It’s the end of the summer holiday season and we’ve all returned to our ‘normal’ day to day existence. Normal is a word that relates to that which is routinely expected by both individuals and the societies in which they live.
As an individual I have my own version of normal; what is normal to me may not be normal to you. Before you read further just take a moment right now, to have a think about all the aspects of your daily life that relate to the term ‘normal’. What events, routinely, do you expect to happen every day?
Normal Expectations Damage Relationships!
The expectations that relate to our version of ‘normal’, will affect our reactions to other people’s versions of ‘normal‘, as there really is no single definitive version of normal; there is no fixed point of what is ‘normal’. This constant evolution of ‘normal’ in our life means that normal or normality is a myth; we are all living a lie! Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that our ‘normal’ life is based on our own perception of what we believe is normal. Anything that falls outside of our own version of normal disrupts the unconscious flow of our own expectations.
In addition, the wider society contributes to the perpetuation of Expectation over Reality spreading it’s prejudicial propaganda of ‘normal’, often through media or political outlets, by either facilitating a manner of living (our way of life) or by reinforcing those choices that carry a greater weight of approval. It is only when your normal falls outside the boundaries of the societal ‘accepted norms’ that you appreciate the full force of the tide that you are swimming against. So whilst I have a version of normal that I can relate to, if it does not fall within Society’s accepted version of what is normal, I can feel somewhat excluded.
Fear of Missing Out
The motivation for all marketing campaigns is to tap into the fear that we might be missing out on a better life; that we are just a product’s purchase away from the successful and happy life we deserve or that this product will set us apart from the rest of society who are trudging their way through their boring ‘normal’ lives! What a load of codswallop! Success and happiness don’t come from owning things; they are responses to our perception of a situation. This constant barrage of media and marketing propaganda can lead us to feel disappointed with our version of ‘normal’; that our life seems mundane, boring and predictable; that we are perpetually sleepwalking our way through our day to day existence (this concept has also been used in commercials). Remember though, that whilst there is no definitive version of ‘normal’, it is NOT normal to be suffering daily. We might feel frustrated that we haven’t achieved our goals (yet) but again this is based on our own perception. Yoga teaches us that mistaken ideas and beliefs can be an obstacle so if you believe that you are failing when you are actually on the right track, your goals will constantly seem out of reach. If your daily ‘normal’ life involves constant suffering or distress it will consume your energy and persistent energy imbalances can lead to illness (the first obstacle in the Yoga Sutras).
Acceptance is the Key
When we strive for a different normal we are rejecting the essence of our life; the synchronisation of our natural energetic rhythm (like wheel cogs aligning) and to interrupt this process is to disrupt our natural force. Striving for change can be like trying to walk in the opposite direction through a large crowd; consuming large amounts of energy and getting nowhere fast. So, step away from the melee and find some time to nuture your nature. Mindfulness and meditation can help us reset our perspective (see exercise below). Heightening your sense of awareness at intervals throughout your ‘normal’ day will help you to observe the differences; the evolution of your ‘normal’. First time parents, the bereaved, those suffering a debilitating illness: all these people have experience of how ‘normal’ can change from one day to the next. It’s never the same as before; we never go ‘back to normal‘; rather move forward through normal.
Mindful Breathing Exercise
Sit and focus on that which we take for granted throughout our life; our breath. Observe the natural rhythm and fluctuations of your normal breath. Notice the pauses that punctuate the rhythm. Notice where you feel your breath originate in your body. Experiment with a different breathing rhythm to see how it makes you feel. Try counting to 4 on the inhalation and 8 on the exhalation. Introduce a pause of 4 after the inhalation. Notice how your mind has to remain focused in order to maintain this rhythm. Could you maintain this focus throughout your day and through the night? let your breath return to it’s default or normal rhythm which will already have changed since your first observations. Accept your natural rhythm; the rhythm of your normal right now and appreciate its necessity as both a steadying and liberating influence throughout your life.