Lockdown in Paradise
We had a gap of one year in rented accommodation after leaving Edinburgh before we found our Retreat Space. With beautiful views and lovely local walks we were lucky to be out of the city during lockdown.
Yet shamefully, guiltily I felt discontent. I keenly felt a lack of purpose. I was enthusiastic about all the tasks that would need doing once we had our place, yet couldn't do them. I sat watching the neighbours catching up on DIY and enjoying gardening but in a rented house we couldn't really do much. At the start I really enjoyed walking, but after a while even that tailed off; something inside seemed to say “do something useful!” Of course I could have found volunteering but at any moment I felt that surely we would find a place soon.
We saw some beautiful houses and tried to buy a few, but nothing worked out. After a while we observed that we didn't even know for sure what we were looking for. Some days I would even lose myself aimlessly searching through the house listings I'd already seen, as if somehow a house would appear if I only spent enough time. At first there were many properties then they became scarce as people fled lockdown in the cities. It was easy to look back on properties we missed and wonder if we should have offered more money.
Change of heart
Quite suddenly one day I had a shift of perspective. Optimism. I decided to accept the situation exactly as it is and make the best of it. In the end whinging, feeling sorry for oneself and other forms of pessimism are self-harming. If we look at things from a detached perspective we easily see that we will get much better results if we are optimistic. This "making the best" allows for the possibility of lucid sadness about suffering; allows for a fiery detached determination to change the world – if these really are the best course of action. However it won't help to stubbornly insist that the world is wrong when in fact we can easily modify our plans to work in harmony with the world as it is.
Our Yoga system covers many amazing topics. I used a specific technique involving a commitment to a daily mind practice for achieving our goal of buying our retreat space. Interestingly, modern visualization techniques come quite close to this ancient teaching. An important difference is that the Yoga technique includes elements to ensure that the goal is integrated harmoniously with the Universal needs, rather than just satisfying our own selfish agenda.
Power of the mind
Traditional Yoga places an emphasis on the power of our mind. Our inner attitude determines our level of happiness, confidence, charisma and determination . More remarkably, our mind has a substantial power to influence the material world. The placebo effect is conclusively proven: if our brain believes a sugar-pill is medicine then we tend to get better. Amazingly this can work even if we know we are taking a placebo.
Modern coaches have even discovered the remarkable "Law of Attraction". High-achievers have understood this idea intuitively for years...
Whether you think you can, or you think you can't – you're right (Henry Ford)
All for the best
In our hobbies and sports, most of us like to challenge ourselves. Runners increase their distance, climbers find harder routes and gamers gradually move up to the hardest difficulty settings. We intuitively know that we need challenges in order to improve.
Yet when life decides to up the difficulty without asking us, people often rebel and reject it. Yoga teaches that life brings us the challenges we need in order to overcome our limitations. Many of the world's greatest and most admired people overcame great challenges. If we insist to limit our life to situations we can handle easily then we tend to develop stronger and stronger habits, reacting to our restricted life in the same way over and again.
Looking back, I can see clearly that the delay before we bought our house was to our advantage. We became clear on our priorities, choosing a much more suitable properties than some earlier ones. More importantly, Rachael and I transformed ourselves and our relationship to become more ready for the challenge ahead. As hosts of a retreat space, we need to exemplify the states that we espouse: calm, loving, persevering and wise in the face of challenges. We've got a lot to learn, and we've firmly set the rest of our lives to give it our best.