Everybody wants to be content and happy. And very few seem to be willing to pay the price. What is the price? One thing: The unwillingness to blame others as if they were the cause of my own suffering. This does not necessitate or imply that suffering goes away. Nor does it mean that there will be no triggers in life to inflame one’s discontent. It means the that the fruit of unreasonable joy which seems part providence and part prolonged contentment is in the field of my responsibility.
When I am only content because things are: “complete”, “right”, “how I want them”, “according to my rules”, etc. I am very likely bound by my neurotic want for easeful, pleasurable, stress-free life situations; all tied up with getting my special way. Usually this means that someone else is going to have to eat my discontented attitude about the way that things are. With this unwillingness to feel and be with my own discontent, I will most likely blame others as is they were the cause of my suffering. Like when your meal comes and it is not the size you expected and you bite the waitress’s head off. Or when the driver in the car in front of you doesn’t notice a green light and now you have to wait an entire 20 SECONDS before moving again.
Embrace your discontent. It’s yours and nobody elses. It is your chance to have some genuine, embodied impetus for life affirming change that is not driven by the psychological narrative that you “have to”, or “must” change.
One of my favorite quotes about contentment and Yoga is from Dr. Douglas Brooks:
“If you’re not willing to have a pebble in your shoe, this Yoga might not be for you.”
Meditation – Let’s face it, looking at ourselves with ruthless honesty can be very uncomfortable. In order to get any kind of clear view I need to be able to be with what is observed – even the nasty bits – without falling into a chasm of blame, trying to change what is observed, or denying the truth of it, all while staying relaxed. This can feel like being a clam with a grain of sand stuck my shell. The good news is that after some time of working delightfully through discontent, the ‘clam’ of the mind/body can produce the beautiful pearl of unreasonable joy.
Community – People often say that you can’t pick your family. Well, I’m here to tell you, you may not be able to pick your Yoga family either. Sure you can do your best to surround yourself with those who will uphold and support all the wonderful things you already think about yourself and life… and, there is bound to be someone in your group who has joined without checking in with you first to make sure they meet with your approval. Someone who will rub you the wrong way and push many to all of your buttons. Working in groups or community can feel like being a rock in a tumbler. More good news… When rocks are left in the tumbler long enough without disturbing the process, what started out rough and edgy can come out beautifully polished and lustrous.
When there is no discontent, there is little to no impetus for change. Yoga does not generally seek to add irritants to life in order to bring about the impetus for change. Yoga asks us to look at the things we think irritate us already without covering them up with a story or becoming unfeeling toward them. Without pointing a finger as if by some sleight of hand we could find the source of our pain outside ourselves. Yoga asks us to be ‘delightfully discontent’ and be unwilling to blame others as if they were the cause of our suffering. In this, a beautiful thing occurs; through the muck and dross of ordinary life – for no reason at all – ease, joy, and happiness have a chance to happen.
By Brent Kuecker: Yogi. Musician. Educator.
Join me at Udaya Live, Yoga and Music Festival this Summer in Bulgaria. The Udaya Family brings you a world class Yoga, Music, and conscious Living festival experience! Delightful farm fresh food, mountain-top meditation, and the landscape of the Rila Mountains are sure to inspire contentment in mind and body.