There is a concept in yoga that I have struggled with for years. Santosa, or contentment, simultaneously makes perfect sense and yet completely baffles me at the same time.

On the one hand contentment seems completely called for. To me it translates into not being greedy, to feeling satisfied with the amount of money, power, and esteem we have in life. It makes sense because resources are limited. The opposite of contentment brings to mind Ebenezer Scrooge, from Dickens’ novel “A Christmas Carol.” The fellow who acquired more and more wealth and essentially sat on it while those around him suffered in poverty. Clearly greed is a bad thing. One only has to look at how the desire to acquire more leads to misery for yourself and for others (ahem Bernie Madoff. May you see the error of your ways and may others learn to forgive you).

At the same time, contentment in the broader sense, such as being satisfied with what’s before you, being satisfied with your lot in life, completely confounds me. I just don’t get it. I obviously beat the drum for change repeatedly. So where does contentment fit into that? How do I reconcile contentment with my constant impulse/desire to improve not only myself but the world around me? How can I feel content with homelessness and yet at the same time work to eradicate it?

I think maybe it has something to do with knowing our limits, knowing how much we, on an individual basis, can accomplish. Yes, I can give the homeless man on the corner a granola bar and no, I am not in a position to build him a house. And while I constantly want to do more, give more, be more, contentment lies in recognizing I can only do so much. Me, in this body, in the position I am currently in, at this moment, can do no more than smile at the homeless man and offer him food.

(As a group however, it’s a different story. United as one is a different matter, which I’ve already written about.)

I think the other piece to contentment is living in the moment and feeling satisfied with the present. This is the hardest part for me. Truly. When I stay present and in the moment I love it, but it’s not my natural inclination. Rather my thoughts are something like this:

“Ugh. Why is it so hot outside? Why can’t it be cooler? This weather is horrible. I wish it was spring. I can’t believe I have to wait so long for spring to come again.”

I find it hard to enjoy what is, to not future trip, and I often wish things were different than they are. I guess I’m saying I think contentment lies in reveling in what is. Enjoying the moment, enjoying the heat, enjoying waiting for the bus, enjoying the situation you are currently in because you’re in it and it’s your life and it’s all you have. Sooo much of my mental energy gets expended on thinking about the future. Worrying, lamenting rather than enjoying what’s before me.

I’ve gotten much better since moving to California, (when you don’t know where you’re living two weeks in advance you learn to live in the moment) but it’s a daily process.

So I don’t know, I guess I reconcile santosa and service just by letting them coexist. Just by trying to feel content and grateful for what I have, content with what I, as an individual can do, and also working to change things little by little.

I dream of a world where everyone feels content and grateful for their lives. Where we work to improve ourselves and the lives of those around us but in a balanced way. I dream of a world where gratitude reigns and where we all truly live our lives because we stick with the moment. Because we savor what is before us. Because we are truly present. I dream of a world where everyone everywhere feels content, feels satisfied, feels joy. I dream of a world where daily we work to fulfill our mission on this Earth and also feel satisfied with what we’ve accomplished. Where we love what we’ve done thus far and also love what we will do in the future. I dream of a world where everyone everywhere wakes up feeling lovely because, oh right, this is life I’m experiencing and life is grand.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.


For the past few weeks especially I’ve been going through some serious mental anguish. The reason for my strife is I’ve been at war with myself. I’ve been divided between my head and my heart. My mind and my intuition have been at odds and in that state I experience the worst kind of hell.

Instead of going internally for answers I’ve been seeking outside help. “What do you think I should do? What do you think I should do? And you?” I’ve been asking friends and family for advice, caught up in this manic state of hopping from one person to another. And that? That does me no good.

The reason I’ve refused to look internally for answers, to talk to my intuition, is I’ve been afraid of what it would say. When I want something so badly I’m scared of hearing it won’t come to fruition. But I’ve found it’s still better to listen even when I don’t want to because otherwise life becomes unbearable.

I bring this up because it’s scary to listen to your intuition when it flies in the face of logic. It’s scary to go against the grain, especially when every person in your life opposes your decision. I think it’s important to distinguish here between whim and intuition. I get a passing fancy every now and again to jump on a plane and fly to New Zealand. That my friends is escapism, not intuition. However, if every cell of my body screamed for me to go to New Zealand, if it was couched in more than just ego-centered desire, it’s intuition.

