“My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations”
Michael J Fox
Where the magic happens
When J.K. Rowling was sitting in that coffee shop typing out the words that would become Harry Potter’s world, she had no idea that she was creating something that would make her millions and millions of pounds, that the book and characters she was creating would end up being loved by adults and children alike the world over. All she knew was that she had an idea, and that she had to create it. Writing Harry Potter was a work of creative spark and love. The resulting franchise and fortune was the result of a series of events, most of which were the result of decisions made by others. All she could do was write the best book she could, and perfect her ideas, she couldn’t control where they would go once she released them into the world.
Do your best, and leave the rest
The Niyama of Ishwara Pranidhana teaches the idea of surrender and acceptance. It reminds us that we cannot control the outcomes of anything in life, that we can only control our actions. Swami Gitananda used a wonderful catchphrase that summed this up, do your best and leave the rest. We cannot control the end result of anything. All we can do is do the very best we can in any moment, take the steps necessary to create the ideal result, but we have to let go of the actual outcome. I can write a blog post, but I cannot control what happens once it goes out into the world. J.K Rowling wrote a great book, and it would still have been a great book if it hadn’t been a success, but had the chain of events that led to it ‘going viral’ not happened, maybe we wouldn’t know about it.
Let it Be
One of the greatest gifts that Yoga has given me in recent years is not the flexibility in my body, not the improved sleep, or calmer mind, although those are all wonderful.
One of the most amazing things that yoga has done for me is to teach me the importance and value of acceptance.
Acceptance of my failings, and the fallibility of all around me
Acceptance of the fact that I cannot control the behaviour of the people I encounter in my life (my mother had been telling me this for as long as I can remember, but you know how it is with parental wisdom, we only believe it when we hear it from someone else!)
Acceptance of the fact that life will rarely go the way I plan, but I still need to plan.
Acceptance of my emotions, the good, the bad and the ugly crying ones.
And acceptance of the fact that life sometimes sucks, and that even though it might feel unbearable, as George Harrison memorably sang,
Now the darkness only stays at night time
In the morning it will fade away
Daylight is good
At arriving at the right time
It’s not always going
To be this grey
All things must pass
All things must pass away
Discovering the lessons learned
Recently, I have been tested on my learning a lot. A car crash in September less than a week after paying out over £200 for the MOT smarted a lot. The injury and emotional trauma I experienced, while not severe, was debilitating enough to lay me low emotionally.
I was recovering well from that when a fall at the beginning of December saw me on crutches and in a support boot with a broken foot. This, while a seemingly more insignificant obstacle, actually presented me with far more challenges to overcome, both practical and emotional.
I was not able to drive, obviously, so some of my Yoga classes had to be cancelled, some had to be delivered differently, and I became totally dependent on other people to get to them.
Christmas plans, which involved driving to The Cotswolds on Christmas Day clearly weren’t going to happen, so I had to host Christmas for me and my sons for the first time ever. And because Liam needed to be in the Cotswolds on Christmas Day, for the first time in his 22 years, we weren’t together on Christmas Day, our Christmas Day took place on Christmas Eve. I am only starting to know what day it is now, haha!
For my birthday I had planned an epic treat for myself. I was going to Liverpool, to spend my birthday in Beatles tourist heaven. I booked a place on the Magical Mystery tour, booked my accommodation, and had tickets to see a Beatles Tribute Band in the Cavern Club. I was so excited!
Clearly this was no longer a possibility either, so I went to London instead.
I couldn’t walk my dog, and had to pay someone else to do that for me.
I was dependent on other people for transportation and help with the simple things like shopping and even cleaning my house.
I didn’t like it. Not one bit.
Sunshine through the clouds
Old me would have been furious about it. Old Esther would have wallowed in self pity and fury. While I have had moments of great struggle, I have been able to accept the way things are, and look at the positives.
I was still able to deliver most of my classes pre-Christmas, and found that I was still able to do much, even if I had to adapt my teaching and delivery.
I can now, at the age of 46, say that I have done Christmas for my kids, and was able to cook a rather delicious vegan Christmas dinner despite needing crutches to stand for any length of time on Christmas Eve.
The wonderful man who walked my dog also did some fantastic training with her, and I now have a much better behaved dog.
In going to London rather than Liverpool I got to see my brother on Boxing Day, watch a fantastic comedy in the West End (Don Quixote with Rufus Hound and David Threlfall, highly recommended if you like your comedy daft!)
I also, weirdly, got to meet an old course mate I hadn’t seen for 4 and a half years, when I just happened to be standing behind him in the queue in the Hare Krishna restaurant I had my Boxing Day supper in.
I learned that I have some wonderfully supportive friends and family (I did already know that but it is always good to be reminded isn’t it)
And I got to appreciate that sometimes taking the time to rest is exactly what you need to do, and that it is ok.
I will not deny that I was delighted this morning when a doctor told me that I am now ok to drive, and I am thrilled to have my independence back, but I am able to look at the experience with gratitude for some great lessons learned, and some wonderful insights and experiences that I wouldn’t have had if my plans had not been thwarted at every turn in December.
Can you bring more acceptance into your life?
Are you trying to control things too much in your life? Trying to force outcomes only causes anxiety, stress and unhappiness. We live in such an accomplishment focused world that we can easily forget that the end result of any action is not entirely under our control.
When you feel that you are placing great importance on the outcome, try to take a step back, and let it go. As long as you have done all you can in any situation, you will have nothing to blame yourself for if things don’t go to plan. And if you realise that you didn’t, there is a valuable lesson to be learned about how you apply yourself to your activities.
Remember that you cannot control what other people say, think or do, you can only control your response to them (deep breaths will help you with this one sometimes I find!)
When life feels tough, reach out for support, find a safe space to share your worries, but don’t feel that you have to solve all the problems straight away. Sometimes all you can do is accept the problem is there and wait for the solution to come.
And remember that, as another Beatle sang, ‘Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans’.
Take a deep breath……
When you are struggling with overwhelm, stress, other people, deadlines and all the other things that can cause you to feel like you need to control life, deep breathing will help you to relax and let go.
In this webinar, I teach you 5 breathing practices that will help you to take control of your emotions and release tension and stress.
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