Have you ever fantasised about a far off goal? Getting so excited about the prospect of doing an advanced yoga posture, for example? The thought about it is so powerful that for a moment, your mind convinces you that this reality is already here. It lets you ride the wave of heightened emotions, a state of happiness, nourishing your soul – for a while.
Making this fantasy reality, we actually have to get started. So we get on our mat and attempt the yoga move and probably fail. The high we experienced before disappears, as in reality, the goal feels unreachable. This leaves us frustrated and disappointed. Confirming our old ways of thinking, that we are not cut out for dreamy goals and the fantasy crumbles.
So we are looking for a different approach, as being on the mat with those ‘negative’ emotions is not helping us get closer to our goal. We research the internet, looking for tips from others who mastered that skill. Looking for that one magical exercise. Soon we find out that there is no magic and that people actually put in a lot of work to reach it. So next, we write a weekly plan of how many times we will train for it. And usually, discard this plan already on the first day!
Most of us are familiar with these processes: not committing to our goal, not following through with the plan to reach this goal. We settle back into: “Why bother? It doesn’t make me a better yogi anyway!” Our mind finds arguments like: “Yoga shouldn’t be about circus moves!”; “This is not yoga!” etc., and we talk ourselves out of it until we give up instead of reaching for the stars. Leaving us with a feeling of failure, not being able to stick with anything, letting things go as soon if gets difficult. We reinforce our old habits (samskāra).
We then often feel lost and unsatisfied, as the fantasy high that gave us such a lovely boost remains just that, a fantasy. A high can be very addictive, leaving reality as a bland aspect of our lives. As a result, we discard our dreams as it feels impossible to reach them or it requires too much work.
So let’s change our perspective by using the advanced posture or the far off goal as a means to an end! The gap between fantasy and reality feels too big at the moment, and it feels there is no in-between. We need to find ways to divide this gap into blocks, giving us many joys along the journey instead of focusing solemnly on the joy of reaching a big goal.
Ask ourselves, do we need this high from a fantasy if it leaves us with ‘negative’ feelings in the end? Does this pattern serve us at all?
Change it once and for all
1st: Become aware when you are riding a high from a fantasy and stop it right away, bring yourself back to your reality, to the present. Ask yourself immediately if you want to reinforce this non-serving pattern? Remember, the longer we linger on that high, the deeper we will fall when reality hits us.
Practice becoming mindful when you feel euphoric about a fantasised goal. Know that the mind is tricking your body’s chemicals into feeling that way. Come back to the now.
2nd: Start slicing that gap into blocks and work on the first one until mastered before moving on to the next one. If, for example, you want to learn to jump back, then work on lifting your body off the floor with your legs close to your torso first. Once you can do this work on the next step. Dividing your goal into little building blocks, one placed on top of the other, is the way forward.
If we break it up, we make bite-sized chunks out of it. This distant goal won’t be our only focus anymore, as there are now smaller ones in between. One block after the other becomes possible, and fantasy turns into reality. So sit down, do your research, find out the building blocks you need to reach your goal. And you will have many little triumphs along the way each time you mastered a block until one day your initial goal is within reach. Yet, by that time it might not be so important anymore, as by now, we have learned to enjoy the journey. The gap turns into individual gaps, and each of those is possible. We turn fantasy into reality.
Making a conscious decision to discard a non-serving patterns, creating new helpful ones instead, is a lesson we can apply to any other aspect of our life.