Find Contentment in Troubling Times

A wave of sadness overcame me on Sunday evening. While it's not the first time that's happened over the past several months, it surprised me nonetheless as it seemingly came out of nowhere. I broke into tears and had a hard time explaining what was wrong. It felt like nothing, but everything at the same time. 


I'm typically a happy-go-lucky, glass-half-full optimist, so my sadness took my husband by surprise. I can usually find the silver lining even in the toughest circumstances. This time though - all I felt was sadness. 


I'm sad that so many people are dying, and that instead of coming together, our society feels more divided than ever. I can't wrap my head around how people can be so nasty to each other. I've been seeing a lot of this on social media. My guess is that the same people lashing out from behind their devices wouldn't be that dismissive or cruel to someone in person, but yet, there they are using hurtful words in response to someone else's vulnerability or plea for understanding.


I worry about the state of our country. The economy has been hit hard, with those who were already at a disadvantage being impacted the most severely - not only due to lost jobs, but also lost health insurance. For the first time in my lifetime, other countries don't want travelers from the U.S., because we've done such a poor job managing the coronavirus. Not being able to travel is problematic not only because I love it, but it's the only way to see my family and some of my closest friends. Not to mention, travel represents a large part of my business since I lead and coordinate retreats.


This recent bout of sadness made me contemplate santosha - one of the five niyamas in the eight limb path of yoga. Santosha translates from Sanskrit as contentment. Yoga sutra 2.42 teaches us that contentment brings unsurpassed joy. Who doesn't want more joy? So how do I find contentment and peace in a world that's so f'ed up at the moment? 


I found some solace in crying tears for all that's been lost, and for our society that feels fractured. Next, I turn to that which I can control, and engage in self-care. In some ways I've reverted back to childhood with almost daily afternoon naps, and "recess" with my dogs. I put down the devices and go outside in nature, whether it's hiking or biking in the woods, or paddling on the water. I practice asana, but in ways that support me right now - with slow yin and restorative postures that allow my body to release and mind to relax. 


What are some of your favorite practices that bring you a sense of peace and contentment? Comment to let me know!

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