Take a moment to consider something that makes you smile or maybe even laugh.
Let this thought move from a mere recollection to the feeling it brings into your body, your soul. Sit with this joy for a bit.
Okay, now take a moment to consider something that you have grieved over. Let that move from recollection to feeling. Sit with this feeling of grief for a moment.
Very different feelings, right? And they should be. Joy radiates from the heart; grief sits in the lungs. Grief can make it so we literally feel like we can't breathe.
Given the choice, we'd probably choose joy and avoid grief. Fortunately, our body loves us so much that it does not give us the choice. (There is a reason for the phrase grief overcomes us.)
Grief is an emotion just as healthy as joy. The emotion of grief is our body's way of slowing us down to give us space to recover, to heal, to grow, to see joy in a different light. Probably in a more mature light. Certainly in a more knowing light.
As the title suggests, contentment connects joy and grief. How does contentment connect? And what exactly is it, contentment?
Like joy and grief, contentment also has its own feeling, or perhaps it is a state of mind that balances our feelings. It settles in our body somewhere between our feelings of joy and our feelings of grief. It balances them so that we don't live for joy alone, nor do we avoid grief assiduously. Both joy and grief are necessary and both have their own lifespan as they promote our health. This next is important! The lifespans of joy and of grief are different for each one of us and for each incident. No one outside of our body should tell us how long they should be. Trust the emotion and respect its lifespan.
Contentment, in its simplest form, is letting go of those things we cannot control and accepting the limitations of those things which we believe we do control. In yogic vernacular this would be a call to practice non attachment.
Said another way, he is no fool who lets go of what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.
Contentment comes from trusting that our reactions are based on our current wisdom and most grounded volition. This allows us to give thoughtful responses regardless of the outcome and invites, in us, a willingness to gain a more complete acceptance, not to all things, but in all things. In this way, not only is the moment preserved, additionally, each new encounter becomes stepping stones to our growth.
Contentment is the continuum both joy and grief rest upon. If our contentment is nurtured as defined above, it will be enough to support our highs and lows; our joy and our grief. If it is not nurtured, deeper joy can devolve into surface happiness. And grief without an underlying contentment will not only overcome us, it may well overtake us and grow into despair.
I invite each one of us to live our lives with a deep, down to the core, contentment so whether we are visited by joy or grief we have a healthy place for them to reside.
I invite you again to take a moment to consider something that makes you smile or maybe even laugh. Let this thought move from a mere recollection to the feeling it brings into your body, your soul. Sit with this joy.
Next, take a moment to consider something that you have grieved over. Let that move from recollection to feeling. Sit with this grief.
Finally, let your body rest in the contentment of now.