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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Meeting Our Own Expectations: Doing the Best You Can

It isn't always easy to meet the expectations we hold ourselves to. We may find ourselves in a situation such as just finishing a relaxing yoga class or meditation retreat, a serene session of deep breathing, or listening to some calming, soul-stirring music, yet we have difficulty retaining our sense of peace. A long line at the store, slow-moving traffic, or another stressful situation can unnerve you and leave you wondering why the tranquility and spiritual equilibrium you cultivate is so quick to dissipate in the face of certain stressors. You may feel guilty and angry at yourself or even feel like a hypocrite for not being able to maintain control after practicing being centered. However, being patient with yourself will help you more in your soul's journey than frustration at your perceived lack of progress. Doing the best you can in your quest for spiritual growth is vastly more important than striving for perfection.

Just because you are devoted to following a spiritual path, attaining inner peace, or living a specific ideology doesn't mean you should expect to achieve perfection. When you approach your personal evolution mindfully, you can experience intense emotions such as anger without feeling that you have somehow failed. Simply by being aware of what you are experiencing and recognizing that your feelings are temporary, you have begun taking the necessary steps to regaining your internal balance. Accepting that difficult situations will arise from time to time and treating your reaction to them as if they are passing events rather than a part of who you are can help you move past them. Practicing this form of acceptance and paying attention to your reactions in order to learn from them will make it easier for you to return to your center more quickly in the future.

Since your experiences won't be similar to others' and your behavior will be shaped by those experiences, you may never stop reacting strongly to the challenging situations you encounter. Even if you are able to do nothing more than acknowledge what you are feeling and that there is little you can do to affect your current circumstances, in time you'll alter your reaction to such circumstances. You can learn gradually to let negative thoughts come into your mind, recognize them, and then let them go. You may never reach a place of perfect peace, but you'll find serenity in having done your best.

-From the Daily Om wesite.

James: I've been cycling like mad again lately with my bipolar and it's been exhausting. Thus it's been difficult for me to feel peaceful or centered. I've been working with my psych on adjusting meds and it's not been easy to pin down but i'm hanging in there. I've also been hard on myself about not meditating as regularly as I usually do because of all this upheaval with my mental illness so this is exactly what I needed to hear right now. I hope you will find it useful too.

I pray to Avalokiteshvara for the strength to carry on.

-Peace to all beings-

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9 comments:

theycallmemac said...

Hang in there James, sometimes life can certainly be tough but what fun would it be if it was all as easy as we think we'd like it to be? As usual, very good posting today!

Sunyata said...

Thank you for this sharing James.
I find your blog most beneficial and beautiful. Doing my best is one of those things I struggle with as I am often 'all or nothing'. Balance, gentle striving, equals peace and harmony.
This I wish for you too.
Take good care.

Peace and Blessings

Belly said...

James, as always, excellent timing! I struggle a great deal with perfectionism and learning patience and acceptance of my imperfect self has been one of my biggest challenges. It IS one of my biggest challenges. I cycle between not doing something because I cannot do it 'perfectly' and doing something but burning myself out on it trying to make it 'perfect' - not really a balanced approach to living I have found ;)
Thank you for the gentle reminder that the journey is not about perfection.

Take care

"James" said...

Mac:

Thanx. Life is what it is any whatever given moment we find ourselves. You are correct that we can not know joy without going through some pain to understand what true joy is made of.

Sunyata:

You're quite welcome. I appreciate your compliments regarding my humble blog. What is most gratifying for me is knowing that people are benefiting from my blog.

Thank-you for that beautiful wish. I know that balance will be realized again. I appreciate your support.

Belly:

I know that cycle well. May you always know peace and balance...as may I and all beings.

Belly said...

James, I have linked this post as well as shared the content on my blog.

Thank you again for all that you share - it has meant a great deal to me.

Take care

taza said...

ahhhhhh....breathing out.

i was brought to silent tears in yoga class this morning. the teacher asked us to equate our yoga practice to our behavior "out there." when we reach a difficult spot in a posture, she asked, are we hard with ourselves about it? or do we work with our body gently, supporting a gradual unfolding?

i am nice to my body in yoga (plus have a lot of natural flexibility), but can be sooooo mean and hard with myself elsewhere.

your post is, as you may have noticed from all the other comments, very apropos for many of us.

breathe, james, breathe; and support yourself in that simple act of giving and taking.

Nacho said...

All the best brother James, and hang in there. Remember impermanence! : ) Haven't been around much James, but I hope you and your family are all well.

"James" said...

Belly:

I am more then happy to share the great information and knowledge that I find. May you be blessed.

Taza:

Thank-you for the gentle reminder to breath. It is amazing what breathing can do for us. Too often I neglect my breathing. A lotus to you.

Nacho:

Thank-you for the reminder on impermanence. That is such a crucial key for lasting peace. We are well over here and I hope the same is true with you and yours.

Brandon said...

Hey James, just checking out your blog that I happend to stumble across. I must say it is very influencial and makes me want to pursue a buddhist lifestyle once again. I guess I've been a bit distracted lately. It's also amazing to see how you carry on with your spiritual path even with the inconvenience of being bipolar. Keep it up man.

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