I took in a yoga class Wednesday morning at Yoga Shanti with Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman and the dharma talk they discussed at the end of the class really hit home for me.
Rodney was talking about their recent trip to Bhutan and what they learned about commitment while there. He was encouraging us to engage in a daily yoga practice, make the decision, be firm and don’t let anything get in the way, no excuses. He said that in Bhutan there are no choices for many of the things we take for granted here. For instance, the religion there is Buddhism, has been for 1500 years, and that’s it. For food, they eat grain and rice, there is no paleo, gluten free, vegan, and guess what, they are happy and satisfied. Since options don’t exist they can fully embrace what is available. They don’t have the wishy-washy, always looking for the next best thing mentality we have here. We always have a choice whether that’s what to eat for dinner, what exercise to do, or who to date, and it just may be why we have commitment issues in our society. We over complicate things and use all of our energy and resources on making the decision instead of accomplishing the task. If your choices were taken away, what would you do? If not following through was no longer an option, how would you commit and what would you commit to?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about having the right to choose. I love options and I love living in a society where everything is so readily available, but Rodney makes a good point. It’s harder to make a commitment when you are always wondering what’s next, when you are always looking ahead instead of seeing what is. All of these options lead to dissatisfaction and commitment issues because we have an out, because we can make excuses.
My husband and I actually discussed this when we were dating and he said something oddly similar to a very different situation. I’m was basically his first girlfriend and I have my fair share of insecurities so when we were getting serious I of course questioned it. I said to him “don’t you think you should date other people, how do you know I will be enough for you and you won’t get tired of me unless you try other things.” His response surprised me.
My husband isn’t from America, he is from Poland and lived there until he was 11 years old in the 9 years following the fall of communism where there weren’t many choices in a country that is still 98% Catholic, so his response was coming from someone who was raised with a very un-American mentality. He explained to me that where he is from, when you meet someone worth your love, you make it work. You don’t always wonder, well what else is out there? You don’t always look behind that person for someone hotter, smarter, taller, sexier. You look at that person as a whole, you love them for all that they are, and you put the time, energy, and work into that relationship instead of putting the time, energy, and work into finding the next relationship, and the next one after that, and so on and so forth.
He chose a commitment to me, he was happy in that choice, it was his own to make but he was committed to it fully. I’ve seen this time and again in our Polish relatives and friends. His brother married his 2nd girlfriend (he was her first boyfriend) and they met at 15. Our in-laws met in high school, got married at 20 and have twin 13 year olds. Their siblings have also met their significant others in high school. His parents met at work and after 3 months got married, they just celebrated 40 years together. They have overcome hardships we would never have to face here and yet remain an intact unit, a family. Sure they are all from a small town, with less options, but they all have that love that so many people I know search for endlessly. Their stories are so different from what I observe in NYC where the dating scene if full of obstacles and unrealistic expectations. It’s like a cornucopia of hot, successful people, all too good for one another.
In our yoga teacher training we are looking at on picking a yama (ethical discipline, one of the 8 limbs of yoga) or niyama (rules of conduct that apply to individual discipline) to focus on for the duration of the program and santosa (contentment) keeps coming up for me. I am certainly guilty of not being satisfied, of always wanting a new bag, of always running from thing to thing. I have trouble with finishing what I start. After today’s class something clicked and I realized that commitment seems to be at the root of contentment. Once you decide to do something to really stick to it no matter what, the choice of giving up goes away. It’s the vacillation of should I, shouldn’t I, can I, can’t I, that drives us nuts. Once we actually make the choice, we feel so much more free. I choose to be committed to my marriage, I choose to make yoga and breath work a daily part of my life, I choose to keep moving forward in my own personal development. Whether it’s a relationship, or making choices daily to live a healthier lifestyle, what can you make a commitment to? What would it feel good to accomplish? Pick something and let me know if your happy level goes up while your stress goes down.