Pictured here is a weird and terrible smoothie. A little too much protein powder plus not quite enough flavor or planning left me feeling completely disenchanted with something I was looking forward to. It may seem trivial (and it is), but this example is a microcosm for other experiences.
Have you ever spent days or even years looking forward to something, only to be woefully disappointed? It could be a social event, a meal, a purchase, a trip, a relationship...our expectations, whether good or bad, are not doing us any favors. Whether you find yourself grasping for, anticipating or dreading something, these feelings can create bondage that robs us from being present in the moment.
Excitement, worry and dread are all different manifestations of the same energy.
Each of these feelings is 100% future-oriented. You cannot dread the present moment. It's not possible to experience over-anticipation in the now. Regardless of what's ahead, when we allow ourselves to get wrapped up in the future, we're literally stealing the mindfulness and joy that we could be experiencing within the present moment.
Asteya is one of the yogic principles of self-restraint that means 'non-stealing.' There are many obvious ways to practice non-stealing, but thinking in terms of energy exchange can help to clarify a little further. Where are you spending or leeching energy? What types of expectations or demands do you put upon yourself or others? Do they cause suffering or disappointment for anyone?
Our expectations can steal from our reality in big and small ways. Many of our expectations are deeply ingrained or even subconscious. If you find it challenging to feel content, consider what types of expectations you really have and WHY. It's not always easy to figure out or admit. Watch for patterns within your life (jobs, multitasking, moving, relationships...etc) that could be clues to cycles of suffering. Once you begin to notice and point out these patterns within your life, you won't have to keep reliving these lessons over and over again. Beginning today, allow your reality to come first and practice gratefulness for what is.