Living Beyond the Shoulds

It’s difficult for me to “just” let myself be. Those constant voices pushing me from inside feel as though they never cease. I’m not sure what measurement I expect to match up to because I know there isn’t one.

This past year I have traveled quite a bit which meant not seeing my family as much as I’d like. I really started to feel it and took six weeks to come home.

Home. Is where the heart is?

All I wanted to do was spend time with my family.

How quickly the internal voices came in when I arrived back home. Those voices asking me, “what are you doing with your life?” and pushing and prodding for an answer. Not that this is a bad thing.

The thoughts grew in power, feeding on guilt because I wasn’t “doing” much. I wasn’t working. I started looking for a job and questioning the path I’m on. I gave the idea of a job right now a sideways glance, knowing full well that it wouldn’t “solve” any of this spinning. If anything, it would just be another distraction away from what I want to be doing; how I want to be living right now.

I got distracted with thoughts about money. Housing. Mortgages. Working. Retirement. The energy around me felt quite strong. Not wrong; just not for me right now.

This energy started to make me turn on myself and attack. A theme I’m used to. In the spirit of self-study – I watched. I noticed what happened as I looked at job boards.

Then I finally realized I was doing exactly what I had wanted all along. All I wanted was to spend time with my family and I was. In abundance. And it was wonderful.

The more I realized that the more I let go of the lack (or the belief in what I was lacking and not doing). The more I focused on the moment and what was currently happening. The more I could start to connect even more deeply with love and light to myself and to my family. The more I could let go of that second-guessing worry and fear that I wasn’t doing something I “should” be doing. I felt a deep peace come over me and my heart expanded. I felt love bigger and more potent than any I have felt for a long time. Probably since I was a little kid, exuding love. Love that perhaps I’ve been limiting because it felt like too much to handle.

In my first training, my teacher explained to us the concept of a daily practice or sadhana. The best thing she said for me to hear was for us to get on the mat every day and move. Every time the word “should” came into our heads – “I should do x pose now or next” to not do that.

Years ago, I started incorporating that philosophy into my physical practice every day. Every day not knowing where I’d be going next and discounting the shoulds that came up and instead feeling or following what I needed or what happened spontaneously. What I realize now is that she was offering us a key to being able to work with all the myriad of “shoulds” that appear in a lifetime. To instead trust what is inside and to live authentically, not bound to what others think reality or life is or isn’t.

So, from the outside, taking six weeks to spend with my family may seem a luxury when faced with the modern way of working where family separation is often a key part of making a living. I’ve done that for many years and all the while I had a pulling feeling of sadness and missing. One that I ignored for some time or didn’t understand how to interpret when it would grow to a point where the separation was too hard. I didn’t know how to listen. I was caught up in the shoulds.

Now, I’m learning how to listen beyond the shoulds.

Now I know that home, for me, is where the heart is.

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