The Balance – Between Past and Future

In the modern fast-paced world, where we expect results instantly, we often forget how to feel ourselves in our bodies, breathe, and slow down. We shun our capacity to feel and let our bodies operate on autopilot, taking over most of the decision-making process, so we can just move on from one task into another, and then another. Like a conveyor belt that keeps churning without even realising the last time it had a break. We forget how to give ourselves time to digest events, time to listen to our inner voice and our own feelings.

Anglesey Abbey October 2015

There is an inner chatter going on in our heads about what we should and what we shouldn’t do, and what we could have done but  didn’t. We judge ourselves on whether we have done enough, whether it is us or somebody else that screwed up. We expect ourselves to perform more to a higher standard. Wondering why one expectation crashed but the other didn’t, thinking about a third and trying to figure out how to avoid it from crashing down again. We have lost the ability to see the big picture, that actually, whatever or whoever was at fault, now it doesn’t matter. The event had already taken place. And the future where we abandon our dreams in a distant horizon hasn’t materialised. We are swaying like pendulums, between regrets and expectations, from failures to dreams, from both extremes of past and future, and we forget that here we are, still standing in this moment. On the same Earth where all our past happened and under the same sky where we hang our dreams.

Bird of paradise

We are fixated on our perception of what we really need to make our life complete. We spend all our efforts to plan, create and recreate to align with this perception of our ideal future. The perception of what we must have, that we couldn’t life without, that if we don’t have it our life will be empty. We draw up long lists of things to make this perception come true. And on that long list, we forget at least two things. It’s the breathing and the happiness because what is a body without the breath? It is just a corpse. And what is a life without happiness? It is just torture.

We are so blinded by the glitter of our perception of that ideal future that we miss the opportunity to enjoy the moment. Persistently, we keep wanting what we don’t have and taking for granted what we do. Things that we do have that some other people don’t, and will probably never have. But in this moment we have the time and opportunities that will never come back again. We can’t comprehend how we should be more appreciative of what is right here right now.

The story of the past is a unique story for everyone. There may be tears, disappointment, memories in our hearts that have glued together. There may be laughter, love, fulfilment. There may have been people that have really touched our hearts – we might still be able to see their fingerprints on it. Their faces might be blurred as we walk further forward, but we will always remember how they made us feel.

Yoga poses at Kebun Raya

Those experiences, feelings, we lock them inside us, rarely allowing them the time to come to the surface. We are afraid to let them surface even once, as it may lead to other uncomfortable truths. It’s Pandora’s box. But we need to honour all our experiences, even the painful ones. Because only in that moment we learn the strength to get back up and try again. To stand up, collecting the last pieces of our heart, and move on. Only then we can admit we had been broken into an unimaginable array of pieces, inhaling every last bit of pain, realising there is no other expectation other than taking one step at a time. By receiving and understanding our limitations, we can grow beyond anything we knew previously.

The future is the path we are taking in the belief that it would lead us towards happiness. But what is happiness? Without being really sure what it is, we often expect it to envelop us once we have attained certain things we currently desire, be it the best work opportunities, the best house, the best dress, or the best yoga poses. But in life, there is no such thing. Once we reach the end of that thread of desire, we realise how short-lived the feeling of ‘happiness’ is. We are seeking one achievement after another, goal after goal, milestone after milestone, but happiness is still far away. We forget that each goal we reach, each milestone, signifies that we have developed in some way. As we hike the path we have chosen, we progress towards learning. We consciously take each step on the path leading towards our chosen destination, harvesting the persistence and the patience to keep on track no matter the obstacles, all the while being grateful and appreciative of what we have achieved thus far.  Only when we can see eye to eye with ourselves, then we can find our contentment. Once we let ourselves free from the knots of the past, and the pulling strings of the future, then we can truly see how the journey is making us stronger, better.

Kundiasana 2

So next time we are in a yoga class, rather than trying to recreate an Instagram shot of some distant celebrity out of context, perhaps we might try to look into what has been left unsaid. Behind every such photograph there are real people bringing their stories, their frustration, their wounded inspiration and pieces of a broken heart and unfolding it onto their mats in tears, sweat, pain, laughter, hours of dedication and practice, understanding and mastering their bodies and their minds, persistently and patiently. We can learn from them to harness our own patience and persistence, to improve our practice. Not because we demand an instant result, but because we commit to taking the journey of learning our own body, our own mind. Untying the knots of the past, releasing the silver thread of expectations and judgements of the future, and taking the journey of the moment.

What we have, whether we think it is enough or not, is often dependent on our perceptions. We can always complain and wish to have more, but we could also have less. When I was growing up, my Mum used to say: “If you keep looking above you, will hurt your neck and you will always see a lot of things to reach for. Peaks after peaks, mountains after mountains, the sky is limitless. This way we will never feel that we’re enough. So let’s learn to be kind to ourselves, and instead focus on our track, and appreciate how much we have gained and how far we have walked”.
So let us learn to be grateful for what we have. To be persistent yet patient, to keep moving forward one step at a time. Let us keep our courage alive and let the fear push us out of our comfort zone. We have all been scarred, some deeper than others. Let us not waver in our intention to be kind, especially towards ourselves, and not be judgmental. Between past and future, there is a balance. Learn from the past, walk towards the future but LIVE only in the present.

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