In The Wake of Gratitude, Find Contentment

Nov 27, 2019


I spent yesterday reviewing and relishing all the many things, people and circumstances I am grateful for.

A healthy body,

A healthy family,

A thriving livelihood doing work that is deeply meaningful to me,

The many, many wonderful colleagues, teachers, and students I am connected with,

Surroundings that nurture me,

Fresh, wholesome food to eat.

And on and on and on. Gratitude. An essential practice for all of us wishing to experience more love and appreciation for this precious life.

As usual, the question on my mind is, "and so?"

How do I live this? How does gratitude help me become happier? More fulfilled? Better able to serve?

Perhaps the more important inquiry for me, for all of us, is not simply what we have to be grateful for, but how do we take the experience of gratitude, the recognition of all we are blessed with, into our lives? 

You see, I realized yesterday that for me, gratitude can be fleeting. "I'm so grateful to have a healthy, happy daughter" is quickly followed by, "Geez, I wish she would clean her room. " 

Gratitude, quickly forgotten and replaced by desire, lack, wishing for things to be different.

For me, the antidote to this dynamic is cultivating CONTENTMENT. 

Santosha: The first, and overarching of Patanjali's niyamas- precepts for bringing the state of yoga into our moment-to-moment experience.

Contentment is, as one great teacher described it, "the ability to want what you have, rather than having what you want." It's a choice, a state we can practice, a way to respond to what is.

For me, contentment brings the state of gratitude into my life. It colours the moment, the situation with satisfaction and appreciation for the way things are. It has a lingering quality that infuses itself into my actions and thoughts. 

When I'm grateful for my daughter, and allow that gratitude to transform into contentment, I'm able to hold onto it longer. I can still want her to clear her room, but that need for cleanliness is held with a larger feeling of acceptance, and even enjoyment and delight for her as she is. 

Over to you, now:

How do you experience contentment in your practice? In your life?

Today, I am grateful for ________________

Today, I choose to be content with ________________

Contentment feels____________________

Contentment is a choice I make because____________________

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