I want to follow my intuition every step of the way. I want to feel steadfast even when I’m alone in my decision. I love my friends and family but how can they know what’s best for me? We barely know what’s best for ourselves. I want to stop getting distracted by the colorful pinwheel folds of my mind and instead focus on the gold-colored fastener in the middle where my intuition resides. I want to go deeply within and align my desires to my intuition. I wish to be me and know me and stay true to my core. I wish to be with my core always. I want to listen to my intuition always even when I’m scared of the answer. I wish to follow it because I know life is better when I do so.

I envision a world where we go internally for answers. A world where we listen to ourselves and our inner divinity. A world where we know ourselves and trust ourselves above all others. Where we do not become clouded by doubts and logic but rather move ahead at full steam because we want what’s in our best interest. I dream of a world where we know our core and listen to our core. Where we do not get distracted by what others say to us and instead do the “illogical” things anyway if that is where we’re being guided. I envision a world where we know true happiness and true peace because we follow our instincts.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

I am the type of person who wants to do things BIG. I want to make a big splash, a big difference, a big impact, etc. A few years ago I went to Jamaica because I wanted to do big-time service but when I was there I learned service is the little things too.

I’m starting to believe I can find meaning and purpose in the small things as well.

Last week I would have told you to make difference, to really change the world, requires a best-selling book or a cure for cancer, something like that. Then I started thinking about it. I started burrowing down into the root cause of “making a difference.” Why do I want to write a book? Why is finding a cure for cancer such a big deal? Then it hit me: duh, it’s because it affects other people! I started to realize the change, the growth, the impact comes from the interaction with people. Finding a cure for cancer is only meaningful if people know about it, if the antidote becomes widespread. Writing a book is only helpful if people actually read it and it touches them, changes their way of thinking.

As I pondered this I realized my everyday life has meaning and value because I interact with others all the time. I realized the purpose behind my life comes into play with my daily actions. Saying please and thank you. Smiling. Acknowledging the homeless woman on the corner. They may seem like tiny, tiny things but I’m reminded of a quote by Maya Angelou. She said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Asking the bank teller how her day is going may not be earth-shattering but she will certainly remember if I’m snarly and impatient.

We all touch people everyday with the way we talk to them, with the feeling we put behind our words. When it comes down to it, the meaning and the purpose in life is how we affect those around us. I for one want to be the type of person who inspires, who uplifts. I want to touch people and let them know love exists, hope exists, God exists. I want others to see another life is possible, another world is possible. Life can be great and grand and fulfilling. Appearing on Oprah would be great but my creator gives me the opportunity to make a difference all the time. Everyday counts. Every minute counts. Every interaction counts. Here. Now.

These are not my permanent thoughts but I would like them to be. I pray for the awareness to become deepened. I want to wake up every morning with joy for life, joy for what I’m doing because I recognize my very existence is meaningful. I want to see the value and meaning and purpose in my life even though I’m not yet a published author. I want to feel like my life has purpose even though on the surface all it consists of is waking up and going to work everyday. I want to truly believe by spreading love and light everyday there is meaning in my life.

I have the same wish for others.

I envision a world where everyone everywhere sees the higher purpose in their seemingly mundane lives. I dream of a world where we understand how we interact with others is where the difference, the change, the meaning comes from. Where we realize it may not seem like much but smiling at the hot dog vendor has merit. I dream of a world where we pursue our big dreams of becoming doctors, lawyers, legislators, writers and yet still have sweet and smiling behavior on the day to day level. I dream of a world where every morning we all wake up with joy, joy for life, joy for what we’re doing. Where we find meaning and purpose and fulfillment in the everyday.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Hope

“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.” – Emily Dickinson

This has been a rough week for me. A bunch of my friends and coworkers were laid off last Friday. The feelings I have for someone do not seem to be reciprocated. I’ve spent much of this week crying and feeling completely downtrodden.

My mother pointed out to me the difference between this week and last week is I had hope. Hope for my life. Hope for the future.

When we said our goodbyes on the telephone on Wednesday I sat down on my bed and cradled my royal blue, spiral-bound notebook. I wrote in my journal that I wanted hope. I wanted hope to come back. I wanted hope to reside in me once again.

I’ve written before about how when we want something all we have to do is ask. And I firmly believe it’s true. So I asked.

I asked for hope and hope returned. Like a sunbeam into my heart, hope flooded me once more.

