So, I’ve been feeling a lot this week, which is honestly uncomfortable for me. And I’ve had a whole bunch of emotion-provoking material to work with (read: there is some tough life stuff happening).
Work-related stressors are plentiful, a good friend moved away, my grandmother’s health took a turn for the worse, there is an abundance of things I want to do and not enough time to do them in, I’m choosing to do some of the things that terrify me, my right wrist has been acting up, the list could go on and on.
And with all of this stuff swirling around, this week I felt dark, heavy, worried, sad, anxious, lonely, afraid, depressed … You might as well have invited a violin player to follow me around for a perpetual pity party, because in my head — “poor me” — was the mantra.
But that’s part of life.
Darker heavier feelings are part of life. We will all naturally have times when we feel sad, lonely, worried, afraid, etc. And this week in teacher training, we (oh so conveniently) happened to be studying Samtosha (or Santosha, spellings vary), the first of the five Niyamas or “lifestyle observances” outlined in the Yoga Sutras. Samtosha is often translated to mean “contentment” — which Mary Paffard describes as a feeling of calm, ease, acceptance, going with the flow, even during life’s darker moments.
Giving the darkness some space.
The other night a friend and I took a detour on our way home and went on an impromptu froyo excursion. It was simple, uncomplicated and (despite my mood) fun! I felt grateful for our friendship and for the fact that she gave me the space to feel whatever I needed to feel (even though it meant I wasn’t my usual cheery self). I was also grateful for the way gummy bears get deliciously hard when you stick them in frozen yogurt.
The violin tune in my head dimmed.
Gratitude brings some needed lightness.
Even though the darker feelings are a necessary (and important) part of life, we also don’t need to wallow there forever. As I considered the little everyday things that make my heart smile, it dawned on me that this is all just part of the flow.
Just as day turns into night, and then night turns into day, my moods are fluid, shifting, cyclical. The more I focused on gratitude, the less heavy and sad I felt. And while we definitely don’t want to paste a happy mask over our pain, when we focus on gratitude, it’s possible for the pain to dissipate and make way for something lighter — the dawn of a new day.
And really, when it comes down to it, I have all sorts of simple everyday things that I’m grateful for, even amidst the tough stuff. This week my list included:
♥ A beautiful sunset
♥ Sunshiny spring days
♥ Blooming flowers everywhere
♥ The smell of burning incense
♥ My cozy bed
♥ The way I can read the first page or two of any Pema Chödrön book and immediately feel calmer
♥ My 7:15 a.m. sitting practice (Want to join me? Most days I meditate for 10 minutes, starting at 7:15 a.m. PST. Some days I don’t. Can’t meditate at that time? Consider a deep cleansing breath or two when you wake up! :))
♥ Fine-tipped Sharpie markers
♥ Feeling comfortable enough to cry on my yoga mat
♥ New clothes that fit
♥ Sweet out-of-the-blue text messages from friends near and far
While the tough stuff hasn’t gone away, by tapping into my deep well of gratitude, I am feeling more ease, calm, and acceptance around it today.
How about you? How are you feeling? What are you grateful for? Would love to hear about you…