Feeling contentment during this time of global unease, disease and angst that is the COVID disaster of 2020 is patently ludicrous.
To me, feeling contentment happens when I’m resting in a lawn chair watching aspens glitter, drinking coffee after a long trail hike. Or hunkering down on the couch with RussellClive, a chai and Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, spending the afternoon going nowhere.
In these scenarios, of course, I have nothing to worry about. No pressing deadlines, no new website platforms to learn in order to keep my business afloat because my entire city is locked in their homes, terrified to touch anything or anyone. No parents or grandparents who could get sick. No friends who have suddenly lost their source of income just weeks before having their second baby. No cell phone to continually check the unnerving minute-by-minute alteration of the Rules of Coronavirus. In these contentment daydreams, I am a veritable fortress of ease.
This is not happening so far in 2020. I’m not feeling contentment. I’m feeling sometimes like the roof is falling in and other times like this whole thing is an inside joke that I’m smiling frantically along to, not unlike my mentor Michael Scott.
In Yoga Philosophy, inner contentment is one of the five core personal practices, called niyamas. You can read more about core Yoga Philosophy on my page key yoga learnings.
The Yoga Sutra written about contentment (santosha) is translated as, “From contentment one gains supreme happiness.” (II.41)
Which, at the moment, sounds naive and opaque and wildly unhelpful. But as a yogi and spiritual seeker, my responsibility is to pause and discern: where is there wisdom in this?
Here is the wisdom:
If my primary aim is to feel contentment, I’m doomed. There will always be something newer, shinier, bigger and better promising “supreme happiness!” Feelings are fleeting unreliable (you nailed it with Inside Out, Pixar), and suffering is an inevitable part of the human experience.
However, if my primary aim is to be contentment, secure in my worth, my deepest connection to Source, my commitment to my vision of a healed world and to my values of compassion and graciousness and authenticity…. no matter what… I might have a chance.
Contentment cannot be based on what I own or my hierarchy on the corporate restructuring chart or what plaques I hang on the wall or how many people look up to me or how relevant I am on social media. The minute I start attaching my worth, my identity, my sense of fulfillment and sense of self to any external situation, it can be taken away. Suffering will surely follow.
Contentment has to be based on who I am and how I forge a refuge of reverence for the incredible gift that is my next breath.
Contentment isn’t a feeling. Contentment is a Knowing. It’s a deep inner knowing that, even in the midst of suffering, I’ve chosen to be grateful that I am alive in this present moment. And to act with compassion in this present moment. And to speak with integrity and clarity, and counsel wisely and care deeply and choose authentically in this present moment.
People flow in and out of our lives, possessions come and go, even opinions and ideals change over time. In other words, the outer world is in constant flux; yoga says that the only conceivable way to feel anchored in contentment is to remember that our depth, meaning and deepest Self orbits not around these changing circumstances (prakriti) but is anchored to the permanent light of awareness and Creative Source that sustains all living things. That, readers, is santosha.
I offer you this Santosha Guided Meditation as a practice of reverence and refuge. Please return to it often and share it with loved ones.
Santosha Guided Meditation
Guided Meditation Teachings
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