DP writing challenge: ‘Expectations’ http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/great-expectations/
Expectation is a story comprised of layered thoughts set one on top another like paper mache, glued with emotions such as fear, attachment and pride. Expectation forms like a scab on the surface of our experience. Once scratched it’s flimsy surface tears away, leaving a glimpse of the raw and gory truth inside. This scab is inflexible and tight and leaves a scar. While expectations met bring a measured dose of excitement (enough to feed the addiction), this quickly fades into boredom and apathy. Rapidly the mind, once again, conceives of and re-builds a new set of expectations and associated story lines, unless we should fall for that same old story again – you remember the time I expected chocolate to make me feel better; it made me feel better for awhile; and then it made me sick? I’ve done that more than once!
Expectations come at us from all directions (including from within). Some we make our own. Some we disregard. Where did they all begin? I can only guess not long after birth… ‘I expect to be fed…mwah!’ Who knows, maybe even before?
Other people’s expectations, as heavy as lead, can weigh on us like compound interest. If they support the story of ‘me’ and who I think ‘I’ ought to be (even if that is a negative self-image) then we accept them, believe them and even worship them, infusing them with power, submitting to them like we have no choice.
Expectation can sometimes be ‘hope’. Not aspirational hope that warmly guides us towards a more positive state of being but the hope that eats your stomach lining; gives you insomnia; the one you want to believe in but aren’t quite convinced; and whose close ally is fear.
Expectation can also be stubborn ignorance. ‘How could that have possibly happened? This cant’ happen to me!’ It hides in the shadows, structures our thinking and shapes our experience. Ironically, you may know, through reason, something to be the truth (such as that I will die) but subtly expect some other outcome.
Life can become one great series of misguided expectations, toppling down one after another like a stack of dominoes. The odd one might escape but, largely, they surmount to not much more than a pile of fallen pieces waiting to be rebuilt, lost or put in a box and returned to the cupboard.
What is the best strategy for dealing with expectations? See them, acknowledge how they have shaped your life and dismiss them like you would a stuffed lion that you formerly took for real. They are but transient ideas that we have held onto or feared, put on a pedestal and made offerings to. They are only as powerful as we let them be. Dropping them can be scary at first (especially for the first time) but once we taste the ensuing freedom, that sweet liberation, it is clear what choice to make.
I wasn’t quite happy with ‘anna’s pursuit of happiness’, which is kind of ironic. ‘Pursuing happiness’ places happiness out there somewhere in the future, which doesn’t really work, Why? Because happiness can only exist in the present.If felt too much like a donkey chasing a carrot suspended over it’s nose attached via a rod to it’s own back – hopefully you know the image I’m referring too – always just a bit out of reach! Reading it left me with a subtle sense of insatiability and unease, like I was hankering after something that may not be possible. So, I changed it!
Now I’m ‘experimenting with happiness’ and exploring means for transforming my mind in everyday life. I’m not sure if this title will stick but it is a work in progress.
So, I’ve just spent the last week at Chenrezig Institute (www.chenrezig.com.au) on the Sunshine Coast, QLD, amongst the trees receiving teachings and catching up with family. There was, as always, plenty of opportunity to transform my mind. It’s always a personal favourite working with my reaction to doing what others would like to do if it’s something I feel is pretty dull or time-wasting. It is an excellent opportunity for practicing patience and rejoicing in the happiness of others when going shopping for example! Don’t expect it to be easy at first but keep persisting, reminding yourself of their kindness, seeing this as a wonderful opportunity to stretch your patience muscles and rejoice and be happy that they are happy.
You can just simply observe your thoughts without judgement or following them up with another thought nor pushing them away. Just watch, observe and smile. Of course, you also need to give yourself a pat on the back for giving this a go and affirm your intention to practice regularly. For further information you can check out www.whatmeditationreallyis.com for other useful tips on meditation, which is what this latter technique effectively is.
I also have to remind myself that to many, including family members, my lifestyle is a bit odd and dull. I no longer go out partying, I like to be in bed pretty early and I spend a lot of time sitting still or reciting texts in a language I don’t actually speak! I hang around with other weirdo-meditators obsessing about up-coming retreats (on which I use all my annual leave) and I take pleasure in counting the number of times I bring awareness to the moment throughout the day! However, I wouldn’t have it any other way!