No, this will not be a cheesy throwback to the Vanilla Ice era, but rather an important concept we often forget. A wise yogi once stressed that we must collaborate versus trying to control outcomes. In other words, we have to realize that we cannot control everything. Do your best to set things in motion and then take a step back and let it play out.
If we think of an example everyone can relate to, now is the time of year we are transitioning from winter to spring. And if you own a dog or have young children, you want nothing more than to have a thick, lush lawn without any of the bare spots of mud and dirt that can be tracked through your house. Unfortunately, we cannot just make grass grow on our timeline. We can fertilize, seed and water and then let nature takes it course.
The same concept is true then in raising a teenager. My caseload has many teenagers and I’m able to connect with most well. However, I am also the mother of a teenager and I can relate that raising a teenager is difficult and emotionally draining. I often feel disappointed and deflated in response to the struggle involved in trying to connect with my own teenager. Too often my mind wants to control a situation rather than collaborating, which reminds me of yoga’s lesson to find the balance between effort and ease.
The first principle of a successful practice is steady effort (abhyasa). This must be consistent, over a long period of time, without interruption, and done with reverence. Think of family dinners and consistent praise for school work and accomplishments with your teen. Activities and interactions that are enjoyable. The HOW we effort is essential – it must be done with joy and reverence. Take working out, for example, if your goal is to improve a healthy lifestyle. When you despise an exercise routine, it will be difficult to maintain this over the long haul.
A second condition of practice is that efforts must be free from attachment to outcomes (vairagya). That is to say, we should refrain from craving for things to be different than they are – what is shall be enough. Think back to the lawn and know your efforts are more than enough, just as they are with your teen. The outcomes will take care of themselves.
When we allow both steady, joyful effort without attachment to what the goal looks like, we find balance. We do not succumb to suffering from the waves of life. Accepting where you are. Living in the moment. Isn’t that what life is all about? Word to your mother.