In my last post, I wrote, “I feel at home in my heart these days.” What do I mean by that?
In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the idea of “Samtosha” (sometimes spelled “Santosha”) signifies contentment. For me, cultivating Samtosha requires a combination of understanding, acceptance and surrender. When I feel upset or rattled or troubled (vs. content) about something, I ask myself, “Is this something I can change? If so, what action makes sense? If not, what practices will help me reach acceptance of and surrender to this uncontrollable concern? How can I grow to be content with things just as they are?”
Interestingly, my life circumstances that seem unfortunate or tragic have actually fortified me – because these hardships drive a commitment to self-knowledge for the sake of personal transformation and serving others. I have studied and witnessed my behaviors, growth and change as a human being. So I can’t say enough for self-awareness as a tool for accepting humanness in general. I don’t even need to understand others – just myself. When upset by someone, I can either stew in resentment, or, I can change my negative opinion by remembering my own past, process and fallibility. Acceptance leads me to surrender any illusion of control over people; and this surrender leads to inner peace and contentment.
Second, I must consistently cultivate confidence in, acceptance of and love for my self. I have to grow to be at home in my heart. And this take practice.
One of my favorite yoga tools is “Pratipaksha Bhavana” – replacing negatives with positives. Sometimes my own negative opinion of myself can cause problems all around me! So I try to use Pratipaksha Bhavana to tune into the positive and cultivate a content mind.
When Pratipaksha Bhavana is not enough, I have to dig into my heart center and find its ever-positive truths. To do this, I like to use an exercise called “Write from the Heart,” which came from a 2005 issue of Body & Soul Magazine.
In this exercise, I: Identify a specific concern at the top of a piece of paper; write, “I know in my heart…” and finish the sentence with a natural, immediate response; after repeating this about 10 times, I pause, breathe, then keep going until out of things to say. Knowing that no one has to read this, I can be totally honest, dissolving resistance and building confidence.
I was drawn to write today’s blog because I am in conflict with someone who is dear to me, and, I know that this conflict is a result of the stress, self-doubt and uselessness I’m feeling due to unemployment. I understand my part (a fear-triggered mind, not shifted quickly enough by the above-described practices!), I accept the other person’s humanness (I felt wronged, but hindsight is 20/20), and I surrender to whatever the situation may bring (we have plans to talk next week).
Still, my heart and mind feel troubled.
So right here, right now (after a pause to brew tea, breath and meditate), I am going to “Write from the Heart.”
- I know in my heart…there is a chance for healing with this person.
- I know in my heart…I will find the right work situation and be safe, secure.
- I know in my heart…my fears are valid but temporary. I honor them as teachers.
- I know in my heart…I am not PTSD-triggered and insecure…although sometimes, due to certain situations, I can be.
- I know in my heart…I am not an aggressive person, although due to some situations, I sometimes can be.
- I know in my heart…I am a loving, caring, generous and connecting person.
- I know in my heart…I deserve.
- I know in my heart…the right job awaits me.
- I know in my heart…there can be healing with this person.
- I know in my heart…I have already learned about myself from this situation.
- I know in my heart…I am useful, helpful and of service.
- I know in my heart…although my past sometimes trips me up, my present is bright and hopeful.
- I know in my heart…I do not need to be afraid.
- I know in my heart…I am loved, thought about, cared about.
- I know in my heart…all will be exactly as it’s meant to be.
- I know in my heart…I yearn to and have tools to come from my loving, confident, clear, true heart.
- I know in my heart…how lucky I am to be willing to grow and learn and change.
- I know in my heart…love is out there…and in here.
Wow. (Big exhale.) That was intense. And awesome.
When I am accepting of and surrender to the truths in my heart, I feel at home there. This healthy heart then rules my perception, my thoughts, my actions, my interactions. I might not have control over situations, things and people – but my truthful, accepting and content heart may certainly have an effect.
I know today is March 1st, but I want to thank you, dear readers and students, for spending the month of February moving, exploring, and opening your hearts with me. I am honored. OM Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.