Last weekend I was able to attend a workshop with Rolf Gates. I these short workshops a ton of information gets thrown at you, and in the moment it’s inspiring. When I get home I try to remember or explain something that was said, and I can’t remember a thing. I have almost no idea what he talked about, but I do recall liking it.
There was one story I did remember this morning exactly when I needed. Rolf described a time when he was newly sober and he would pray daily for tolerance. He noticed when he prayed for this, he often was inundated with people who would test his tolerance (or lack thereof). He jokingly said, “And this is why I don’t pray for tolerance anymore.” I know many of us have been there. We finish our yoga practice/meditation/prayer feeling very “Kumbaya,” get cut off in traffic, and it’s all downhill from there. The moments when we feel at peace seem to be tested.
Yesterday, I was working on a blog post about motivation, and I found myself suddenly feeling very discouraged. Part of me wanted to shrug it off or accept that this may not be a topic I can accurately speak about, but I cannot help but remember Rolf’s tolerance prayer. I don’t necessarily believe that “we get what we pray for.” Rolf might have been saying that when one’s attention is set on a specific thing we start to see it (in his case the lack of it) everywhere. His daily prayer for tolerance did not magically plant tolerant people in his life; it just showed him his own blind spots to tolerance. My own depression and discouragement is showing me my blind spots to motivation.
If you would like to learn more about motivation, what would be a better teacher than the feeling of hopelessness? You could really sit with hopelessness, learn every dark corner of it, and begin to fully understand it. Yet, many of us make the mistake of waiting to make change “when we feel like it.” This is where the practice begins: not when we feel great, not when everything is running smoothly. Right here. What if feeling like crap wasn’t your obstacle, but your jumping off point? It’s the place where you could become curious, try different things, report back, and start over again. This way, you don’t ever have to wait to start. You can always begin right now.