The reason I mention this is because I think with hope we can weather any storm. I think with hope we can get through anything. If we believe our current situation is temporary, if we believe change can happen, does happen, will happen, our spirits are lifted and we can soldier on.

I write this with the dream of inspiring others. Of letting others know even at their darkest moments, even when life seems horrible and they cannot imagine a worse pain, hope is there. Hope is the bird singing through the gale. Hope can see you through anything. Hope can act like a lighthouse safely guiding you back to shore. Hope can buoy your spirits and urge you forward, help you swim toward land.

For those poor souls who feel hopeless, for those poor souls who are sitting in darkened rooms, I beg you to pray for hope. I beg you to ask for hope, to wipe the dirt from the windows of your heart and stand up straight. Your creator put you on this Earth for big things, for important things, for great things. Your creator put you on this Earth to fulfill a purpose, to fulfill a mission, whatever that may be. Hope is one of your keys to success.

I envision a world where we jump up after we’ve been knocked down. A world where hope stays with us. A world where we know we can get through anything and everything. A world where we see the light, we follow the light, we become the light. I envision a world filled with optimism about the days to come. A world where we have hope we can accomplish anything. A world where obstacles do not deter us but rather strengthen our resolve to meet our goals. I dream of a world where hope is everlasting. I dream of a world where everyone has hope in their hearts.

I know another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

A New Economy

This morning I had a nightmare the magazine I work for folded. I dreamt I was out of a job and couldn’t pay my rent because I have pretty much zero savings. I woke up with my heart pounding feeling scared and dissatisfied. Dissatisfied not for my own sake but for the way the world currently runs. Dissatisfied with the unemployment and homelessness and greed ravaging the world. Dissatisfied with our entire economic system. Not just the current recession but the system in general.

I know I’ve written about this before but I’m tired of this ‘fend for yourself,’ and ‘rise and fall on your own,” business. Why should my well-being rest squarely on my shoulders alone? Why should anyone go hungry? Why should anyone live on the streets? Why should anyone scrape by? Why can’t we as humans reach out to one another and support each other? Why can’t we know the true meaning of community?

As humans each and everyone one of us has a right to life, to have our basic needs met. Every person should be guaranteed food, clothing, shelter, education and medical care.

This current economic system? It’s not working. If it did we wouldn’t be facing the problems we are now.

I am not suggesting we pick up communism because clearly that doesn’t work so well either. The best economic theory I’ve come across thus far is PROUT – the Progressive Utilization Theory. Prout says the basic necessities of life should be guaranteed for everyone. It values local businesses and local cultures. It says there should be three tiers of business: 1.) cooperatives 2.) private enterprise 3.) government-owned industries. It recognizes resources are limited and should be treated as such.

I want to live in a world where I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt my needs will be met. I want to operate on more than just hope and faith, although I obviously think those are important too. I want to live in a world where there is zero unemployment. But also a world where people who truly cannot work are also taken care of. I want to live in a world where workers are not exploited, where people are not commodities. I want to live in a world where there is a living wage. Where ownership falls into the hands of the people who run the business, not a select few at the top. I want to live in a world where resources are more evenly spread. Where I can pursue the arts, express my creativity and really enjoy my life because I’m not working tirelessly to survive. I want to live in a world where “homelessness” fades from our lexicon because it is eradicated. Where people scratch their heads in confusion when they hear the word “poverty.” I want to live in a world where everyone, everywhere is valued. And not just humans, but all of god’s creatures. I want to live in a world where we nurture the environment, where we protect and honor all life because we see the value in everything.

That world can exist, will exist, does exist. You, I, we can make it happen.

I know not only is another world possible, it’s probable.

Keeping the faith is hard work.

When things don’t work out the way I want them to I start railing against the Universe: “Why are you putting me through this?? I hate you for doing this to me! Why can’t it happen the way I want?!?” etc. I get angry and pissed off and feel like screaming. Basically I turn into a petulant child.

It’s funny though because I’m getting upset things aren’t working out the way I want them to. Little ole me really thinks I know what’s best for my life as opposed to the force responsible for life and death? As opposed to the force that causes the world to spin? As opposed to the force that causes flowers to bloom and the sun to shine? Really? Really?

I think of something a friend said to me recently. She said every moment of anger/sadness/frustration is a love poem from our creator and it’s up to us to decipher it. I see how my frustration boils down to a lack of patience. How I want things to happen NOW, this instant. But some things cannot happen now. Some things take time. I see how my creator is trying to cultivate patience in me and unshakable faith.

