As I teach more and more yoga I see more and more behaviours on the mat related to stress, striving, winning, comparing, judging, hurrying, fear, impatience, lack of confidence, grief, and I could go on and on and on.
I know that my students reflect my attitudes and behaviours too and thanks to them I have learned more about myself than any personal development book/wise man/guru could teach me!
In doing so, it has taken me some years to understand how many of these behaviours stem from the need/desire to be “successful”‘. What on earth is that? If you ask Western children today, what do they want to be when they grow up…..often the response is to be ‘famous’! As a small child I don’t recall ever wanting to be famous for the sake of it! (Infamous maybe but not famous). It’s true that success wears many cloaks but having thousands of Facebook friends doesn’t cut it for me.
What is success to you? I recently was in the home of a lovely friend who pointed out how successful her husband was because of what he had provided for she and her family, but didn’t see, in any way, her so-called success. Apart from the fact that I was sitting in a stunningly, beautifully designed home, speaking to her charming son, and having just walked through a garden fit to be in Vogue Living (all produced, designed and nourished by her I might add), she saw her husband as successful but not herself. In fact she sees herself as not ambitious, nor driven and yet she ambles through life creating a magnificent haven/ambience for her family. Success? Surely!
Yes money can certainly be a sign of success if put to good use but so too can the creation of a garden. For what is more beautiful? A dollar note or a rose?
And how blessed can you be to not feel as though you have to strive every day? Have you considered what it is like just to be, to potter, to be present? Ask someone who has been given one year to live, what success is? I did this week. And the answer was simply, to live in the present with those I love’. End of subject.
And sometimes I play a beautiful piece of music in my classes which is interrupted for a split second with these words…”When our bones turn to dust the two most important things in life will have been how much we loved and how much we gave”.
Some years ago I visited mother Theresa’s (now St. Theresa’s) homes in Pashupatinath (Nepal) and Pondicherry (India) and experienced first-hand (whilst being humbled to my very core) what she created in her life and what these lively, little nuns (yes they all seem little) do for the disabled, poor, abandoned etc. Giving and loving – in a nutshell.
Surely these are the two greatest qualities of the human race? Surely what stems from these is happiness. And isn’t being happy – success?
Oh if we all just loved and gave…..what an idealist I am!
So when you feel you are not ‘successful’, think again or plant a tree! That will do it.
Such a small gift to the earth can give shade, safety and joy and all it takes is a thought, a seedling and a moment in time.
“To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition, to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded”.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
These words of Emerson’s were on the back of our toilet door when I was growing up (obvs. to inspire a few moments of quiet contemplation while we happened to be sitting still for a few brief moments). I still carry this – in card form – in my purse. It sums up everything Mum taught us. x
Think again, or plant a tree. I love that! x