Teaching in Kathmandu, Nepal
Is having expectations aligned with Yoga and Buddhist practice? This may surprise you but YES, YES, AND YES!
First let’s examine the definition of the word:
Expectation: A strong belief that something will be the case or happen in the future.
I hear all the time, “But I don’t have expectations Sati…I didn’t have expectations Sati…” As if not having any expectations makes us better yogis and places us closer to liberation and freedom. In truth, not having expectations can be a huge problem and cause one to wander aimlessly without direction. All spiritual systems, including Yoga, are built around expected outcomes! If not, there would be no system at all! So expectations are not counterproductive to your mind training, body training, or heart training. It’s being attached and grasping (both being incarnations of fear and delusion) to the expectation that is. THAT IS THE DIFFERENCE.
You live every moment with expectations but they are so close and imbedded in your modes of being that you don’t question them. You expect for sound to leave your mouth when you open your mouth to speak. You expect the ground to be solid when you step on it. From the minor to the profound, from gross to subtle, expectation is part of your daily existence. And a very valuable part. Expectation is the natural result of your previous life experience being stored in your memory and as such can hinder or help you in the present moment—depending on how you use it.
So how did the word and idea of expectation get such a bad rap? Well, I can only imagine because most people don’t know how to differentiate between expectation and attachment. Those who do are living teachers in terms of being able to discriminate between the various forces that influence their thought and behavior. Those who do are REALLY practicing yoga.
So, examine the expectations you have. And then examine the emotional and psychological current that is motivating the action. Is it desperate? Is it neutral? Is it loving? Is it inspired? Be motivated. Act. Move forward with a heartfelt expectation—just don’t grasp at it. If expectations are beliefs surrounding the fruits of your actions, then there is no conflict. Only when you grasp at the fruit and the outcome do you realize that you have sacrificed the dexterity of your serenity and your ability to flow and adapt. This is something you can practice moment to moment every day. This is yoga practice on and off the mat.
Enjoy your practice.