When You Just Can't Seem To Get It Right
Feel like somethings missing from your life? Feeling disconnected? …like your life is not as fulfilling as it could be… as it should be? If you feel like you’re missing out on life… it’s because you probably are.
I think it was that feeling that drew me to yoga the most. Always in my head, figuring things out, worrying about the future, rewinding events and intellectualizing what happened were all habits of mine - patterns of my ego.
There are a plethora of self-help books and programs on how to motivate yourself to start that business or write your book or get organized, more productive or you-name-it. And sometimes that works. If what you need is motivation or something to do, those kinds of books are wonderful.
But if your aching is coming from somewhere deeper, something more fundamental than that, self-help and motivational books and programs will only give you something to do while life continues to pass you by.
Typically, when you feel like you’re missing out on happiness, you’ll go in search of it, however you perceive that to look. Some will be searching for that perfect someone to fulfill them. Others may be looking for the ultimate career, superb training, utopian vacation or new purpose. But if you get there and still have that old familiar gnawing inside telling you you’re missing out, you’re not enough, or something just isn’t right, then what?
It may be time to consider a more counter-intuitive approach.
Rather than constantly trying to fill the void with more, (more money, more success, more possessions, more effort) try being present in that emptiness, without judgment, without criticism, without angst. Sit with your own longing the way you might show up for a friend.
How do you do that? Imagine your hand, relaxed and open, a butterfly resting there. Like that. That is how you sit with your aching, your hurts, your fears, your longing; with openness and equanimity, curiosity and awareness.
While you sit, let your thoughts and feelings come and go without trying to control anything, the way physical sensations and sounds in and around the room continually come and go, shift and change. Practice being present in uncomfortable situations as easily as you can in comfortable ones.
Often when you feel like you are missing out on life what you are really missing out on is what’s right in front of you (and all around you). That continual leaning into something more takes you away from what is and holds your awareness hostage in a state of longing.
When you are sitting with your longing, and you notice how it comes and goes, open your awareness to include everything else in and around you - thoughts, sensations, emotions, traffic sounds, wind, people or animals in the area. Be present and quiet with life as it unfolds, without needing to change or fix it.
There is a zen story of a man who studied with all the great teachers he could find. When he heard about a famous zen master on a remote mountainside he went to find him. After much ado he was able to schedule a visit. Naturally, he was hoping to study with this master. When he arrived, the master welcomed him in and offered to make some tea. While he was preparing the tea, the man introduced himself and told the master of all his experience and all the teachers he’s studied with. When the tea was ready, the master gave the man a cup and began pouring. The man continued, on and on, talking and talking about himself, his experiences, his skill level, his practices. The master poured tea into the cup and continued pouring over the rim and onto the floor at which point the man stopped his dialog and started shouting “Whoa! Whoa! That’s enough!” But still, the master poured more. “What are you doing?!? Why are you pouring tea all over when my cup is already full?” The master said “You are like that cup. You are so full, there is no room for me to give you more. Go away and empty yourself before returning.”
Instead of reaching for more to buy, more to do, or something to take your mind off your feelings and thoughts, simplify your life and take time for stillness. Let yourself empty out. Have some space between activities and conversations to expand into the silence. Create some balance in your life between doing and being. Step out into the night to enjoy the stars, the fireflies, the night sounds, the air. As you practice in this way you will start to appreciate life on a whole new level. You will hear more, see more, feel more, and find a fundamental fulfillment in the simple things in your life. Guaranteed.