Settling Into Contentment

C O N T E N T M E N T :

A concept that, quite frankly, used to frighten me.
A quality I, for a long time, found myself running from.
A way of being I associated with laziness, passivity and mediocrity.

For so long I saw being content as a sign of weakness; settling in the absence of striving and seeking -- and I've never been one to settle.

I've always wanted to live my best life and to be the best version of myself. I saw this as a sign of determination, perseverance and strength, disguised as a limitless attitude and way of orienting. And while I do very much still want to live my best life and will always aim to be the best version of myself, these definitions and the path to getting there have shifted entirely...

The Sutras succinctly say, “by contentment, supreme joy is gained” (II.42). Within this sutra Patanjali defines contentment as being where we are without going to outside things for our happiness. This is not to say that being content means we stop striving to be our best, or that being content means we stop dreaming and following those dreams. We can and must continue to put in the work and dive into our dharma with devotion; we can and must stay curious; we can and must keep growing.

Can we do all of this and remain unattached to outcome? Can we embrace what is as it isand feel this level of acceptance and ease permeate from our very core?

I am no longer interested in having my level of happiness and fulfillment come from external factors. I am no longer willing to ignore my needs in order to accomplish something that, on the outside, seems bright and shiny. Today the only inspiring destination to arrive at is that of internal contentment -- a quality that is unwavering and secure and can dance with me through the darkest of times. 

As teacher and author Donna Farhi says, though the yoga practice we begin to “align ourselves with the ebb and flow of life rather than fight it” and in doing so, over time, “we begin to recognize that in between the ups and downs and the coming and going, there is a matrix of stillness that is the backdrop of all phenomena.” 

For me, this “matrix of stillness,” is contentment in its most raw, real form. Here there is no pushing, pulling, tugging, gripping -- there is merely  a settling into stillness and a landing in what is.

I don't know about you, but I'd settle for this any day...

Every time I come to mat; every time I bring my hands to my heart; every time I bow down post-meditation - I remind myself of this intention to cultivate and embrace ease, to move through this life with grace and to find and feel this matrix of stillness living within.

May this practice act as a reminder that YOU are enough. May you believe in your abilities and tune into the vastness of possibility surrounding you. May you honor all that you have and all that IS working for you, right now. And as always, may your practice continue to remind you of your innate wisdom and inner knowing — may you trust it and let it guide you, moment-to-moment, breath-by-breath.

Lauren Cohen