As the year comes to a close, it is a common habit to review what the past has wrought and what the future holds. Self study, particularly at this time of the year is always good, taking a meditative look at the lessons learned in the past year and resolving to try harder to not give into the negative patterns of the mind. But many people, in making their list of New Year’s Resolutions, set themselves up for failure by the nature of their expectations for themselves or others.
Expectations can be very tricky, that is why I counsel people to try to not have any. For example, watch when something good happens that appears to be according to your expectations; you are elated and happy, and yet when something bad happens that appears to defy your expectations, you are down. The day you can rise above these two states of opposite forces, and reach a point of equanimity, when happiness and unhappiness are nothing but forces in play, and you are a mere witness of the play of the Divine, then you will also realize that your Self is beyond good and bad, success and failure, and you will be Free forever.
So how do you release all expectations about the outcome of your efforts and learn to just relax and let go? One way is that the instant you realize you are in attachment to a certain outcome, consciously and with awareness let go of your demand that life fit your limited expectations. Let go of your demand for a certain outcome. Every time you begin the day, every time you begin a new activity, humbly dedicate it to God and lovingly release the outcome to God. Open your heart to grace, and be willing to become the instrument for God’s purposes. Simply do what you do as a servant, as a prayer, in self-offering. Try to do what you do for its own sake, utterly surrendering the outcome to God.
For most of us, our actions originate from our ego, our vanity. For example, when do you feel hurt? When your expectations are challenged and when your conditional rut is threatened. Most often we react to the provocation that comes from without. In so doing, we struggle to make life fit into the expectation, into the understanding, that has grown in us over years of practice. We always try to set things right our way.
Thus, it often happens that when you try too hard to fix negative situations, and you try to force a solution, things only get worse. You try to manage things and nothing you do helps. At that point, the best thing is to distance yourself a little, to witness the whole situation from the state of meditation, and with a deep sense of trust in the Divine design, just let go without muddling with it.
The whole purpose of meditation and mindfulness is to wake up to the need of being unconditional and mindful. The more mindful you are, the less need there is for you to muddle. As such, during meditation so much peace abides in the shrine of your heart that as the clutter and chatter of your mind subsides, you are flooded with a sense of contentment and fulfillment. You no longer feel the need to say your thoughts, for your ego has nothing to prove. If someone has hurt you, remember there are many others who have given you praise, too; which one would you say is the truth? Neither, for they had to come, they came, and you are neither the praise nor the insult. You are unscathed by either when in true meditation.
There is time in meditation; let go, give the outcome to God and trust, and let time settle it. Time is the healer. You need to accept the heavenly energy which is always available, and can take care of all your problems, provided you learn the art of letting go, provided you surrender your doubt, and you give the outcome to God.
Trust and patience are very important to the day-to-day management of your life. Trust in Divine Providence. Trust in the wonderful intelligence of the Cosmic Process. Then have patience. If you want something to heal, you should allow some time.
Each attachment and every expectation is a seed that you sow to reap future unhappiness. There is such beauty in this Divine design! At certain times, sometimes in short intervals, you will be given shock treatments to help you understand that it is not good to expect. The design is continuously operating. You keep expecting that there should be no problems. Eventually, though, you find that you start contemplating, “Should I expect anything at all? Shouldn’t I just let go?”
After all, you are seeking happiness and peace. You are not seeking anything else. Whatever may be the activity, whatever may be the thought, you are seeking happiness and joy and peace, nothing else. You find expectations have been leading you to misery and unhappiness. The time comes that you take stock of the whole thing, even if you don’t read books or attend meditation classes. That doesn’t matter because you are in the meditation class of the universe. Mother Nature will teach you. She teaches me; she teaches everybody. We create miseries with our expectations. Eventually, we learn. It is only when we expect nothing, when we offer ourselves and all outcomes to God, that we are flooded with peace and joy.
What I am trying to share with you is this: Be mindful and aware of when you are in the grip of attachment, of when you are expecting a certain outcome to your New Year’s Resolutions. If you make a resolution, then make it with a light, meditative heart, with the only goal that you will try to let go of all attachment to the outcome. Enjoy the journey through the next year. Don't ask for things to be done your way. Give to others instead. Don't place conditions and waste energy on expectations. Rather, un-condition yourself, empty yourself and the Cup of Life will be Full without you even knowing it happened!!