Friday, January 9, 2009
Can I get a side of Santosha with that?
Partly because of a post over at So This Is Wonderland and partly because of an e-mail sent from the main yoga studio where I practice, this morning I'm really thinking about the ideas of wealth and abundance.
I listen to NPR every morning (perhaps foolishly), and as usual, there were the usual reports today:
"President-elect Barack Obama met with Congressional leaders to urge them to pass his economic stimulus plan which could run into the trillion-dollar mark."
"Job losses have reached a record high as people try to cope with a struggling economy."
"Investors on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange have taken to rocking in corners and sucking their thumbs."
"Financial analysts say we're all fucked and should begin foraging for acorns."
Ad nauseum (literally).
So, honestly what the hell are we supposed to do? I can't say I'm not freaked, because I left a corporate job at the end of July to puruse my passion for yoga and sacred movement, hoping to parlay that into something financial sustainable.
Right now, I'm working part-time at a great store called Lululemon; I'm still writing freelance articles for the Washington Blade; and I'll be performing a stage-adaptation of Dante's Divine Comedy with the Synetic Theater Company - all for some cash-ola.
Yet, despite downsizing an apartment, cutting some bills, dropping the cell phone entirely (which I'm notorious for losing, breaking, throwing in fits of pique, etc.), I still get into the, "Oh-my-God, I'm fucking broke. What about the future? What about savings? I don't want to eat cat food!"
Okay, first of all, let's remember the power of ujayi breath - one of the sacred yogic breaths that sounds like the ocean.
Right. Brain waves slowing down - good.
Secondly, as I sit here typing while baking some dried figs stuffed with walnuts in wine and honey, I realize that things are good.
I stare out the window as the sun pours through the blinds and watch the bluejays, tufted tit mice, and finches fly onto the porch and eat the birdseed I put out for them yesterday.
And all of this reminds me of Santosha - the yogic principle of contentment. Appearing in the yogic sage Patanjali's famed Yoga Sutra as one of the "niyamas" (which are suggestions as to how we treat ourselves - the "yamas" being how we interact with the world around us), santosha is about being content with where we are right now, this instant.
This means even in the face of difficulty and challenge (traffic, financial hardship, relationship woes, disease, etc.), we learn to pause, breathe, and sink in, recognizing that we are here.
And while "wealth" is great and all, like anything else it ebbs and flows. So, too, does santosha (at least for me). But unlike monetary accumulation, I don't have to put in eight hours, sell my soul, become a corporate automaton to get some santosha in my life.
May all of you find a little santosha today and every day.
(The first image is of the lovely and wonderful Potomac River. These are the waterfalls of the Potomac, one of the fastest moving rivers in the country, and these falls are very close to the Washington area. The second image is of a bluejay, who love unshelled peanuts. It's a stock image from Flickr. The final image can be found here.)