Contentment. I’m only starting to learn what this word means for me. It isn’t a lack of stress – it is learning to settle in a more honest place with my stress. Instead of pretending everything is okay, I get real. Instead of pushing it under the carpet, I deal with the moment AND I face up to what the heck hit the fan to land me in a gnarly place. After reflecting, I refine my approach for next time and go again. I’m done running the same tire tracks. I’m over it. I love that the climate of my world is shifting from “Oh crud – It’s STILL not all done! <insert expletive here.>” to something more like “Huh. It will never all be done. And if it were, that would be sad because I’d have to be dead.” Not to be morbid but it is kind of true. We are officially yogi scientists running the longest scientific method practice ever. (Remember that one? Something like Formulate a Question, Make a hypothesis, Test Hypothesis, Validate Results, Analyze, Conclusion, Refine and repeat. Yup, that’s us – yogi scientists refining for contentment as the result.)
So, here I am exploring what contentment means for me. And as I write this, the song “Let it Be” performed by Aretha Franklin has popped into my headphones. Isn’t that the magic? Letting whatever is going on be what is going on.
You can check out this complex concept in your asana practice as well. You can move away from forcing to “get it right” (oh, how I’ve known that battering ram well in my life) toward the idea of contentment with what is actually real – what is available to you in a tension free range of movement. Train your brain to move this body in a more easeful way and it will find more and more of that new tire track. Try this small experiment.
- Wherever you are, seated or standing, get equal weight into whatever is supporting you (sit bones or feet). Take 3 natural breaths feeling where the breath is moving right now. Now name a quality for your breath – Does it feel hard? Soft? Sharp? Dry? Heavy? Light? Whatever word comes to you, just file it away noticing but not getting emotional about whether you like that feeling or not.
- Now release the right ear toward the right shoulder and go only to what is a “stretch free” range of movement. This will likely be a much smaller movement than what you are used to in a typical neck stretch.
- Pause here in this neck side bend and take 5 natural breaths.
- Bring the head back to center. Pause for 3 breaths and repeat on the second side.
- Return to center. Now again, take 3 natural breaths. Now name a quality for your breath – Does it feel smooth? Rough? Thick? Slow? Whatever word comes to you, just notice any shift from the quality prior to the movement to this new quality assessment.
So now comes the magic. What did you cultivate and can you be content with exactly what that quality is? The quality is just that – a quality and not an emotion. Can you feel that quality as the space where you are and not where you are forcing to be?
Come along with me and explore. I can promise you it is fascinating and beyond challenging to walk this road. And as we explore this fascinating world of self care and honoring where we are, we will naturally provide an example of contentment for those around us. Don’t force, simply be and move and notice. I have no doubt we will arrive together as we do so.
Let me know how it goes for you.