‘I am absolutely certain I will get to where I want to because I am working towards my goals, I am honest to myself, transparent with others, truthful with my intentions and always move forward no matter what.’
I found this quote one day and I liked it quite a bit, but very soon I realized that something fundamental was missing in it, and what was missing was a relationship with something – a force, a power, an intelligence, or whatever you want to call it – that is beyond my powers.
We live in a time when we, as humans, believe we are the highest power in the universe. Here’s an example of what I mean: I went on holiday to visit my brother in Spain. Together with his 13-year old son we went to see the latest Batman movie. It is basic, but a good movie, fun, enjoyable and well done. At a certain point in the story, there is a priest who is trying to help some kids because the whole world is going to be destroyed. But when difficulties become overwhelming, he completely loses hope. ‘There is nothing more we can do, this is it, this is the end’, he says. But then comes a young man (who will probably become the future Robin, Batman’s companion) and says: ‘No, no, we can do it, we can save these kids’ and of course he does.
Basically, the message is that the one figure that used to represent the higher power in the past – the priest – has no more power, while man – represented by the young man – can achieve anything.
This message is all around us: we don’t need anything, we are self-sufficient, we can do it. It’s a wonderful message because it puts a lot of responsibility on us… but at the same time, because it’s essentially not true, it also puts an amazing amount of unnecessary stress on our shoulders.
Why is it not true? The actions that we take at any moment are up to us. They are our decisions, our powers, our choices. But we are not aware that the results of those actions are not up to us, but up to Life. We are not aware that any moment—this moment—has a huge background that allows it to exist, that allows, for example, for you to be reading this note right now. We believe that we are here (whatever ‘here’ is) because we had a thought: I am going to click on this link and read an article. But this thought is just a small drop of water in the huge universe of existence.
It is beautiful to work towards our aims, and to do everything we can to accomplish them, but somewhere in our heart we need to know that in the end, it is not really up to us, but up to the whole, the total, the universe, whatever we want to call it, the name is not important. I like to call it Life. What is important is to be aware of this power that is beyond our possibilities, and to understand that this power – and not just our own decisions – is what actually allows things to happen.
This is a very difficult thing to acknowledge for most people. For instance, we really believe that it is us who are doing things, but in order to do something, first we need to exist, we need to be. And who gave us this life? Who gave us this being? It was given to us. We need to acknowledge that life is something that is being given to us.
It is being given to me to have an arm that I can move. It is being given to me to have a body, to have a heart that is beating. It is being given to me that I can breathe, I can see, I can hear, I can talk. And the power to desire to improve is being given to me. In order to get anything – and people believe that they accomplish things because they have the power of decision and determination – I need to have the desire for it. To have the energy of desire is a great power, and this power is being given to me.
But are we aware, not to mention grateful, for the thing that’s been given to us? No. Instead, we take everything for granted.
We live our lives so unconnected with what is being given to us that we continuously demand and never give thanks for anything. This is our psychology. And I find that much of our stress is because we don’t acknowledge anything at all. We just demand, we just expect to receive more and more.
To bring these ideas into practice, into the Yogilates classes, we can understand that our bodies have been given to us. Right now we live in a society where the models are Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. These are the models of the 21st century and many people would like to look like them. I know that in the 16th century, in the Renaissance, Angelina Jolie would have been considered too skinny and probably sick. The model of the 16th century looked very different. But 16th century or 21st century, these are just models, and they may or may not represent ‘me’.
Our bodies have been given to us, our possibilities have been given to us, but when we lose that understanding we create the idea that everybody should look like a certain ‘ideal’. And that just puts an incredible amount of unnecessary pressure on us.
As we practice Yogilates, we will do our best, but we need to stay away from the idea of what that best should be. At any moment, what is up to us is our effort, our action, but what comes out of that effort, of that action, is not up to us, but up to Life.
It is in this understanding that we can let go, we can relax, we can be who we really are.