Ever get stuck in a rut of negative thinking? Feel overwhelmed by the amount of complaining in your life, both by you and those around you?
I’ve got a mindset shift for you to try on.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book Big Magic has been inspiring me quite a lot lately. She has this great story at the end about a guy in a lobster suit that brings the book together so nicely (seriously, it’s great).
Gilbert quotes well-known and highly respected meditation teacher Pema Chödrön and reminded me of an “interesting” lesson I learned from one of my own yoga teachers.
From the book:
“…Pema Chödrön once said that the biggest problem she sees with people’s meditation practice is that they quit just when things are starting to get interesting. Which is to say, they quit as soon as things aren’t easy anymore, as soon as it gets painful, or boring, or agitating. They quit as soon as they see something in their minds that scares them or hurts them. So they miss the good part, the wild part, the transformative part–the part when you push past the difficulty and enter into some raw new unexplored universe within yourself.”
This particular passage stood out to me not just because it’s universally true and I recognize that same tendency in myself, but also because my own teacher would use this phrase “isn’t that interesting?” all the time.
What’s so interesting anyway?
So how do you use this phrase to help you transform your daily existence? Every time something in your life is hard and you’re faced with a difficult decision utilize this phrase instead of the negative self-talk that will naturally arise.
When you allow yourself to say things like “this sucks,” “this is horrible,” “I don’t want to do this anymore,” etc., you’re limiting your potential. When your ego makes these declarations, you slam shut the door of possibility in your face.
Instead of falling into negative self-talk, recognize that a situation is hard and repeat to yourself, “well isn’t this interesting?” When you do this you open up a door through which you can confidently step through and grow.
“Isn’t this interesting?” starts a conversation in which you can really ask yourself what is so horrible about a situation. You can be honest. You can be non-judgmental. You don’t even need answers other then to know that something is “interesting.”
Interesting doesn’t mean bad. And it doesn’t mean good. It means neutral and you’re willing to allow whatever is be what is so that you can move forward. You’re open to transformation and growth and you have no expectations or attachments. This is a true yogic mindset!
The beauty of neutrality
Coincidentally, I commented about some artwork recently and told someone I thought the artwork was “interesting.” The person I was talking to mentioned how “interesting” can be an artists’s least favorite response to his or her work. Some artists think that interesting means “I don’t like it, I’m just too nice to say that to your face.”
That might be what it means. But I think interesting is so much better then that. Interesting opens up conversation. Interesting leaves room for gray areas. Interesting is better then “I don’t like it” because it can be both “I don’t like it” and “I like it” at the same time. If you create a piece of work that makes people think, isn’t that a success?
Interesting is amorphous. Interesting is non-dual. Interesting is interesting!
True yogic living
Adopting this mantra doesn’t mean things in your life will get any easier. You still may fail. You still may have a hard time. However, there’s a difference between having a hard time and staying present to work through your issues and having a hard time, ignoring your feelings, pushing things down deep into your tissues and your subconscious mind, and turning to external outlets to numb your pain. Your issues will always catch up with you if you don’t deal with them in a healthy way. Just say hello to your tight hips…
Adopting a yogic mindset isn’t about pretzly poses or beautiful backbends. Yogis don’t have to have perfect bodies and eat only the purest, most antioxidant-rich, strange-sounding foods you’ve never heard of.
Yogis are people of all shapes and sizes who have adopted a mindset that propel them towards growth and self-exploration. That’s all yoga really is. An outlet to explore the inner frontier. A journey to connect with oneself and in so doing, connect with the essence of all things.
And the mantra “isn’t that interesting?” is a key phrase to help start you on your own inner journey.