My recent travels to Macau, China where I presented Pangu Yoga at the International Qi Gong Conference became a stark reminder of what I have no control over and what I CAN control. I was at a conference where I didn't understand the language and it was anyone's guess if my appointed time to be on stage would actually materialize per schedule. For two full days the sound from the speakers was so blaringly loud I thought my ear drum was going to explode and some speaker's voices were so unpleasantly rough that it was completely jarring to the senses. My nervous system was getting assaulted in every direction and yet I was getting ready to present a practice that was supposed to be steeped in the opposing energies of unwavering calm, tolerance, and love. I tried my best to remind myself to be tolerant, to remain calm and trust that if I could let go of the environmental factors I couldn't control and focus on my own inner cultivation I would deliver. As the phrase goes ‘When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do’ refers to the importance of adapting myself to the customs of the people who are in a certain place or situation, or at the very least having tolerance for it.
The mind is our ultimate battleground. It’s the space where the greatest and fiercest conflict resides. It’s where half of the things we thought were going to happen, never actually happened. It’s where our inner resistance can bury us with negativity. And, when we allow these thoughts to dwell in our mind, they gradually succeed in robbing us of peace, joy, and ultimately our life. We can think ourselves right into nervous breakdowns and bouts of depression, time and again. I know because I've done it, time and again.
There’s so much about our lives—and our fate—we can’t control, and if we focus all our energy on these things we neglect everything we CAN control. We can decide how we spend our time right now, what we choose to focus on, and whom we share our energy with.
There are many things that unavoidably befalls a person
- the young man who had his life turned upside down by cancer
- the young woman, and mother of two, who lost her husband to death at 27
- the family who lost their house in a tornado
- the local business owner who was thriving until the economy collapse
- the runner who lost his leg in a hit and run car accident
- the mom whose son has Down syndrome despite her doing everything right during pregnancy
- and many, many more people just like them…
What we have almost complete control over is how we RESPOND to these events. It may seem like we don't have control only because we haven't practiced it enough and cultivated ourselves in a way that creates a new habit. But the more we do it the easier it becomes.
So, I invite you right now in this moment to think of just one single thing you know you have complete control over. Maybe it's the choice of your words and the tone of voice in which you speak to yourself and others. Maybe it's what you decide you will engage in, read and study next. Perhaps its how you choose to respond to a challenging life situation, and whether you will see it as a curse or an opportunity for growth. Just pick one and really feel the CHOICE and control that you have. Battling the mind and getting to know yourself in this way can really provide the greatest freedom.
As for what we can't control, it will always be there. But we can transcend our circumstances by doing our best to let go of what’s wrong and grab a hold of what’s right. Make things happen with your efforts and choices, and then let things happen with your surrender, hope and confidence.