Cultivating Contentment in the Era of Coronavirus
Yesterday I felt myself sliding into another funk as I listened to the news.
Even though my prayer and meditation practice has been quite strong, the latest news felt like a bit much to take.
I went for a walk with my dog Dixie and called my BFF Nina Lynn for advice.
I knew this wasn’t a situation for St. John’s wort, a natural healing herb for depression, or Gorse, a Bach flower remedy for when one has lost all hope, although either remedy could be prescribed for anyone wanting to try to scratch the surface of what I was feeling.
No, the answer, I knew, wouldn’t come from taking anything but from a deep shift of my inner attitude.
“I know you’ve been meditating…”Nina observed.
“And I know you feel grateful.
“Make a list of what you truly feel happy about,” she advised me.
Finding our way mentally emotionally during this challenging period of global change takes more than one approach.
Although I have taught yoga for 25 years it wasn’t until about 5 years ago that I started meditating as if my life depended upon it.
I had broken up with my fiancé and the city of Atlanta construction crews had damaged the road in front of my home.
My house was literally shaking.
You could stand in my back driveway during the day and feel the earth shake.
My neighbors and I all had earthquake meters on our phones.
In the middle of the night large trucks would literally rattle the house when they drove by at 2 a.m., waking me up from the deepest sleep.
There was nothing I could do except meditate for hours and hours every day.
After meditating hours and hours every day for months on end I woke up one morning and noticed I felt happier than I had ever been!
A lifesaving habit had been formed.
This morning, after my prayer and meditations, I began to ponder what Nina had been advising and remembered the yogic principle of santosha, or contentment.
What is santosha?
Santosha is the second niyama, or yogic precept, recommended by Patanjali, the founder of yoga, in his Yoga Sutras.
Seems paradoxical, right – feel happy and all those thoughts of people who are sick and those who have died and lost their jobs won’t bother you so much. Really?
When I first started teaching yoga 25 years ago I devoured practically every book I could find about yoga philosophy.
Many of us falsely believe that when we cultivate an attitude of contentment we might become complacent or lazy or unmotivated to make continuous improvement.
Paradoxically, the yogic texts advised me, when we cultivate contentment we become not only O.K. with all that is, this feeling of deep inner peace empowers us to ride the waves of profound transformation with ease and grace.
When I was studying natural healing, I learned about the acupuncture meridian for the stomach that is governed by the same principle as santosha.
The emotion of profound contentment strengthens your stomach meridian.
The emotions that weaken our stomach meridian include:
When we fall into the trap of feeling there’s never enough, no matter how much we get or spend or try to fill ourselves up – whether that be with food, distractions, activities, legal or illegal drugs – never enough is never enough.
So this morning as I lay in bed after prayer and meditation I followed the sage advice of my dear friend Nina Lynn and began to make a list of not just what I’m grateful for but what I feel truly happy about.
Not least on the list, today being Mother’s Day, I’m so happy my 83-year-old mother, a true treasure to humanity, is still alive and that she and I are so close and have so much fun together.
As I began to not just think about what I’m grateful for but to feel how happy I feel about all the many blessings of my life, I felt my heart open once again and my natural energy and enthusiasm come roaring back.
No doubt I will have to repeat this exercise many times in the days, weeks and months to come.
Like my prayer and meditation practice, another lifesaving habit is being reinforced.
What is healing? Healing happens when we feel happy about all the many blessings of this life.