When I first discovered Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements, I immediately became an avid fan. For those of you who aren’t familiar the agreements, they’re four simple rules for one to lead their life by: Be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and always do your best.
These four simple rules run through my mind on a daily basis, especially the second and third agreements—don’t take things personally or ever assume. They may sound simple, but these two agreements are tricky little beasts to conquer as our innate egotistical monkey minds like to assume to world revolves around us.
My love once told me that life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it. Hearing him say ‘ten percent’ has become a plunger of hope when I find myself disintegrating into a negative spiral over life or situations. His simple statement reminds me that my mind controls my attitude and experience in the same way that taking something personally or assuming shapes the situation to whatever we want (or dread) it to be. There’s a silver lining to every situation if you can open your eyes wide enough to the experience instead of squinting them shut with the fear of expectation.
Living with a regular yoga practice has helped me to fine tune these thoughts. Practicing challenging postures puts us into a situation that might not be preferable—my legs burn, it feels like my buns might fall off my body and my mind is demonically wooing me with thoughts of decadent chocolate instead of this insanely challenging class I’m struggling through. The good news is—totally normal! Our mind WILL challenge us by tempting us to give up or think that the situation we’re in is set in stone. Remember your 90/10 ratio. The 10% is the truth. Yes, you are in a challenging situation. The 90% is left to you—you can focus on how difficult it is and say that you don’t have what it takes to succeed or you can make your aim true by altering your attitude to achieve whatever it is you desire. Odds are if you have what it takes to show up to a yoga class, you don’t want to be defeated by it—you want to walk away stronger, clearer and with a huge grin on your face. So do it! Focus on your ability to shape a situation to your advantage. Remember your goals and your determination to achieve them not through pain, grunting and embarrassing reactions but by strength, perseverance and a will to grow through joyful experience.
This isn’t always the easy path to choose, but just like it takes time to strengthen our body, it takes practice to sharpen our minds and perception. Remember the simple phrase “ten percent” when you find yourself faltering near the edge. Falling off the cliff won’t seem so daunting anymore—because you already know how to fly.José Manuel Ríos Valiente