You know that Rolling Stones song, You Can’t Always Get What You Want? Well, that song has been the theme of my spiritual journey over the last year and a half. Ready for some irony? That song and that band, were introduced to me by a guy who I very badly wanted, but never got. What does this have to do with Yoga you may be asking yourself? Well, the answer is very simply EVERYTHING. As the song goes,… “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you NEED”. That is EXACTLY what I have gotten out of my yoga practice over the last year and a half of my life. The realization that while I may not have gotten the exact life that I wanted, I have in fact gotten the exact life that I NEED.
Flashback to my twenties, early and late,…I wanted all kinds of things. I wanted a really nice car. I wanted really nice clothes. I wanted this one guy. You know that one guy, it had to be him. He was the only guy for me. I was sure of it. He wanted a different girl. I was devastated. But, then I found a different guy. Yep, this guy was the guy. I wanted to get married. I wanted my wedding to be picture perfect. I wanted to be the thinnest, most glamorous bride to ever walk down an aisle. I wanted to have a perfect house with the perfect furniture that looked straight out of a design magazine, with a beautifully landscaped yard in a neighborhood of my choosing. I wanted to start having babies right after we got married. I wanted all of it to happen on my timetable. It didn’t. It did all happen, but not on my timetable. It didn’t all look exactly like I wanted it to, but it was pretty darn close. I should have been happy. I wasn’t. I wanted the next thing and the next and the next. Better clothes. Better car. Better, nicer house in a better, nicer neighborhood, my new idea of the perfect neighborhood of course.
This cycle of always wanting the next big thing is one that most of us human beings are familiar with. We think we will finally be happy when we get that one person, lose 5 lbs, get the newest iphone, etc. Getting these new things does make us happy too, for about 5 minutes. Then, we start thinking about the next thing we want. We very quickly forget that we told ourselves we would be so happy with that new car and never want for anything else ever again. This is human nature. The reality of life of course is that we can’t always get everything that we want. No person that I know has everything that they want. Nobody. OK, maybe Jay Z has everything he wants, I guess that is feasible. I don’t know him personally, so maybe. Maybe Jay Z has everything. Maybe. Or, more likely, he is just like all of us. He keeps wanting and wanting. Where does this “cycle of wanting” get us? Does it ever finally bring us the happiness we seek? The answer is a resounding NO! It is a never-ending cycle and it will not lead to your happiness. It will not.
Let’s get to the “If you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need” part of the song shall we? If you read my first blog post for The Yoga Bar, you know that I am now divorced. I no longer have the husband, or the house, or the yard. But I do have absolutely EVERYTHING in life that I NEED. I have my children. They are the lights of my life. They are weird and wild and funny and sweet and amazingly loving children and I am beyond blessed to have them. Beyond blessed and beyond grateful. I have an apartment that is tiny, but full of love and legos and children and a dog that is my constant companion. I have clothes to wear and food to eat and a job that I freaking LOVE. I get to work with and be inspired by some of the most amazingly wise and giving and loving women on the planet. I have amazingly supportive Mommy friends. I am loved by them. So, by all of those criteria, as I stated earlier, I have everything I need.
Let’s go deeper though. Let’s get to the yoga part of this. One of my all time favorite people on the planet is Pema Chodron and this is one of my all time top ten favorite quotes of hers...
"Our life's work is to use what we have been given to wake up. If there were two people exactly the same-same body, same speech, same mind, same mother, same father, same house, same food, everything the same- one of them could use what he has to wake up and the other could use it to become more resentful, bitter, and sour. It doesn't matter what you are given, whether it's a physical deformity or enormous wealth or poverty, beauty or ugliness, mental stability or mental instability, life in the middle of a mad house or life in the middle of a peaceful silent desert. Whatever you're given can wake you up or put you to sleep. That's the challenge of now: what are you going to do with what you have already-your body, your speech, your mind?"
What I have realized over the last year and a half of my life, through my yoga practice is that the path to true and unending happiness in life is not to be found in the “cycle of wanting”. All that stuff that I wanted in my 20’s, that stuff was never going to make me happy. Because stuff and people cannot be what my happiness depends on. The greatest gift that I have ever received from the universe, god, whatever, is YOGA. Yoga introduced me to the practice of Svadyhaya, or self study. Through that practice, I learned that I already have within me, in my being, my soul, my spirit, EVERYTHING that I will ever NEED to be happy in this life. I found that beyond my boys and the basic necessities that I need to live, that I can sit in meditation and calm my wild mind and find peace and happiness deep within. That happiness is to be found in the present moment, NOT in the future when we have X,Y & Z. Happiness is to be found by accepting my life as it is right now. Happiness for me is to be found in the quiet moments at the end of the day where I am all snuggled up with my boys in their bunk beds reading the origin stories of various super heros or talking about boogers or farts or whatever little boy thing they want to talk about. Not just then though, but even in the stressful moments with my boys. All of it, not just the calm, happy, picture perfect moments, but in the screaming child who needs comforted moments as well. Through this practice of self study, svadyhaya, I finally did what Pema Chodron was talking about, I finally WOKE UP. Sure I still want things. I still want the latest pair of yoga pants from Lululemon. Sure, I still have dreams of maybe someday getting married again. But here is the thing, I am not going to wait to be happy until I get those things. I am going to be happy right now without all those things. Happy. Right. Now.