When I first heard a yoga teacher say that anticipation was a killjoy, I didn't really get it. It took a while & some time on my mat before it really started to sink in & make sense to me.
Think about anticipating a really great meal at your favorite restaurant. You can taste the food - delicious. You can't wait. You spend the day, maybe the whole week, anticipating it. Then, when you get to the restaurant, there's a new menu. And they aren't serving what you want. You're disappointed, let down & the whole night is ruined.
The anticipation...and then the subsequent lack of fulfillment, kills the joy of the moment.
It's not that you can't look forward to something. It's not that you can't have goals & dreams & plans. But what you're anticipating is how you'll feel once you get something. It's like when you were a kid & you spent the whole month of December anticipating Christmas morning because you couldn't wait to get stuff that would make you feel happy & joyful. You base your joy on getting something. And when that something doesn't deliver...there goes your joy.
What if, instead of anticipating joy based on getting things, you anticipated being joyful? Or better yet, what if you just were full of joy?
Hold onto your hats, because guess what? You are full of joy. So am I. We all are. Seriously. It's just that we get so wrapped up in worry & fear & judgement & anticipation, that we lose that connection to our joy. It doesn't have to be just the season filled with joy. It can be a life full of joy. You don't find joy by getting stuff. In fact, just the opposite. The attachment to that stuff - stuff that you have or that you want, stuff that you get or don't get - that just takes you further & further away from your joy.
So how do you reconnect to this joy that you have within you? Quite simply, start by by being present. Take a few moments & just breathe. Don't even try to empty your mind of all the busyness - if you can't, and you get frustrated, you just move further away from your joy. So just breathe. But really notice each breath. How deeply can you inhale (and it's not a competition to see who can take the deepest breath!). See how it feels. How does it feel to be able to breath freely & fully. Enjoy the quality of the air. And then empty out completely. And then do it again. And again. And again. You are present in each breath. Feel that.
You might not be overcome with exhuberance & joy right away. But maybe you feel a little less stressed or fearful or worried. And maybe it's just for a moment. But in that moment, you are closer to your joy. You moved away from the stuff that separates you & your joy.
This is what we practice in yoga. Being present for each breath. One breath at a time, distancing ourselves from our fears & worries & judgements & even distancing ourselves from the anticipation of joy. One breath at a time, practicing being present. One breath at a time, experiencing joy.