Yoga today was difficult but good because I noticed one aspect of my life I hadn’t taken the time to ponder for a long time. I don’t know what I want.
So often, when I come to my parents, siblings, or friends with my concerns, they ask me what I want to do. Every time someone asks me this, I don’t know how to answer.
This mindset started about ten years ago. When I was nineteen, I watched Disney’s The Princess and the Frog (2009) and fell in love with its animation and story. One particular scene that stuck out to me came near the climax when the characters find Mama Odie. The characters, who had come to her for help, think she’s crazy because she doesn’t seem to understand them or their problems. But then, she asks a very direct question. “Y’all find out what you need?”
The obvious answer, because Tiana and Prince Naveen are frogs, seems to be, they need to be human. But that isn’t the answer Mama Odie was looking for. She says, “You all want to be human, but you’re blind to what you need.” Prince Naveen answers back, confused, “What we want, what we need, its the same thing, yes?”
Of course, it isn’t the same thing. Mama Odie challenged them to “dig a little deeper” to find what they truly needed rather than wanted. I took what Mama Odie said to heart. Putting my needs before my wants has become one of my life’s goals. However, I think I didn’t understand her lesson as well as I thought I did.
I equated my wants with my passions without even realizing it and put them to the side, thinking it was a worthy sacrifice. I lost sight of the dreams I used to have as a child. I used to bury my feelings of discontentment by working all the time. By staying busy, as I felt I should do, I didn’t have time to notice my passions growing dimmer. Now, I am home all day. I don’t have work to distract me.
When I stopped, looked deeper, and saw how unhappy I am with myself, I thought, “This would be a great time to make some goals, so I can be busy again and do the things I need to.” Consequently, all of my goals focus on ways to improve myself and use my time more wisely. I use these goals as a way to fill a gap in myself, that part which isn’t satisfied with who I am now. They center on what I think I lack.
Have you ever noticed, while practicing yoga, its not about doing the poses but about seeing ourselves, and accepting where we are in that moment? I struggle applying this principle into my practice. So many times today as I switched from one pose to another I thought, “I need to do this asana in this particular way, otherwise I will have failed.”
This mindset is rooted in my insistence on always doing what I need to do. Even when I’m tired during yoga practice, I always push myself to reach certain expectations. I do this because I feel it’s what I need to do. But I wonder what my practice would be like if I could view it, not as an obligation but as something I truly, and sincerely want to do. That’s how it started for me, but like other aspects of my life, the passion I used to feel for my practice seems overwhelmed by my insistence to do it to fulfill a need.
Mama Odie didn’t say destroying our desires or sacrificing our passions was the answer. Naveen and Tatiana did fulfill their dreams. Just not in the way they expected. Tiana didn’t have to give up her dream of owning a restaurant to get married. She just needed to adjust her FOCUS.
Sometimes, it is good to sacrifice our immediate wants for things we need. However, it’s important to have passions, desires, dreams, and wishes as well. Right not in my life maybe, it’s not about what I should do. It’s about what I want to do.
Thank you for reading! See you tomorrow!