Many thanks to my friend Sally for sharing this story!
My journey into yoga began this past winter when a friend and his wife invited me to attend a yoga class focusing on grief and yoga. I was experiencing grief over the death of my mother and had always wanted to try yoga, so I gathered up my courage to go somewhere new and do something new. (I do NOT like going to new places and have a hard time starting new things.) But I went on a cold Saturday afternoon in February. The space was beautiful; the warmth and openness and vulnerability were also beautiful. And thus began my path into yoga.
I’m still such a beginner, but I try and it takes my mind off from everything except the struggle of hanging in a downward dog pose or a pigeon pose or a warrior pose. I’m most grateful for the child pose where I could be all day. But, the benefits physically and emotionally are worth it all.
One Saturday, our instructor asked us to find a mantra for ourselves as we began the class. She prompted us to try “I am ……… “ and then whatever we were feeling. It was strange, but the word that came to me was “content”. So I said the mantra “I am content” and wondered what kind of crazy business I was thinking when I was really far from content. My heart was still breaking over the loss of my mom; my work days were still stressful; the time I was spending with my children and grandchildren and dad was overwhelming. Yet, the word that came was “content”. As long as I could allow myself to not be anything more, I was content.
I shared this strange word with a friend who reminded me of the wisdom of the ending of the Serenity Prayer, which we had studied together.
Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it,
Trusting that you will make all things right, if I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life, And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
These words showed me that “content” was really an okay word to describe how I was feeling.
I recently began reading the book Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. One of the main character’s name is “Katie Kontent.” At one point in the book, she shares that the pronunciation is Kon-Tent’, not Kon’-Tent. I had to chuckle as I wondered what the odds were that I would be reading a book whose character had a name the same as the word I had so recently chosen to cling to.
And then it hit me. I am con-tent’, but I am not con’-tent. I am not what fills my life, even if it’s good. And I am not what is in my being, especially if it’s not good. I am not what people think of me or who I do or don’t impress. I am not con’tent, I am con-tent’. I am trying to be peaceful and walk life quietly and faithfully and to take care of myself and those God has in my life at this moment. I’m not sure people understand me anymore as I’m really not the same person I used to be – before I learned about becoming an Apprentice of Jesus; before I became a grandma; before I lost my mom. But that is okay, for that is con’tent. My soul is content’.
When I go to yoga and we breathe (while twisted into pretzels and dogs and cobras), I can breathe and say “I am content.” For that is what I am.