What my mum taught me about goals, and life, via learning to touch my toes


Once when I was young, maybe 11 or 12, young but not a baby yet not fully all grown up either, I embarked on a journey.

I learnt so much from this journey, then forgot it later on, and have only recently remembered again (bear with me, I’ll get there).

One day I saw my mum fold forward with straight legs and place her palms on the floor.

“That looks easy” I declared, and yet five seconds later I recanted. With all the effort an 11 year old can muster, I could only just get my finger tips on my toes.

I don’t know why, but I got excited and embarked on a mission to bring my palms to the floor.

Whenever I remembered, I practiced.

And the wonderful thing about it was I just did it. There was no negative self-talk or doubt or comparison, I was just excited to be doing something new like this.

“Palms moving towards the floor? What is this wonderful game?”

Over time - and I have no idea how long it took because I really didn’t care, just the feeling of stretching was enough reward in itself - I eventually got to the point where I could put my palms flat on the floor.

Cool huh?

I got “there” without caring or struggle because just the doing was fascinating, and fun.

How different an attitude from my adult self.

Many years later I started doing yoga, and while there was still a chunk of play there was also ambition and comparison and some absurd idea that doing yogic stunts MEANT something.

“I’m better than you because I can do this, but I’m not better than her because I can’t do that.”

Does that make sense?

I think it might for many of you reading, because as adults this is the way we do a lot of things.

Yoga was supposed to be about self-care. Switching off from the cares of the world and my tiny little mind for 90 minutes and helping my body stretch and strengthen.

But because of my attitude and competitiveness coming through, I had more focus on end goals and finish lines, than the simple joy of just doing something.

Something that would bring me to a goal for sure, but because my sole focus was on the end point it meant sometimes I was “good,” sometimes I “failed,” often I was dwelling on “Why aren’t I there yet?” and of course, “Everyone else is progressing so much faster …”

Not much fun, and even one time I seriously injured myself, pushing my body further than what it could do at the time, trying to get there.

Ouch, it hurt and my knees still aren’t the same.

What I’m trying to say is what I learnt was don’t worry about goals too much. Get rid of the end point focus.

Because they suck. They take all the fun out of anything.

Have a goal for sure, but embrace those things that you can regularly do that bring you a little closer to that goal.

If you want to get technical, embrace the “system” you put into place that when done on a regular basis, takes you there, where ever “there” is for you.

Break it all down into what you can do today: The moment by moment, step by step practice of what you can do next.

Talking your practice of Ascension and meditation … this practice isn’t really so much your goal of endless peace, being completely free of regret and anxiety and worry and learning to master your mind …

A very nice thing I agree …

It’s about embracing the daily practice. Just sit and do. Make it a habit like brushing your teeth. No matter how busy you are, learn to enjoy the time given to you, just you, to sit and do nothing: All so you can do everything else so much better.

Do this, and you will get to where you want to go, and further, but never struggle, never strain, because it is only about the next step.

To take it down a level even further:

Embrace the practice of Now.

When you forget, remember.

When you blow a fuse and fly off the handle or get so worried your mental activity could light up a small town …

It’s not further proof that you are “a failure and you’ll never get there and everyone else is doing it better so why don’t you quit right here, right now …”

See it as a chance to reaffirm and keep heading to where you want to go, no matter what happens.

Take it as a chance to play in the world of being able to let go of whatever has happened and begin fresh, once again.

To make now more important than any other moment in time.

To not feed the voice of self-condemnation and violence.

To be gentle and loving and compassionate with the one person who really matters most – You.

So – get rid of mastery, get rid of “Am I there yet?”, and just explore this, here, now.

Practice those things that take you where you want to go, and assume an attitude of play, of learning, of exploration and curiosity.

Some days you will be amazing and some days you will not be. But you’re still amazing, none the less.