Friday, January 13, 2012
The bread delivery truck was arriving just as I left the grocery store yesterday. It sped through the parking lot at what I thought was a rather alarming rate. Though I was at safe distance, I was concerned for some of the other shoppers. There was one elderly couple in particular that I felt had a rather narrow escape.
Once I recovered from the mild outrage I felt at the irresponsibility of the truck driver, my mind started to wander down less emotionally-charged paths. I wondered, if you are flattened by the bread delivery truck, is it a case of vehicular manslaughter, or are you suffering from extreme gluten-intolerance? Leave it to me to find dark humour in what could have been a serious situation.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Last Thursday I attended my first yoga class of the New Year. At the beginning of class our teacher talked briefly about intentions and resolutions. I’m not much for resolutions. I find them stressful. I tend to be too hard on myself as it is. Resolutions just give that irritating inner voice something else to nag me about.
I was relieved when our instructor explained that, in spite of the New Year, we were going to skip the traditional setting of goals. Instead she asked us to invite a mood or a feeling to our practice. The word she used to describe this act was Sankalpa.
Content leapt immediately to mind. I would like to be more content. Funnily enough, as soon I as thought it, I felt it. It’s like contentment was there all along just waiting for me to ask it in. Of course, as soon as our teacher started giving examples of other feelings we could work with, I doubted my choice. Maybe peace would be a more worthy guest. Or perhaps patience. Too late. Contentment had entered, poured itself a drink, kicked off its shoes and put up its feet. Peace and Patience would have to stop by another time.
The feeling of contentment continued through the class, though there were a few thigh-quiveringly tough moments that sent it edging toward the door. In those instances all I had to do was gently re-invite the feeling and it was back. Who knew it could be so easy?
Though it was surprisingly effortless to experience contentment in class, I wasn’t sure that I would have the same results off the mat. The idea that inviting a mood could result in experiencing the mood was intriguing. I decided to experiment with Sankalpa (or my version of it) in the real world. I was stunned to find how often it worked. In the past week contentment has agreed to join me at the strangest times. It’s been there while grocery shopping, brushing my teeth, standing in line, walking, washing dishes and writing. In most cases when I’ve invited content it’s been there. There have been a few times when it’s refused to join me, or worse yet, where it’s been replaced by its evil twin, discontent. Those instances were, thankfully, rare.
If I have any resolutions for 2012 I imagine they will involve working with contentment. I can explore what brings it. I can work to create inner and outer environments that welcome it. I can try to figure out what the heck I mean by contentment anyway. Far more satisfying than striving to be skinny, friendly and sober. If working with contentment doesn’t bring contentment, I can always invite a different mood. It should be an interesting year.
For a much more thorough discussion of Sankalpa check out this article. I found the following quote to be most similar to my current understanding of the concept.
“In Sanskrit, the word for intention is Sankalpa, and it’s a representation of a desire or positive thought that you want to manifest in the world, a promise you make to yourself.”