(Photo by Dana Wyss, anonymous street artist)
“Discontentment is the illusion that there can be something else in the moment. There isn’t and there can’t be. The moment is complete. That means if I am bored or sad, I will only be discontented if I am not content to be bored and sad. Building contentment with boredom, sadness, impatience, depression, disappointment and loss, builds our ability to be the tall tree so rooted in the earth that great winds cannot topple it.” - Deborah Adele
How many of the moments of our lives are spent in wishing, wanting, in yearning? How much of our precious energy do we devote to resisting, avoiding, or denying what is, doggedly replacing reality with irrational demand, turning from reality to fantasy? What might it be like to release these habits, even for a short time? What might we do with all that free time and energy?
These days, observing the yogic ethical practice of Santosha, or contentment, might be considered a radical act. Why? Consider that every marketing campaign in existence highlights what's missing from our lives; a cultural "bootstrap" mentality honors endless self-improvement; competitive environments in our work and personal spheres often lead us to focus on our "flaws" and shortcomings, as defined by current trends. In short, we have very little societal support for allowing things to be what they are, for appreciating just what is. In order to weave a spirit of calm allowing - a spirit of "not seeking" - into our lives, we must practice. Where to begin practicing contentment? With gratitude.
In every moment of our lives, there are challenges or struggles, and there are gifts or resources. By engaging in practices of noticing and appreciating the gifts and resources in our lives, we "fill the well". From this full, strong and resourced place, we're better equipped to view the full catastrophe of our lives without turning away or closing down. When we move through the world with a full well, we're more likely to notice the strengths and resources of those around us. We're also more likely to extend compassion to them when we're seeing their rougher edges. By first viewing ourselves, others, and the circumstances of our lives through the lens of gratitude, we expand our ability to see what we have as rich, as enough.
When we've established ourselves in a foundation of gratitude, we might then begin to name things as they are, without trying to change them in any way. This is the practice. We ask ourselves, "what is happening"? We name what we see, without moving into story. Conflict. Unrest. Detachment. Relaxation. Mystery. We ask ourselves, "what am I feeling in this moment"? We name the emotions moving through us. Anger. Impatience. Jealousy. Fulfillment. Curiosity. Simply naming what is happening, inside and outside ourselves. Letting it be what it is. Allowing it. What happens next? That, my friends, I will allow you to discover for yourself. But I'll tell you this: sometimes, it feels a lot like magic. Oh! Remember that list? The one with everything you'd do with lots of extra time and energy? You'll want to keep that close by. You'll be needing it soon...
As a poetic seed for your practice, I offer you this:
All this time
The sun never says to the earth,
With a love like that,
It lights the
Dana Wyss Healing Arts
Breathe deeply, practice often, be well.