In ancient Indian texts, yoga sutra 1.2 roughly translates to “the removing of the fluctuations of the mind.” At its core, this refers to our consciousness as human beings. That’s an easy enough concept to comprehend, right? In reality, you’ll begin to realize how painfully difficult it is to calm the mind when you fully understand its true nature: to respond to any and all stimuli. The mind’s job is to constantly be on high alert — always thinking, always aware.
To shut it off is an impossible mission. This is part of the reason why it’s called yoga “practice” and not yoga “perfect.” Gaining control over one’s own thoughts, feelings and actions becomes more accessible through practicing yoga.
However, everyday life negates this personal growth; toiling away in front of a computer screen, dealing with work issues and sitting in traffic annoyed can make it difficult to embody those aforementioned ethos consistently.
That sense of not having control over my own thoughts, feelings and actions requires me to hit the refresh button constantly. That refresh recently presented itself as a weekend course administered by renowned international yoga teacher Eric Paskel.
Eager yet uncertain, I’m sure you can understand my apprehension over dedicating a whole Saturday afternoon to a course titled “UnF#cked Relationships that Rock,” facilitated by Enlighten Yoga in Blakeney. The name alone suggests a state of required introspection that has the potential to get heavy — something I would need to be mentally prepared to embrace.
To start, in order for one to become “unfucked” one must understand what it means to be fucked, and not in the way you’re thinking. According to Eric Paskel, to be “fucked” means to wish others would change to suit your personality, your needs or your views; getting bothered, anxious or depressed because others are bothered, anxious or depressed; believing others can make you or break you; or not having complete control over your thoughts, feelings and actions.
Not surprisingly, I identify with some of these traits. I’m fucked.
My short afternoon under Paskel’s tutelage was eye-opening to say the least. He provided forewarning that we might not like what he had to say.
When it comes to relationships, Paskel has four rules that he says will transform your relationships.
Relationship Rule No. 1: Attachment ruins relationships (this one’s more of an observation). When we’re secure with ourselves and can take care of our own needs we can meet our significant other’s needs without asking for anything in return. That sense of expecting something and not receiving it is what causes suffering.
Relationship Rule No. 2: Properly assess the people you’re involved with. My biggest “wake up” moment of the weekend was learning how not assessing someone properly at the dawn of a relationship leads to unrealistic expectations. What is an unrealistic expectation, you ask? It’s asking or expecting someone to be anyone other than themselves. Further introspection on this forced me to reconsider past relationships that lived well past their shelf life.
Relationship Rule No. 3: Realize that relationships are based on duties, not rights. This concept is a little over my head. Basically, relationships thrive when we learn our roles and fulfill them to our best abilities. Example: as a daughter I should be the best daughter I can be and work on viewing my mother as a fellow human, not just my mom. This is a challenge because my relationship with my mom is a special kind of fucked-up, but that’s a whole separate column.
Relationship Rule No. 4: Regulate and moderate contact. If you’ve ever struggled with codependence, this one’s for you. Traditionally, codependents seek external satisfaction in relationships, and if this resonates in any way, now may be the time to do some soul searching. It’s a life-changing realization to fully realize that our own happiness lies within ourselves, not in someone else.
My takeaway for you, dear reader, is to know that no one needs to change but yourself. Until we come to terms with that, all of our relationships will be forever fucked.