Yoga can be understood as both the state and the tools to meet ourselves right when and where we are. However, for most of us, any time we attempt to meet ourselves where we are, we find that it is quite difficult for us to be fully present because our mind is usually preoccupied with never-ending thoughts, ideas, plans, memories, regrets, fears, etc. In other words, it is difficult for us to be fully engaged with the moment we are in because our mind is already filled with other, seemingly more important or pressing, matters. For instance, every time we try to practice some aspect of yoga, we may notice how it takes some time for us to overcome the tendency of our mind to continue moving in the direction it was moving. It is important to note that this is absolutely normal, particularly when we consider that we have been training our mind to keep running tabs on an ever expanding list of things.
Of course, every time that we notice our mind’s pattern we can choose to feel frustrated by our lack of mind control. Instead, the yogic way could be to try to notice what is it that we are choosing to give our attention and energy to. Once we identify this tendency or pattern, we can determine if it is helpful or not. If the activity helps us feel more balanced, vibrant and integrated, we can choose to keep the pattern. On the other hand, if the pattern is not helpful we can try to notice it and to drop it.
One fascinating pattern i have noticed in my own way of thinking and acting is the habit to predict what will happen. Upon noticing how prevalent this pattern was in me, i decided to be curious about it and to explore the pattern itself to establish, through direct experience, if this tendency to predict contributes or not to enhance the quality of my participation in my own life. What i have found, is that i have NEVER EVER been accurate in predicting the future. Even when running a simple test, like trying to predict what will happen in a few hours, i am just not good at it at all. When i look back, i am keenly aware that i would have never been able to predict my life and how it has unfolded.
In addition, the tendency to want to predict how things will go has less than desirable side effects. First, it generates expectations, also known as switching into “should” mode. Once, i have made up my mind about what i think will happen, i notice that my mind starts generating statements about what should happen. This is would be a logical development, and it would be useful, if only i were good at predicting. But, mind you, i am not good at predicting at all! Second, each prediction very easily generates an assumption that, “since i think i know what will happen, i do not need to pay attention.” Thus, the prediction also becomes a recipe to not being present, which contributes to not paying attention and to not noticing the connections between my actions and their effects.
Upon considering this simple idea: i have a tendency to predict what will happen, I learned that i am not good at it. Furthermore, i learned that my predictions generate expectations and their related frustrations as well as a tendency to not be present. This is clearly a pattern, indeed a habit, that is certainly not useful, and, honestly, a waste of my energy. So, i have been in the process of turning this pattern around, first by paying attention and noticing every time that i try to predict the future. Then, i pause and take a breath and i remember that it makes no sense to do something that has never worked.
So far, it seems to be working, and the energy that i don’t waste on predicting and frustration is available to me to be more present in whatever i am doing. Of course, as with any other habit cultivated over a long period of time, there is a tendency to switch into prediction mode, especially when we are distracted or tired. At those times, it is helpful to persist with patience and kindness towards ourselves.
Upon further reflection, I have come to realize that accepting and embracing that i am not good at predicting is actually essential to witnessing the newness and uniqueness of life as it blooms right in front of our eyes at every single moment. What an amazing gift! I am very happy that I am not good at predicting.
I am curious, are you good at predicting?