CRASH! “Mumble mumble…” (that wasn’t exactly what I uttered when I knocked the glass to the tile floor with my elbow, but you get the gist). “So this is how my week is going to start…bring it!” I thought, as 7am Monday morning greeted me with shards of glass on my kitchen floor.
Immediately I thought of the bestselling book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” by Richard Carlson. I recall really enjoying the book when I read it many years ago, but there were a few chapters that impacted my life greatly…one of which was “The Broken Glass” (or something along those lines…I’m not sure of the exact title).
The idea of this chapter is that we only have a finite time to have the things (and people, etc.) we love…eventually everything will return to its original form and will have served its purpose. A glass is made, and that glass will ultimately break. We as humans are born, we live our lives, and we die.
This teaching is also found in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, along with the concept of practice. Practice (abhyasa) involves consistent, steady effort to move forward, in an attempt to lead to inner peace. Non-attachment (vairagya) goes hand-in-hand with practice, as it allows us to focus on the “end-goal” of peace without letting ourselves get off-course to focus on distractions (such as material things).
In other words, stay on the path to joy without stopping to buy a ticket to the circus freak show.
Now, that’s not to say that when a glass breaks, a friendship runs its course, or someone dies, you don’t wince from the loss. Of course, there will be impact, and it isn’t logical (or psychologically healthy) to be apathetic. You will have a reaction, particularly if an event is unexpected (like the glass being knocked off the kitchen counter).
It wasn’t the broken glass itself that made me “mumble”, it was the unexpectedness of it.
What Patanjali is saying, in my opinion, is that we acknowledge our feelings (“Wow, I really am sad because of that” or “That is such a disappointment”). We value whatever time we had with the person or thing that is affecting us…and we view the loss as part of the cycle of life. (Cue “Lion King” song here…)
Dare to live by letting go. -Tom Althouse
When we acknowledge that what we do, how we think, and the things we say all affect our inner peace, there is freedom. This freedom comes not just from non-attachment to painful circumstances, but pleasurable ones as well (consider addictions and how something initially pleasurable can become the primary focus in ones’ life, to the point of destruction).
Today, it seems so easy to place blame on circumstances, people, and things for disturbing our inner peace. It isn’t an easy thing to admit that only WE are responsible for that. We cannot necessarily change what happens to us, but we can be in control of our reactions.
So, once I had my initial moment of frustration from the broken glass, I swept up the big pieces and the shards and silently gave thanks for the time it was part of the set (which started as 12, but has whittled its way down to 9…I tend to talk with my hands and make big gestures that cause things to fall over and/or break!). And my peace returned as I went about making breakfast for my son and unloading the dishwasher.
I would like to challenge you to ask yourself some questions regarding your inner peace:
- What are my “freak shows”? What are the things that distract me & “lure me away” from my path to inner peace?
- What are the things I do, think, and/or say on a regular basis that cause me frustration, anger, disappointment, sadness, etc.? How can I change that?
- What are the things that I allow to shroud my best self? What lies beneath the veil of my fears, my distractions, and my attachments?
These aren’t easy questions to answer…and you may find that you need someone to work through them with you. That can give you an outside perspective on what may truly be at the core of what’s keeping you from your inner peace.
If you’re ready to discover a new mindset, gain new tools to guide you on your own journey, let’s chat. CLICK HERE for a complementary breakthrough session in which we can help you find your BEST SELF!
This post is part of the FYB “31 Days to Quiet the Voices in Your Head” series.
Read more about it HERE.