There is a lot of information to be had on the subject of contentment. How you get it, ways to keep it and why it is so important.
Happiness is vital to our physical and mental health. When we are happy, each day is a joy to greet, we look forward to being with others and eagerly anticipate our future.
There is a reason for this. When we are happy, those feelings of positivity connect us with the universe. When we are in sync with nature, we are aligned with the vibration of love, joy and contentment. Attuned to the universal flow of energy, we accumulate support and guidance and are able to receive what it is that we most desire. Wow, that sounds powerful, doesn’t it?
“When I first began to study yoga I thought that samadhi was a trancelike state which would take the practitioner away from everyday consciousness to a better state of being. Over the years, my understanding has changed. Now I think of samadhi as exactly the opposite of a trance. Samadhi is a state of being intensely present without a point of view. In other words, in samadhi you perceive all points of view of reality at once, without focusing on any particular one.” – Judith Lasater
Samadhi is often defined as enlightenment or the highest state of consciousness. In its illusiveness, it is the 8th and final limb of the yogic system. There are many variations and explanations of its meaning – a state of bliss, communion with God, union with the ultimate reality… In the end, I have concluded that it is a most personal experience. You receive your samadhi based on what it is that you most seek…
Now that we have built our foundation for a steady yoga practice, we are ready to begin supporting our practice so that we can keep it going. In my experience, I have found that the best way to keep a steady practice is to form balance. Balance teaches us to be moderate and achieve evenness – it keeps you upright and steady. And, in order to form balance you need to establish pillars to hold up your practice. We will begin with the yamas and the niyamas. These are the yogic branches of abstentions and observances that can stabilize your asana practice.
We have to dig deep for this week’s challenge. Although happiness is not a simple process, it is ours to generate. Yes, we can allow other people and things to affect us. But, we need to realize that it is our reaction and what we do in response to others and the situations that we are presented with that ultimately determines our happiness.
There is a saying in Sanskrit, “Aham Brahmasmi” which, through my yoga teachings, I was taught meant “I am the creative principle.” Without denying a higher existence, this phrase is intended for us to see ourselves as creators of our own destinies. Through my own attitudes and actions, I believe that I am the one who develops my personality, healthiness, career, social life – all aspects of my self. No one else can determine these characteristics. In the end, all of my karmas (deeds) are going to reflect upon me.
Although we have control over many of our choices, there are some things that we are obligated to and some situations which we face as a society that cannot be detached from or eliminated. Family, jobs, some health issues, even options for food, water and shelter may not be ours to regulate. But our attitude towards these seemingly unfortunate conditions is ours to control. We can cultivate contentment or santosha within despite any unpleasant situations that face us.
I would like to share a story that my teacher, Goswami Kriyananda, told his students over the years. Kriyananda was drafted in the Vietnam War and chose to become a medic rather than fight in the field. As a medic he experienced horrific events – as you can imagine. One such occurrence involved a young soldier that he had to assist after an explosion. As he approached the man, he saw that there was a gaping hole where once the man had a right arm. As he ministered to the soldier, Kriyananda wept and told him how sorry he was that he had lost his limb. The soldier, smiling, replied “That’s not a problem, I’m left handed!”
Our state of health is a large slice of the happiness pie. As we strive to stay healthy, circumstances occur that are beyond our control. This is most difficult as pain and impairment can be devastating. But there are other segments within our lives: mental abilities, friendships, belief systems, dreams, environments and work or career goals that can influence our quality and pleasure levels in life.
Your challenge is to reflect on all the aspects of yourself. Determine which area(s) are lacking in contentment for you and strive to make those areas more fulfilling.
Each day choose one category to examine and write down a number between 1 and 10 to label your level of contentment. Then think about how you can cultivate happiness through change – including your attitude.
This week’s challenge was to use the heart opening postures of yoga to balance the anahata chakra. Anahata literally means “unhurt, unstruck, and unbeaten”. I equate this to having a fire within your heart.
If the heart pathway is made clear and energy is allowed to flow freely, you become a more passionate person. Once you feed yourself, you find it easier to instill the qualities of harmony, peace and love in others. Remember, deep within we are all inherently seeking love. Love is all you need, love cures all, love is the answer.
Here are some ways that you can nourish your anahata chakra:
Connect with nature – get outside and find a source of inspiration
Do a good deed
Spend time with animals
Use the essential oil Rose – smelling it actually brings a smile to your face
Surround yourself with what makes you happiest – flowers, music and photos can trigger positive emotions
Live by this quote from the poet Rumi, “Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love”
If you would like more insight into my heart’s desires, click on my pinterest link . Feel free to like, repin, or build your own boards. It’s a fun way to discover your passions and find new sources of inspiration.