Thursday, March 24, 2011

More on Aim

Well, I am home and enjoying myself so far. Kelly picked me up from the airport and we took a walk around Lady Bird Lake before having a date at The Paggi House nearby. All in all, a great welcome home and a chance for he and I to celebrate his birthday which happened while I was away.

I came home very inspired from my travels and with lots of fun stories to tell about my various learnings and experiences. I really gained a lot at these last Immersions. I set my intention to "cultivate love, gratitude and to serve from my Heart" and I worked with that theme a lot as the weeks went on. I think that is the thing about intentions and aim- for it to be a useful tool, we have to commit to it and really apply ourselves to it. That was one of my major insights of the trip. Of course it sounds obvious, but I like I experienced it at a new level.

It is so easy to get lulled into a perspective that boils down to wanting and expecting life to go our way. ( I call this the Burger King mentality which, when applied to life, is more like a fantasy than it is a viable perspective or useful context.) Don't get me wrong here, I love it when things go according to what I want and I love getting my way. I really do. No problem. And, for the record, I have nothing against that, its just that as a conscious or unconscious expectation for how life should be, it's more than a bit limited and sets us up to be consumers of life, not students of life and encourages us to be victims of our experience not authors of an enlightened response to circumstance.

If I am expecting that life is going to give me what I want when I want in the way that I want, then I am treating the mystery of grace like I am at Burger King and generally difficulty and disappointment and mistakes, when viewed from this perspective will seem like "things going wrong". But when I am committed to an intention for growth and transformation, then these difficulties are put into a larger context of learning and Remembrance. And this is a difference that can make all the difference.

The hard part is when it actually happens and we are faced with the choice of working through these obstacle with accountability or falling into a pattern of blame and disappointment that "things didn't work out." It takes a lot to live outside of blame. It really does. It's tentacles insidiously reach into all the nooks and crannies of experience and beg us to see things as wrong and see ourselves as victims rather than participants.

Truth be told, there are times when we are victims and we are at the affect of very negative actions that are done to us and with mal- intent behind them. I am not saying that are responsible for those things. That is another consideration for another time. I am saying that we are responsible for our response to these misdeeds and to moving beyond a state of ongoing blame and over time moving beyond our anger so that the anger does not become lingering resentments that poison our consciousness. I am not saying it is easy and I am not saying it comes naturally. I am saying we work on it as a practice and that is what makes us yogis.

Aim and intention, when viewed in this way, is not an exterior, self-imposed kind of goal setting process set in motion to produce a new and improved model of ourselves. Aim, to me, is not about putting myself into some box of pre-determined expectations and formulas of how to "do it right". No, aim is about listening to my Heart enough to hear what it wants - really wants- and to claim those impulses as real, valuable and even necessary. That is what fuels aim, really, Necessity. There is really nothing more profound to me than when any of us reach a point when we can not go one second further into the future without some vital part of ourselves included in the journey. Claiming ourselves in this way, claiming our Heart in this way, is what aim is all about.

And when we claim our Heart, commit to our aim and funnel our life through our deeper intentions, everything changes and we become students of life, not consumers. We become authors of our responses, not victims of our circumstances. We get a chance to learn from what is happening and not just be annoyed or pleased by what life is offering us. All kinds of difficulty is made useful and is elevated in these efforts.

There is a teaching in Tantra about turning poison to nectar and about how everything can become a doorway to the Heart. I love that teaching. It is one of my favorites. As a person who suffers from many manifestations of perfectionistic thinking, it has always been a comforting idea. The more I consider the teaching, however, the more I realize that the teaching begs the question, "Am I?" Am I really using the difficulty or am I complaining about it? Am I really learning from my misdeed or am I rationalizing my behavior? Am I digesting this poison or am I just getting intoxicated? (keep in mind here that blame, self-hatred, self criticism and all those malified mindsets can be as addictive and habit-forming as any drug) and so on.

To me, the teaching around aim and intention is fundamental for making use of difficulty and turning poison into nectar and it's big on my mind these days. I have recently been considering a difficult relationship I have had in which both of us have been hurt by the other. Sorting out my leftovers feelings in light of all the difficulty has taught me and all that it has required of me has been enlightening. It's a tightrope, really because in truth, I also feel a bit used in the relationship and there is a fair amount of evidence to support that perspective and blame lurks right round the corner waiting for an opportune moment to get back in the discussion. And yet, that being what it is, the very nature of the difficulty elevated me in ways that I am very grateful for, that invited me to rise to new levels of clarity and integrity and as a result of the work the difficulties with this person asked of me, I am a better person in a lot of ways because of the conflicts.

Obviously more could be said, but that is what tomorrow is for!


kwajnman said...

I am worried that working with attitude and intentionmeans that you take and are given responsibility for your own state of mind and health. Also for the things that were either too big for you to handle or completely out of your hands, happened by accident or caused by other people or by your genetic disposition or because you grew up the wrong place or are unavoidable because you live in the 21.cent in a big city. If it comes down to ‘ it is my own fault because I have not been positive enough’ or if your surroundings blame you for not having the right attitude it can lead to what is happening here in Denmark . People who cannot lose enough weight are not eligible for certain operations. Treatment is withheld from people who can’t stop smoking or drinking. People who can’t find the strength and attitude to change their ways are being penalized this way. I understand that the guy who has lung cancer should stop smoking, but what if he can’t… does that mean he only has himself to blame? What if I am so angry about losing my legs in Iraq war that every day is hell? I probably know that my life would be better with a good attitude but I can’t really get to the point where I thank for having lost my legs and say that I have learned so much from my injuries?
I have never been able to reconcile these ideas. I blogged for a couple of years on Yogajournal and read thousands of messages and blogs from people who thought that working with intention and attitude meant that they had to be upbeat about everything even the worst problems so I know that this is not a negligible problem. But I don't know what can be done either.
All the best and thank you for good provoking blogs.

EllenK said...

Well you know how things find you at exactly the right time? This post found me at a very receptive moment. Thanks for putting this out there Christina. Between the Wednesday practice and your blog, I am a lucky person to get to learn from you.