What???? Happiness is the not the goal??
Nope! Happiness is not always the goal – although its an awesome feeling we all should have. And the emotion of Sadness should not be always be avoided – although it feels pretty icky. Contentment through it all (Santosha) is the goal. A trusted friend and teacher reminded me of this.
Feelings of happiness, just like feelings of sadness come and go. Nothing is permanent in our external environment, which can be so unsettling, especially if change is difficult for you (like me). I used to think I was good at change, highly resilient – a gift from a childhood that was pretty rough. But after I l really looked back at how I actually responded to all the major changes in my life as an adult (even the best ones), I realized that maybe I wasn’t as good at it as I thought. I partied, I gained weight, I dove head first into work. I don’t remember being happy or sad during those times, just busy trying to be good at change. I wasn’t present to the change- just surviving it. Recently, in my asana practice I felt that same way. Just surviving the pose I was in, letting my mind be busy, checking out (not checking in).
What does this have to do with Contentment? Asana makes it simple to explain. Its easy to find contentment in child’s pose as you rest, let your body soften, and your mind relax- UNTIL that inevitable moment when your mind wants to evaluate, judge or get pissed or whatever. Its difficult to find contentment in Goddess pose as your thighs are burning and your legs want to fall off – UNTIL you decide to soften, relax, and breathe (don’t get me wrong-its still hard-but thats the point). Contentment exists in both places (the easy and the hard) and the opposite exists in both places too. The difference is knowing and then choosing.
The practice of Contentment takes us out of the fluctuation of happy and sad, encourages us to soften in both places, and allows us to be present to our experience.
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