When what is said is not actually said

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Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

How much wisdom can a short text have? It’s a question that makes me speechless when it comes to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Said to be compiled prior to 400 CE by the sage Patanjali in India, the sutras are a collection of 196 Sanskrit aphorisms on the theory and practice of yoga. A while ago, verse 33 of Chapter 1 was kind of haunting me: in any yoga studio I would go to, the teacher would open up the book and read it. It goes like this:

maitri karuna mudita upeksanam sukha duhkha punya apunya visayanam bhavanatah citta…

At times I feel like I am nothing. Five minutes later, I feel I am everything

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We love three-step formulas. Exercise, have a smoothie, be happy! Let’s face it, would you read an article titled “Live your dream life by doing these fifty activities every single day”?

We might have a taste for oversimplifying things, but if there’s one thing we are not, is simple.

The journey towards living happier, better lives always returns to the same starting point: identifying what is blocking us from expanding. Chances are what is holding us back is nothing but our mental models and beliefs of who we think we are.

Who Do We Think We Are?

The story goes that, at some point in our lives, we decide we are a few things. I am nice and easy going. A good friend, a loving daughter, a great online marketer who loves standup comedies and quesadillas and hates pineapples.

The mind-body dilemma in practice

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Photo by todd kent on Unsplash

Have you tried to live on this planet without making a single choice for a whole day? I can’t think of any mission more impossible than that, given that even if we spend the day in bed, we have by default chosen to stay in bed.

When making a decision, it is easier to simply enquire “do I want this or not?,” or “should I do this or not?,” instead of “what am I feeling that is leading me to act like this?”

I might choose to sleep the whole day because I am exhausted after overworking myself for weeks. Or maybe I went a bit too crazy the previous night. So I spend the day in bed out of shame and sadness for something that happened then that I don’t want to deal with just yet. …

Setting new year intentions in a different way

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Photo by ika dam on Unsplash

It’s time to kiss 2020 goodbye.

I’m one of those who avoid New Year celebrations. I could never get all the fuzz around it. All the expectations and optimism that fade away the day after.

But I do love to wrap things up. The need for closure works almost like a ritual. The intention is to not have things pending and dragging for too long so that I can give my energy to what deserves it.

Yet, that hasn’t been very easy lately. Do you know the feeling of juggling ten balls but still having only two hands — and one of them is seriously bruised? When that happens, it is easy to lose our inner compass. To put way too much attention on simply keeping things going. …

Expanding life through the mind

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Photo by Josh Riemer on Unsplash

At any given second, millions of things are happening. Pandemics, unemployment, abusive power structures. Scientific progress, sustainable innovations, and beautiful art.

The world (and the human mind) never stops. What is for dinner tonight, where we want to go next for holidays, what we are feeling on our pinky toes. And surely there are people dancing, children playing, and autumn leaves in all different colors.

Given we can't possibly keep track of everything, my question to you is,

What are you choosing?

At any given second, millions of things are happening

The role of the mind is to select a few of the millions of possible things that matter to focus on. …

Detachment as an act of self-love

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Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

Destroy, crash, and burn. Technology is disrupted, social conventions are updated, the environment collapses, and sickness spreads. We live surrounded by destruction, many of which are required for our progression. New life requires old life to die. More adaptable genetic mutations push old ones to go instinct.

Say bye to mom and dad, say hi to your child. Destruction invites renewal. Yet, the pain of separation is emotionally, physically, and psychologically draining. Even initiating a desired breakup brings us suffering. How I have hesitated to quit jobs that I didn't even like.

We lived in our mother’s womb for nine months fully integrated with their body functions with no need of doing anything. Life is peachy. As we leave the womb, we become fully dependable creatures. If someone forgets to feed us, we are screwed. The more we grow and the more we detach from our family, the less other people cater to us. As time goes by, the more we are required to be independent, to have our shit together, and to work for ourselves. …

Binge-watching Netflix. Partying. Overeating. Oversleeping. When is enough, enough?

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Photo by Christian Sterk on Unsplash

My dad grew up super poor. He was 9 years old when he got his first pair of shoes. When I was a teenager, every time there was a storm he would leave work and rush back home to make sure the house was still there. No joke.

Given that my dad worked like hell to guarantee he and his children would have a rather good life, I can’t possibly conceive what he went through. He’s retired comfortably over a decade ago and got plenty of real estate properties making sure he could sit back and relax. …

A manifesto in praise of transformation

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Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash

Isn’t it weird that the more we become productive and progress as a society, the busier we get?

We are constantly connected and doing stuff that we “have to, must, should” do. To impress, to avoid confrontation, to do what we are “supposed to do”. So much to do, so little time.

Is it ever enough?

We put so much time planning work projects and holidays, but we don’t do the same with our biggest project: our lives.

Without clarity of what we want, of what kind of life we want to live, we accept external demands and neglect ourselves.

We feel something is missing. We are tired, depressed, burned out and our lives are lacking meaning. …

On the search for meaning in life

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The floor is made of intercalating black and white tiles and the temptation to not step on the white ones is too big. Even as grown-ups we can make games out of daily components of our lives — or keep playing the ones we have since we were kids. And what is a game but a set of rules with a purpose? Step on the white one, game over.

Our ability to make sense of things, be it for work, or be it for sheer playfulness, is immense. …

Things I’d do differently

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Photo by SOULSANA on Unsplash

If you could start from scratch, what would you do differently?

For me, this list is endless. It goes all the way back to when I was around 9 years old. My ballet teacher closed her dance school and my mom did not put me in a new dance class. I wanted to dance so badly. But at that age, I simply accepted that I wasn’t going to a new dance school.

If I could go back in time, I would have been a brat and thrown a tantrum until my mom took me to a new school.

It’s not about victimization

I’m not saying that to put the blame for not becoming a professional dancer on my mom or on myself. It’s not about being harsh. …

About

Aline Müller

Meditation teacher, healer, writer. Making room for a new world by dropping what no longer serves. Get a weekly reflection: https://aline.substack.com/

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