Contentment

The weeks are going so quickly for me.  Each day moves into evening even though the evenings are so long and light.  There is still a surreal nature to this life we’re living right now.

I am so very grateful for all the time I have right now.  I have time to practice yoga and meditation, to garden, to make wonderful meals, to just sit and be.  A wise friend told me, “Time is the new money.”, and it feels true to me.  I can have the same relationship with time as I sometimes do with money:  I want more!  I want to hoard it?  I want to hold on to it and feel it slip away when I cling.  This desperation changes my enjoyment of the time, loading it with expectations and therefore disappointments.

Enter the Guilt Monsters…if I have this free time, why haven’t I made any masks?  Why don’t I volunteer to deliver groceries?  What about all those creative projects I imagined doing 5 weeks ago?  Why is my house getting dirtier and I don’t reach for the broom? Why does a beer sound so good?

The yogic teachings support our potential happiness with basic teachings about attitudes toward life.  If you’ve heard of the 8 limbs of yoga, only one is named for the yoga poses.  Two of these limbs are dedicated to moral precepts, called yamas and niyamas.  There are 10 of these guidelines, and they echo similar ideas from other spiritual paths:  non-harming, non-stealing, truthfulness, etc.  The niyama I want to share today is called Santośa in sanskrit, and usually translates as contentment.

Contentment does not mean complacency or giving up the will.  It can’t mean that I turn away from the troubles of the world, nor that I allow myself to be swallowed by them.  Contentment could be experienced as the feeling of “enough”.  I have enough. I do enough. I give enough. I am enough, right now, just as I am.

I have had many moments of feeling the delight of “enough”, and even way more than enough, as I while away my days moving my big pile of aromatic dirt throughout my yard.  I am dizzied by the abundance of avocado toast in my life, while I know that every day kids in our town line up at their schools to receive a free meal.  I am confused by news that thousands died just yesterday in our country and I do not personally know one person who is sick.  My heart is struggling to grow so huge to feel the world and also hold these tiny things in my very hands: delicate, white root hairs, snails, the iridescent beetle.

I know that I want to do both and this is my offering to you this week.  Meditation practice can support this wish to hold everything without clinging or getting swept away (see Contentment on the Practice Recordings page).  The idea is to let life live through you.  I like to imagine myself become less and less solid, maybe like fabric that can breathe.  Over time, the mesh of the threads becomes looser, like a screen or like lace, and there is more breath coming through.  Then the holes get bigger, until the fabric is more like a bunch of holes, loosely strung together.  At last, the strings dissolve and there is only breath.  Life can breathe through me.

Santośa – contentment.  Let life live through you.  Finding that it is enough, you are enough.