Contentment is an active practice of being ok with right now, in whatever form it takes. It includes taking responsibility for one's perspective, attitude, and measure of personal control (which is only accessible in the present moment). Practice joy in the experience, rather than comparison of a particular ideal or expectation. Perfection exists within every moment, or it doesn't exist at all. Dare to practice contentment with discomfort. It is different than relishing in it, or using it to gain something, like pity. It is calling upon the discomfort as a tool for healing. Listening to it. Honoring it.
For example, today I'm experiencing what is known as a "Fibro Flare". I have joined a 24-hour gym for a year. It is close enough to walk. I thought I would see a trainer once a month to keep me accountable, but generally work out a strength-training plan with light cardio. No, that's not what happened. Serendipitiously, the trainer and I work exceptionally well together, so I signed up for a year after my very first workout. There is something very familiar about his energy. We would have become friends if we had met around a drum circle AND we speak the same medically-based exercise terms. We are building trust. It is scary. It is uncomfortable. It is uneasy. It is worth it, if it works.
Just like in yoga, I am learning to remap my neuro-pathways. I am creating a relationship with my body... this body that I barely recognize in the mirror... this body that seems like an enemy a lot of the time. We are linked like family. We have had a rough relationship for the past decade. We're still sorting our differences, but there is deep love for what we've been though in this life together. I know my body didn't ask for Fibromyalgia, and there is so much more to our story than just that diagnosis. To practice contentment, I have to acknowledge where we are in this moment and listen attentively with an intent to respond with love. Today, my pain level is in the 6-7 range, overall. 9 in my feet, ankles, and hips. No matter the temptation to stay home, I stayed committed to go to the gym. The trainer could see I was in pain as I walked in the door. My posture told him everything before I even said a word.
It is spring, so I've been pushing myself to walk a lot more than usual, plus this is week three of personal training 2x. This is a familiar pattern. In the past experiences, the trainer has pushed me along our plan without heeding caution to the FibroFlare, but not this time. We did enough work to keep tracing those neuro-pathways without stressing the body. It is already in stress mode from the Fibromyagia. I did what I could do for today.
My mantras to get through, "I showed up. I'm doing my best. I'm listening to my body."
I say the same thing to myself in yoga asana practice.
I made it for the full 30-minutes, with the last five being a quick-paced low-grade hill on the treadmill. Propelling myself forward to walk correctly in today's body... actively meditating as I'm walking... taking more nature hikes... walking to/from the gym... this is how I will transform. To practice samtosha is to practice appreciation and love for today. This body today. This mind today. This inner critic today. Love it all. Meet it with a true understanding that the real "me" is right where she needs to be. It is only my job to slow down, breathe, and listen. Then, it is my job to follow through with what comes through. This pain lets me know when to slow down. In this down-time, I can make some lists to organize this foggy brain. I can eat some healthy foods and drink some water. I can listen to the birds and to pleasant music. I can be ok in this moment, too.
No comparison with last year. No comparison with next year.
Appreciation for now. Reaping the benefits of a positive lifestyle. Celebrating the simple success of being alive and awake and aware and attuned to attentive aspirations.
♫ What to focus on to improve upon in the face of our ancient drives.
Feel so clear. Feel so obvious.
To each one on their own,
but we're here together reaping what time and what we have sown.♪
- Jose Gonzalez