Once you have tasted contentment and start to live in its beauty, you actually want this river to overflow its banks.
And that gives you the courage to move forward and make the most of this gift of life.
Someone, in one of my classes, visually blanched when I mentioned the idea of contentment. “But if we are content,” she exclaimed, “then we won’t strive to improve. We won’t make an effort. We won’t grow and learn. We will just be content.” Exactly, we will just be content. But this doesn’t mean we become a bump on a log, that we are inert and lacking in vitality. It means something far more important. It means this: If you start from a place of contentment with what is in the moment, you move forward without a sense of lack. You are conscious of your value and worth while you move in whatever direction you might go.
How content are you, right now? Can you rest in the place where you are in this moment? Or do you feel lacking, desiring, and inadequate without this and that? As part of this 52 week study, we are moving through the Yoga Sutras. They contain enormous wisdom and are guides to aid us in everyday life. One of the Niyamas is called santosha or contentment in English. These are guide posts for living our lives in ways that direct us toward lightness and happiness and greater self-knowledge and, ultimately, to the great Light and Love that lives in each of us, to the Divine Self.
CONTENTMENT — SANTOSHA
There was a time in my life when the idea of contentment would have been anathema to me. I had so many lists of goals and plans and desires — from books I wanted to read, to destinations around the world where I wanted to travel, to languages I hoped I might learn to speak, and, well, blah, blah, blah, and on and on ad infinitum. My tape deck in my car was full of ways to change my life, wasting no time while I drove from one location to another — listening to lessons on how to improve myself, repeating French phrases or German or Chinese, learning something or other. I set up the perfect arrangement to never, ever feel content and finished in this lifetime and, probably, for many to come. And worst of all, I felt pride in my list making and goal setting, like people who were content were lazy and lacked vision. In the meantime, I was dancing as fast as I could, and never happy or fulfilled. There was always more to add to the list. Now I know better.
The Yoga Vasishtha is an ancient document which contains many of my favorite writings. It says:
What is contentment? To renounce all cravings for what is not obtained unsought
and to be satisfied with what comes unsought.
Without being elated or depressed even by them — this is contentment.
Think about it. Are you always looking outside yourself for something to bring you peace and contentment? To something you want? To another person to accept and provide a sense of worth? Seeking and avoiding — that is no way to feel fulfilled and content. Ask me! I have been an expert at this. And I know what it brought me. Nothing but pain, sadness, arrogance, and helplessness.
Here are some ideas that might be helpful:
- Stop. Right now. In this moment. Stop reading. Are you content just sitting and reading? Is this possible? Maybe, in this moment, even if only for a fraction of “time,” you are content. Don’t ask for more right now. How does this feel to you?
- Do you really think that once you have that new BMW or that trip to Honolulu or that book published or that retirement fund built up, that this will ensure contentment? Are you looking outside yourself?
- Can you begin to imagine that there is already a treasure of wisdom that out ranks everything “out there” residing right there, in you? Just knowing that you are worthy and loved without all the accoutrements, the add ons from the world is quite a gift.
- Could you let go of desire and know that everything will unfold perfectly anyway, without your own effort?
Leading from a place of contentment opens up a whole new world. But first you have to try it and then stay with it.
Through contentment, there is a world within my heart.
With love and namaste, Deanne
For more, go to http://www.deannemincer.com.