And if I really think about it I’ve been shown time and again what’s best for me happens. I’ve been shown time and again my wildest dreams are ant-sized compared to what my creator has in store for me. But I’m human so keeping the faith is hard. I have a tendency to doubt.

For now I keep dusting myself off when I stumble on my path toward steadfast faith. For now I keep picking myself up and I keep going forward because I know where I want to be. And this? This is not it.

I want to be in a place where my faith does not waver. I want to be in a place of constant trust and surrender. I want to be in a place where I have no doubt my creator is taking care of me. Where frustration does not exist because rather I savor what’s in front of me. Where I understand things take time and I may have to wait a little bit. Where I am ok with the questions and the ambiguity because I have hope and faith things will be turn out and they will be glorious. Where I trust even the crappy hard things are in my best interest.

And I have that wish for others.

I dream of a world where we all turn our frustration into something positive. A world where we have patience. A world where we understand everything is in our best interest. I dream of a world where trust and faith reign supreme. Where we all truly believe the universe is taking care of us. Where we open ourselves up and surrender to the divine will. Where we allow ourselves to be carried like sailboats on the water because we know there is a force greater than ourselves guiding the way.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Openness. To live a big, grand and exciting life I think requires openness. Being open to change, being open to positive messages from the universe, being open to all possibilities. How can we live the full life we are meant to if we are grasping onto ideas of the way things “should” be? If we are holding onto preconceived notions of how things “should” work, “should” turn out, “should” function?

When I reflect on my life, when I reflect on the adventures I have already experienced, I realize it’s because I approach life with an open heart (most of the time). It’s because I don’t close myself off to all possibilities. I ask for something and I’m open to receiving it in whatever form that takes.

The other day I asked Heather for a resource regarding communicating nonviolently in relationships. She told me to pray for it. Three days later I went to my coworker’s house and lying on the coffee table was exactly the kind of book I wanted to read! It felt as if the universe conspired to put that book there for me. So I could stumble across it. What a gift! What a treasure!

I say this not to brag or extol how much the universe loves me but rather illustrate this stuff happens all the time. And if it doesn’t, it can! Everyone can experience this kind of magic, this kind of grace. All it takes is an open heart and an open mind. Rising above our murky slumber to see the grace, see the serendipity in our lives. To see the guiding force and the love our Creator has for us all.

The way I see it, to live the life I wish to lead, to fulfill my dreams, it takes openness. Openness to being guided, openness to signs to messages to “coincidences.” Openness to what God has in store for us. When we turn our backs on the Universe there is only so much the Universe can do. Instead, when we open the windows to our hearts and minds anything can manifest. So much happens. It can and does and will.

I envision a world where we are all open to all possibilities. I envision a world where we communicate with divinity and allow divinity to communicate with us. I envision a world where we allow ourselves to be carried like dandelion seeds in the wind. Where our hearts and our minds are open. Where we all live big, grand, exciting lives and realize our utmost potential.

I know another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

While I appreciate the sentiment of “The World has Changed” I think it’s important for us to remember change happens all the time. We make all things new. You and I are changing this world at every moment. Yes it’s great and grand Barack Obama is now President of the United States but let us remember he is only one man.

The real power, the real change comes from us – from you and me when we unite together. When we join hands for a common cause. When we decide to work together that’s when the miracles happen. That’s where real change comes from.

I am not the President of the United States but that does not mean I am any less powerful or my worth is any less. The leader of the U.S. is merely that, the leader. He has no purpose, no function if there are no people to lead. Really the citizens of the world are far more powerful. Imagine what we could do if we tried! Imagine the change we could evoke if we united together as one! Think of the power we have in our hands!

So let us remember to temper all the talk of “a new era” with the understanding we change things all the time. Change happens at every moment. We usher in a “new era” with every breath we take. You and I as we unite are a force more powerful, more effective and more magnificent than any one person can ever be alone.

True power lies in our unity. True change comes from us. You and I are the agents of change, working for a new world. We. Us together.

I envision a world where the moralists clasp hands with one another and cooperate in the spirit of change. I envision a world where social activists link up with each other and realize they don’t need to start another nonprofit to elicit the change they wish to see. Where people recognize there are many willing participants who wish to work together as one. I envision a world where all the splinter groups bundle together as one. Where each and every person recognizes their own worth, their own power, regardless of their role in society. I envision a world where each and every person sees themselves for the powerful being they really are. Because you and I are more powerful, more magnificent and more brilliant than we can even imagine.

