It was a glorious sunny afternoon, and I had a free hour to myself. I decided to take a bike ride, but I got distracted and headed out an hour later than planned.
It started getting cloudy so I decided to check weather.com for the hourly report. It said there was only a 15% chance of rain, with an increasing 20% chance later on. With the odds in my favor, I changed into my bike gear and took off down my driveway.
Within moments, I could feel the rain on my face.
“I won’t have any fun on a wet, soggy ride. It’s not worth it.”
I went back inside, took off my bike gear and commented to my assistant about what had just happened. Truth be told, I complained about the weather (anyone living in the Northeast this year would totally understand what I’m talking about since we’ve had so much rain).
Frustrated, I went back upstairs and proceeded to my desk to get back to work.
I noticed… that it stopped raining.
“The heck with it. I’m going biking!”
Determined and confident, I got my bike gear back on and started going down the stairs when I paused. “Maybe I shouldn’t go biking now because Stephanie will see me again and think I’m crazy. I’ll be embarrassed.” I ignored my inner commentary and proceeded.
Once on my bike, I settled into a comfortable cadence. With the wind at my back, the sun peeked out and illumined the dark gray/blue rain clouds in front of me. It was a brilliant sight. This is a perfect ride. I’m so happy I didn’t stay inside.
About halfway through the ride, the sun came out fully and I felt confirmed that I made the right decision. But then my mind commented, “If I left the house a little later, I would have had this full sunshine the entire ride.” Again, I ignored the commentary. After all, I was enjoying a perfect ride, being totally present in the moment, until that thought skirted across the screen of my mind completely stealing the present moment away from me.
Why couldn’t I just rest in the perfection of the moment?
I was spoiling it by wishing I left later. The mind is a thief. A thief that steals away perfection in the moment. But in an instant, I knew what was happening and I simply chose to let go of the commentary. When I did, I landed right back in the perfection of this moment, the moment of me having a perfect ride on my bike.
Although the clouds came back and took over the sky, I finished the ride without encountering any rain.
Trust your instinct and let go of the commentary.
This is an Ashaya Yoga practice, the absence of which keeps most people from achieving their goals. I have spent nearly 40 years cultivating my yoga practice, and it was eluding me.
My desire was to get a workout on my bike because I have a shared ride coming up in a week and I haven’t ridden much this season. I know I need to get out there and build my endurance.
When I left the first time and it started raining, my commentary won me over and turned me around. However, right when I turned around at the end of my driveway, I looked into my backyard and found myself eye-to-eye with a huge doe (female deer). We both stood there in a lock-down stare. The doe was only 50 feet away. It was completely still and sublimely beautiful. I was transfixed on the beauty of this animal free in the wild. Getting a bit wet, I called off the stare and went inside. Had I not listened to my instinct to return, I would not have seen the doe. That was a special experience I’m grateful for.
You want to achieve your goals?
These two simple actions will help you get there:
- Trust your instinct.
Don’t second guess yourself. It’s always good, of course, to do your research, but if you feel something in your heart, go for it. I checked the hourly weather forecast to bolster my desire to ride. But when it began to rain, my instinct told me to go back inside, which I did. Then I had the nature experience with the doe. Grace.
- Let go of your commentary.
The mind always has commentary much like the ticker tape at the bottom of the screen on any news station. It’s always there. The yogic approach is first to notice that it’s there. Most of the time we aren’t consciously aware that the mind is commenting.
You might find yourself saying things like, “I can’t do that. I don’t have what it takes. I’m crazy. I’m unworthy. There’s no way I can do that. Who am I to do that? I lack the skills, knowledge, experience, etc.” The commentary can be neutral, positive, or negative. The negative commentary is usually related to self-doubt sourced from fear. Sometimes there can be an entire group of voices doubting you. We call those the “itty bitty shitty committee.” These are the voices that keep us small, contracted, limited, safe, and unfulfilled.
Once you recognize your commentary, you need to assess it and discern. Sometimes the commentary is worth listening to… but often it’s not.
Reflection and Practice:
- Take out your journal and reflect on a goal that you have. Begin with a simple goal, something that bears little consequence. What’s something you want to do right now or before the end of the day?
- What is your instinct saying? Your instinct is usually felt in your belly or in your heart. It’s always connected to your deepest desire which is connected to your dharma (your life purpose) and your destiny. What do you feel in your gut?
- What is the negative commentary (if any) running through your mind about your goal? What’s in the way? What self-limiting belief is active right now that’s in the way of you accomplishing your goal?
- Assess the commentary. Is this a time when you need to ignore it? If so, proceed to your desired goal.
While you’re moving toward fulfilling your goal, all along the way, continue to practice the two steps – trust your instinct and let go of the commentary. I assure you that you will achieve your goal.
My reminders for you:
- Don’t give up and don’t give in, or at least don’t give up easily.
- Never let go of your dream. You may, however, need to table it for a while until the right time comes around to fulfill it.
- Following your instinct is the same as following your heart. Living from your instinct is living from your core and from your connection to all parts of yourself and life.
- Sometimes you’ll need to practice discerning between the commentary and your instincts. With practice, you’ll get better at distinguishing between them.
- Sometimes when your commentary is filled with self-doubt and you turn around, something beautiful will be waiting for you. Then you can choose again.
Here’s to your perfect ride, whatever it might be and wherever it may take you.
P.S. I invite you to create a goal for yourself to love yourself by attending my upcoming In-Depth Study/200-Hour Teacher Training (beginning in September in Lenox, MA), my next 300-Hour Teacher Training, or a local workshop. You’ll get plenty of opportunity to practice the two steps to achieving your goal and perhaps even to guide others on their path to self-discovery as well.
You can really love yourself with a week at my 2020 Tropical Retreat in Costa Rica!
What kind of commentary typically gets in the way of attending an in-depth Ashaya Yoga experience like the Costa Rica Retreat? “I could never take the time off. I can’t afford it. Loving myself is indulgent. I’m out of shape and out of practice.” But once you make all of the arrangements and handle the practicalities, I promise that you will be glad you followed your instinct and let go of your commentary! It’s a yogic practice and a life practice.
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