles on which the entire system of Yoga rests. It is through the cultivation of these two that the other practices evolve, by which mastery over the mind field occurs, and allows the realization of the True Self.
1. Abhyasa/Practice: Abhyasa means having an attitude of persistent effort to attain and maintain a state of stable tranquility. To become well established, this needs to be done for a long time, without a break. From this stance the deeper practice continues to unfold, going ever deeper towards the direct experience of the eternal core of our being.
2. Vairagya/Non-Attachment: The essential companion is non-attachment, learning to let go of the many attachments, aversions, fears, and false identities that are clouding the True Self.
Now let’s apply this to goal setting, and the goals that ultimately get us nowhere. Abhyasa to me is – Intention. This is not something you do for 10 minutes a day. This is a way of life. Being very clear about what needs to be done in order to get where you want to go.
Now this where the wheels fall off the cart for many… “Where you want to go.” So let’s bring in Vairagya and I’m going to add one more critical word to the list above… Outcome. We become so attached to the outcome that we lose sight of the only thing that actually mattered…the why behind it. When you set that goal or intention, be VERY clear about what you think that goal will bring you. How will it make you feel? How will it better you as a person? How does it contribute to your True Nature and your purpose for being here? And most importantly, how does this goal contribute to others? Now from this point, do not be attached to the goal, become connected to the feeling it will bring you.
They work together: Practice leads you in the right direction, while non-attachment allows you to continue the inner journey without getting sidetracked into the pains and pleasures along the way.
You see, the reality is you are setting your goal based solely on the information that you currently have at hand. I can assure you, there is far more possibility out there waiting for you than what you could ever plan for or goal-set around. So, what you have to remain open to, is everything that comes your way that is aligned with the feeling your original goal gave you. Every day, Practice/Abhyasa mindfully into who you need to be in order to move closer to your intended feeling. That is the only way you will know if what you are doing is actually moving you closer or farther from what you want. And in this Practice, come from the space of complete Vairagya/Non-Attachment to the outcome. Remembering that the outcome you envisioned is limited by your current reality. Let that go.
Try this out – just for today:
Today I will practice remaining in the state of _________________. This will move me closer to my goal of feeling more_____________________, which is my True Nature and purpose in life.
And if you want to test it, the next time you have a bad day, or you don’t feel the way you would like, odds are you either left the state of Abhyasa and allowed something or someone to distract you from your mindfulness to your intention, or you have lost the concept of Vairagya, and become so attached to your goal that you have lost yourself along the way.
I wish for you the openness to all of the possibility that 2015 offers you. May this be your best year yet, and may your light shine even brighter for all those who need it.
With sincere, heartfelt gratitude for your feedback, love and contribution,