I’m sure many of you have read this quote numerous times before but it seems appropriate for this post:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson, A Return To Love

So let us shine. Let us share our radiance with others. Let us take the candle flame glowing within each of us and join together to outshine the sun. We can do anything if we do it together.

Not only is another world possible, it’s probable.

This week someone I really loved and cared about died. What it really highlights for me is nothing is permanent, nothing is stable.

At this moment I feel extremely unsettled, like God reached down and shook up my snow globe, which is perhaps a good thing.

Recognizing nothing is permanent, nothing is secure, really forces me to be present, to be in the moment. I realize every person in my life, every object, every situation is a gift. It’s something to be cherished for the short time it’s around. People will not be in my life forever, which is all the more reason to enjoy them while they are. Recognizing the impermanence of everything shows me I cannot take anything for granted. Who knows how long it will be around?

All I can do right now is be grateful for this moment, for this experience, for this life.

The only thing I think is truly permanent, truly stable and truly infinite is God. God’s love is all-pervading. God’s love is stable and permanent and always around. And these things surrouding me? These people? This computer I’m typing on? It’s a manifestation of God and God’s love. I, you, we are showered with God’s love all the time. Death reminds me to be grateful for it, to enjoy it, to revel in it.

I envision a world where no one takes one another for granted. I envision a world where we are all more present, where we recognize our lives for what they are: a gift. I envision a world where we enjoy each and every moment. Where we recognize God’s love surrounds us always. Where we can feel the ocean of bliss surrounding us and not fall for the trap we need any thing or person in our life to feel stable because it’s not true. There is permanence and stability only in the moment. There is only God and manifestations of God. There is only love in its various forms. There are only gifts from on high that make life a little more enjoyable. I envision a world where we are joyous and happy and free. I envision a world where people fully embrace and experience each and every moment because this moment is all we truly have.

Not only is another world possible, it’s probable.

I know I already wrote a post about this but since it’s coming up for me again I decided to revisit it.

Lately I’m finding it hard to trust in God/the Universe/My Creator. Lately I find it hard to trust in an amorphous thing I can’t put my finger on. I find it hard to trust because as I mentioned in my previous entry, there are certain things I want so badly I’m worried if I let go, if I open my fist, if I give up the illusion of control, somehow they won’t come true. Somehow my dreams will be lost in the ether never to be realized.

I worry by trusting in a power greater than myself, by giving up my “control” I won’t get what I want.

And yet that’s not the case.

Last night I went to a Catholic Mass with some friends. The priest? pastor? said many things but one of his lines was to trust in God. To trust in God’s plan for us.

As I reflect on my life I see how it has all worked out in my best interest. God has my back, if you will. And not just my back but everyone’s back. I’m not alone in this or special or something. I bet if each and every one of us really examined our lives we would see how even our worst hell taught us something. How we needed to go through hell so X could happen.

I see how even when I wanted something so desperately, like to go to Northwestern University, it’s actually better I didn’t. I see how God knows what’s best for me even before I do. I see how God also has my best interest in mind. I see how I’m guided and pushed and pulled in a certain direction and even though I often feel like there’s a blindfold over my eyes, I never trip over tree stumps. I never end up with a bloody nose. Why? Because God loves me. And you. And everyone.

I also keep circling around something the famous Heather said: “Your dreams are ant-sized compared to what your creator has in store for you.”

So far she’s been right. I never in a million years would have told you this would be my life. I never would have guessed I would live in California or travel so much or experience the things I have. If I had it my way I would have lived in Maryland with two cats and a white picket fence by now. I see how God’s plan for me is so much sweeter, so my grander and so much greater than my own.

Even though I’m having trouble trusting as of late, I also see how I have no reason to doubt God. I have never been led astray.

I envision a world where I and others like me can trust in the Universe. Where we let go our need to control and instead let God lead our little life raft. I envision a world where we trust what happens to us is for our own good and stop trying to micromanage our lives. I envision a world where we try to align our will with God’s will and realize our utmost potential. I envision a world where all people strive for their dreams and never settle because it’s a “safe bet.” I envision a world where we not only trust but we know we’ll be taken care of no matter what. Where we open our arms and lift our hands up to the sky and proclaim, “You know what’s best for me. I trust in you.” Where we realize God’s plan for us is better than our own.

I know not only is another world possible, it’s probable.

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