Step Closer to the rainbow

“Everybody wants happiness, nobody wants pain, but you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain.” ~ Unknown

This journey of life can feel overwhelming at times. Western society has conditioned us to strive to be the best at everything. We learn at a very young age that we will be loved when we are the best.

The brain of a child is like a sponge, ready to soak up the flow of information that spills from our elders, our peers and the society that surrounds us. We learn the difference between good and bad, right and wrong, dangerous and safe, happy and sad. A world full of opposites is exposed to us with a powerful push in the direction of the “positive” opposite. Success is expected, failure is to be avoided. The spectrum of opposites is black and white. No grey, no blue, no red, no purple, no yellow, no orange. A whole rainbow of possibility is hidden as we are encouraged to be the best at everything we do.

As I walked the path of life, I learned quickly that I needed to push myself to be better. I was born an Irish twin with less than one year separating my elder brother and I. Whereas he took his time to get up and walk, I took my first steps before I had reached eight months. I have often wondered if this early feat was born of my tenacity or was my infant mind feeling the pressure to succeed. If only my memory would allow me to recall the emotions of those early days! My memories come into play from the age of four and I can recall that success brought with it acceptance, love and pride. Success was celebrated. Failure on the other hand didn’t come with the same positivity. It didn’t bring with it “positive” emotions or responses. In fairness to my parents, they still gave me love and hugs when I failed but failure was negative and I could feel this. I had soaked it up. I learned to make excuses for my failures and to try to find blame outside of myself. I learned to find a positive in every negative because negative was bad and I wanted love and acceptance so I had to be good.

Carrying this black and white conditioning into my adulthood resulted in the suppression and avoidance of everything negative. The goals I have set have been high and I have pushed myself aggressively towards success, covering up my failures with excuses all the while looking through the black and white lens of my conditioning. Life has a way of bringing the lessons we need to learn and when we don’t learn these lessons, they repeat themselves over and over until we do. In yoga this repetitive pattern is known as samskara where you have a conditioned automatic response to the situation at play. Consciousness doesn’t usually play a part in your samskara.

If you look back to situations where you have not succeeded at a goal, you might see your pattern. You might know how you will automatically react to your failure. Being conscious and aware helps to break this conditioning. To rewire the neural pathways that produce the conditioned response.

Balance in life is colourful. The spectrum of opposites goes from ultraviolet to infrared with the complete spectrum ever present in every situation. There is a positive in every negative and a negative in every positive because all exists at the same time. What is positive for you in one moment could be negative for you in the next. Have you ever failed at something only to find that it has led you to something better? Attachment to the positive and aversion to the negative will keep you stuck in the cycle of samskara.

To break free, you must bring your consciousness to each moment. When you fail to reach your goal, don’t react – STOP and take a deep breath. Connect with your consciousness and observe your emotion. Are you viewing the situation as black and white? Are you searching for an excuse or suppressing how you really feel? Allow yourself to feel emotions that present themselves. Feel but do not attach. Show yourself compassion and acceptance. From your awareness, look for the rainbow. See the full spectrum of opposites in your efforts to achieve this goal. Accept what was good, bad or indifferent. Remember that each passing moment is a new “now”. With each now, you have the opportunity to set new goals and to move closer to them. Each new moment brings the opportunity to show yourself love and acceptance and to move one step closer to breaking your conditioning. Little by little you will move one step closer to the rainbow.