Sorry I have been neglecting my blog – maybe it’s because I’ve been spending too much time worrying about things that are “outside my boat”.
I was going through some of the readings I have shared with my yoga students and I thought I would share this with you! It’s one of my favorites, one of my very wise yoga teachers shared it with me! Thanks Dolly!
It’s Outside My Boat
A man was interviewing the people involved in the rowing sports at the Olympics. He began questioning them, wondering about how they handled things like strong currents, hot sun, pouring rain, nasty weather, competition, fatigue, etc. They all responded with a similar and resounding “That’s outside my boat”. They had been trained to control only what was inside their boat (their attitude and their focus) and let the rest go.
This story had a great impact on me. Try though we might, we are unable to control things like the weather, our spouse, rude drivers, the economy, etc. Now I often find myself in situations asking “is this inside my boat or outside my boat?” Then I try to adjust my attitude accordingly! If I’m out for a walk and the sky opens up in a torrential downpour, that’s outside my boat. My getting pissy about the rain isn’t going to make it stop!
When you notice yourself getting tense or tweaked about something, take a huge, full, deep breath. This will help get you fully embodied in the moment and more clear in what you’re feeling. Then inquire, “is this inside my boat or outside my boat?” If the answer is “outside”, then it takes discipline to channel the energy toward the only thing we can control, which is our attitude. For me, this almost always involves finding gratitude (how lucky I am just to be alive and have two legs that work, how lucky we are to have the rain) and/or compassion (for the couple trying to hide under a jacket under a tree to avoid getting wet!) Either way, through gratitude or compassion and breath, the shift of attention has switched from what we can’t control to what we can, which is our attitude. Having the discipline to change our focus requires that we learn to let go. It’s often easier to stay stuck in the blame game. It’s easy to blame the rain for our bad mood, but in reality the external landscape has nothing to do with our own internal landscape. Letting go asks us to step back calmly and figure out if the situation is something we can genuinely control or not, then acting from that with conscious choice. Letting go of the need to control outside influences also brings us fully into the present moment. Suddenly, we’re not wasting energy worrying about a future that hasn’t happened yet, or dwelling in a past that is long gone.
Wayne Dyer says, “You cannot always control what goes on outside, but you can always control what goes on inside.” Life will likely continue to be challenging and our project is to be like the cyclone that derives its power from a calm center. When we are able to focus simply on what’s inside our boat, we are then able to embrace the beautiful, perfect, messy unfolding of our life, just as it is! Ask yourself if you want to be bitter or better, then alter your thinking to support that paradigm.
Remember, you are the captain of your own soul! Your boat represents your life journey while the condition of the water and weather represent the challenges you face along the way. There will be days of calm beauty followed by raging winds and and choppy currents. Your attitudes and thoughts are the paddles that keep you moving forward and upright despite the external forces. So, next time you feel challenged, ask yourself if it’s “outside you boat”. If it is, then focus on what you’re in control of (what paddles you’ve got your hands wrapped around) and let the rest go!