Let’s get this clear at the outset- I’m not talking about having a baby.
I’m talking about what happens when we give up our expectations.
It happened to me this past weekend, and caught me completely off guard!
My expectations deserted me completely, without a word, without a wave goodbye, without so much as a, “thanks it’s been great and you’re a terrific person”!
They simply walked out the door and disappeared, (much like some exes I’ve had).
So there I was, standing on a beautiful hillside overlooking a green valley of trees to my left and a rolling meadow to my right. Behind me was the campfire and a circle of people I’d never met and we were all there to learn something new, about ourselves, about the world, perhaps about each other. and me without my expectations! Feeling a little like I’d shown up to an office party at a company I’d only worked for a week. I felt awkward and unsure and very, very calm. It was weird!
Giving up expectations can be a magical moment in life.
It was the calm feeling that clued me in that something was different.
Let’s be real, I’m a pretty shy person most of the time. I’ve been a happy mostly-introvert for all my life and here I was in a circle of new people, rain clouds threatening to drench us at any moment and I was calm, you could even say I was happy. What was going on?
I sat there by the fire and listened to the retreat leader introducing the ideas we’d be working with for the weekend. I looked around at all the faces of others who’d decided to explore these new approaches along with me and I saw anticipation and worry, attentiveness and nervousness. And what I felt was calm interest. A total lack of expectations about what the weekend would hold, and I noticed that.
Noticing… That’s what started it. I noticed that I was interested. Interested in what the guy was introducing, interested in what others had to say as we started the retreat. Interested in what questions got posed to the circle as we got the whole thing rolling.
And then the noticing kept happening.
Noticing the thunder clouds rolling overhead. And how the birds kept singing even as the occasional drop of rain splattered our group.
Noticing how people’s voices told the story underneath their words, this person sounded nervous, that one sounded a little worried, this guy to my right sounded jaded and that one across from me, (though he was saying he was familiar with these concepts), his voice betrayed curiosity that was clearly audible.
Noticing my own calm and surprise at being so unconcerned by so many new people, new ideas, new setting, new everything.
“THE CLOSER I PAID ATTENTION TO WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN THE MOMENT, THE MORE AWARE I BECAME OF EVERY DETAIL.”
So what was happening?
Turns out it was an absence of expectations.
Yeah- it’s true.
I was suffering from a total lack of expectation
And I liked it!
The more I spent my energy noticing what was going on right in front of me,
The closer I listened to what everyone has to say,
or paid attention to what I heard in their voices as well as in their words,
the more I thought to gaze up at the sky and clouds and fire,
the more aware I became of what was happening in every moment.
The more aware I became of the present, the less I cared about what might happen next.
I had let go of my expectations without even realising it by simply paying attention and noticing what was happening. I was being fully present in the moment and boy did it feel great!
Being present and noticing.
That was the secret to feeling totally calm and happy?
That’s so simple!
And so easy.
Well…. Simple yes.
Dogs can be a great example of staying present in each moment without expectations- take a lesson from one.
I’ll let you in on a secret.
It’s easy now. Super easy.
So easy that I barely think about it unless I notice myself getting nervous or worried. But that wasn’t always the case and I realised that it has taken me lots and lots of practice to get to this place. Years of practice before finally the lesson stuck. The practice led me here to this calm and spacious place where there is very little stress and concern.
How did I do it?
(The great news is that it really is simple. The caveat? At times it can be challenging).
I started by trying to pay attention and notice what was happening and what I was feeling in each moment.
Try it out for yourself.
Give it a shot, see how it goes for a week or two or three.
Hit me up with a comment and let others know how it’s going for you.
We want to hear it all, the good, the bad, the ugly. Just don’t stop trying!
Without judging anything that you notice…
- In each moment try to notice what is happening in front of you right now. (Who is doing what)?
- Now shift your attention to what you feel your physical body doing. (Did you get tense? Or did your muscles relax? I’d it easier or harder to breath right his minute)?
- Shift your attention a little more internally and make a quick note of whatever emotions are right here.
That’s really all it takes.
The key is to do it over and over and over as often as you can remind yourself.
You want this to become your new habit, better than brushing your teeth or that morning cup of joe. You want to practice this as often as you can. Trust me, you can’t overdo it. And I promise no hangovers if you manage a full hour or two or even three of being able to notice exactly what is happening, in the moment, in each moment.
No hangovers, just true calm, true ease.
And some seriously great times!