It Felt Love
Did the rose
Ever open its heart And give to this world
Beauty? It felt the encouragement of light
We all remain Too Frightened.
Spring has come, as it does every year, but I never grow tired of the awakening that happens when the days get longer. My garden blooms as hibernation comes to an end. It feels a bit easier to breathe and certainly contentment is less difficult to practice.
I've thought a lot about Santosha over the past 9 months. The turmoil of moving, a remodel, moving again and finishing graduate school made me realize how hard contentment really is. I wrote about it last October, about how easy it is to think we're good at being content when we think within the context of ease. Once effort is required, santosha usually becomes such a challenge that I brush it aside and focus on other ethical teachings of yoga.
Spring seems like a good time to strengthen this particular niyama (internal practice). It's a hopeful time and I can easily find moments in each day that feel good and contentment is nearly effortless. But there's usually enough turmoil in this season to provide brief tests, when contentment is less a feeling and more a choice. Like those days of rain and wind we get after a teaser of sun and warmth.
Meditation is as good a way as any I've tried to encourage growth in this area. It's easy to get carried away with the business of spring, to become over-stimulated with light and activity. A few minutes of quiet, alone, goes a long way. And when I say a few, I literally mean 3-5 minutes. If you think you can't "do meditation," try it for a week. Start or end your day in silence, just briefly, and see what happens. Set the timer on your phone for 3 minutes, sit and breathe and observe your mind. If that feels easy, add another minute. If it's a challenge, be willing to stick with 3 minutes, even if it feels silly and a bit wimpy (it's not). As someone wise whom I can't recall wrote, "solitude is where you gather yourself." It's counter-intuitive in our hyper-connected world. Silence can be unsettling, but spend enough time there and you just might build santosha capacity for life's effort-ful moments.