You Don’t Always Get What You Want


I have been meditating on the teachings of those yogis, the Rolling Stones. You don’t always get what you want, but if you try– sometimes– you get what you need. So true.

What is it really that I want, and what is it that I need? The difference can be so minute that it can be hard to tell. The thing is, you can tell if you needed it or just wanted it when you don’t get it.

I have noticed a tendency among yogis to greet any personal struggles or tales of not getting what we want or need with some variation of the consolation “what’s meant to be will be”. Which I don’t think is true. There are many things in the world that are not meant to be—so many that I don’t have to list them. We do not live in the best of all possible worlds. There is great and meaningless suffering and many people are victims of cruelty that I cannot imagine, and I do not agree that it is meant to be.

There is truth in this phrase, but it is not the whole truth.

Sometimes we want things that we don’t need. When we are disappointed in these cases, perhaps it is meant to be. But there’s more to it than that. There’s powerful learning in this disappointment. It’s an opportunity to understand ourselves and our choices more fully. To examine our motivation. Brushing this off cuts off this avenue of exploration.

Our struggles, pain, and disappointment make us stronger so in that sense they are meant to be. As Earnest Hemmingway said: the world breaks everyone and afterwards some are strong at the broken places. A committed yoga practice allows us to be strong where we used to be broken. And to get what we need.

Learning To Meditate

“When your mind finally becomes quiet, the stunning thing that happens is your heart opens.” – A Life Worth Breathing: A Yoga Master’s Handbook of Strength, Grace, and Healing

A couple of weeks ago my yoga instructor announced that we were going to finish the class with 10 minutes of an active meditation followed by 10 minutes of a seated meditation. My first though was, “oh my gawd, what am I going to do for 20 minutes while everyone meditates?” I closed my eyes for the first few minutes, finding my breath, my mind then went on to what I was going to eat for dinner and preceded down my to-do list. About 3 minutes into it, my eyes popped open as I was curious about what the heck everyone else was doing. They were ALL still, quiet and peaceful. All 40 of them were meditating and no one else but me was looking around the room! It became very apparent, that although I feel I am disciplined in my physical practice my mind could use a little TLC.

I have been reading an amazing book titled, A Life Worth Breathing, by Max Strom.  It has really highlighted the benefits of a daily meditation practice as well as a physical practice.  Max Strom believes that while meditation can seem like an inconvenience and unnecessary if already doing yoga regularly, it soon becomes a profound part of daily life. He explains in A Life Worth Breathing that, “meditation can provide direct access to peace, to your most authentic Self, to spirit and to the Universal Consciousness.”

He also lists several good tips on how to start:

– Find a comfortable, quiet place that minimizes the chance of interruption

– Sit for 3 minutes to start and gradually increase the time

– When your mind begins to wander, for example you are thinking about going for dinner, instead of eating in the restaurant envision yourself sitting down in the restaurant and meditating, do this for all day dreams and eventually your mind will just give up and allow you to sit in meditation.- A Life Worth Breathing

– Instead of trying to quiet your thoughts, focus on your heart. Imagine your heart center as being the source of all that is good in the world ( kindness, love, compassion etc.),  breath into it and imagine the exhale releases love into the world.- A Life Worth Breathing

I have committed myself to doing 40 days of  a daily meditation practice. So if I seem more peaceful and more like myself you know why!

JESSICA HAMILTON is a yoga teacher, boot camp instructor and elementary school teacher. She loves writing, reading, healthy vegetarian cooking, and traveling. Starting next week she will be a regular Vancouver Yoga Review blogger. Welcome Jessica!

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