Beginning a new year often brings forth a review of our expectations and I thought it might be a good idea to briefly examine this topic. As with many concepts in our culture, we tend to fall well short of fully appreciating what these terms truly suggest and at times, the apparent contradictions that they may evoke. This is certainly the case with the word expectations. Are they to be valued and embraced or do they impede us and distort our life experiences? The answer depends on a host of things. One size doesn’t typically fit all and we need to look at how we employ the word expectations. From the perspective of some spiritual traditions we should be disinclined to attach to expectations as they may block our direct experience of life and impose a bondage of belief upon us. Traditional western values that inculcate and reward achievement honor high expectations, for they drive our culture and our economy.
I was in the middle of a challenging stretch in a yoga class recently, when the instructor encouraged us to come into the edge. Move beyond the boundary of our comfort zone, was how I interpreted her coaxing. She was suggesting that moving to the edge of what our muscle memory was comfortable with, would propel us into physical if not spiritual growth. Coming to the edge in yoga provides the body with a new or forgotten experience. As we age our bodies tend to mold into habit and conformity which leads to a constriction of our being. Clearly, stretching into some new flexibility seemed wise. I reflected that this was also precisely what we need with our thinking.