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As I listen to Christmas music playing all around, I smile and sing along with the tidings of comfort and joy. ‘Tis the Season!

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From a yoga perspective, feeling comfort and joy is not just at this time of year, or connected to a particular event, it is something that we can cultivate within ourselves. I call it Finding Your Middle Ground. This is available to all of us, when we take time to pause and pay attention to our inner world with curiosity and kindness.

Most of us grow up expecting the world to meet our needs. As children we look to our caregivers and others to feel fulfilled. We are rewarded with gifts that make us feel “happy”. As adults, we look for the perfect spouse to complete us, the ideal career to gratify us, the best car to be admired, the biggest house to feel successful in, the perfect vacation to experience … and on and on.

When we still realize we are not complete and happy, we begin the “if only’ part of our lives. If only things were different … my spouse, my job, my house, my family, my body, my family … and on and on.

We regret where we are and what has happened in the past, and plan for external changes in the future. The grass is always greener on the other side.

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We go along clinging to our preferences and opinions based on our personal experiences and hand me down beliefs. We try to control the world around us, in order to get our needs and wants met.

How exhausting and time consuming this all is! No wonder life can be so stressful when we’re always trying to get somewhere else or hold on to what we think makes us happy.

As long as we look outward for fulfillment we will never be content. We spend our lives moving towards what we like and the things we believe will make us feel good, and moving away from the things we dislike or make us feel uncomfortable.

Santosha is the sanskrit word for contentment. This happens when we are able to find comfort and joy within ourselves…. no matter what is happening in our external circumstances.

In yoga philosophy, everything is neutral. It is our thinking that creates “good” and “bad”. Our early experiences create our preferences, opinions and beliefs about what is good (pleasurable) and what is bad (painful). As adults we believe that our thinking is the truth, and it’s how everything should be.

What if we were to embrace a reality where everything is neutral? Nature is neutral. The weather is neutral. The food we eat is neutral. Our relationships are neutral. Other people are neutral … even the ones who look different, act in a way that we don’t like or hold different beliefs. How freeing this can be!

What we think, is not the truth. They are just thoughts that come and go. Yet our ego holds on to them to keep us safe and right in the world.

What would our world be like without our opinions and judgments?

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I began to look inwards around twenty years ago. Yoga and coaching are powerful tools for self understanding and transformation.

It has been quite the journey, and it’s still evolving. It’s only recently that I have come to realize how free I can be from my thinking. I remind myself that most thoughts arise from the ego-mind, and our need to survive and prevail.

I also realize that even the disturbing ones don’t last for long unless I dwell on them, and create a mood that holds on to my sense of hurt or fear. With awareness and practice we can change our thinking and find a new freedom. The ego gives up all that hard work!

Most of us would appreciate a shortcut to this new way of understanding and being in life, and most spiritual teachers will tell you it takes years of commitment and practice. Each tradition has its own roadmap to find comfort and joy.

The essence of it all, however, is simple to understand intellectually but harder to achieve in our every day lives. Change is never comfortable, and transformation is often a series of highs and lows throughout life. Life is also cyclical, and of course, the ego is alway there to defend and fight off anything that threatens our (and its) existence.

So, what is the essence here? Here are some quotes filled with wisdom:

Marcus Aurelius – “Look within. If you dig deep enough, the spring of peace and contentment will bubble up.”

Ekhart Tolle – “We should purify our innate well of contentment – what a wonderful expression – and then external things will be in harmony with us.”

Lao Tzu – “Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.
” 

Dalai Lama – “I believe all suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their happiness or satisfaction. Yet true happiness comes from a sense of inner peace and contentment, which in turn must be achieved through the cultivation of altruism, of love and compassion and elimination of ignorance, selfishness and greed.”

Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz –  “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with!”

Swami Rama – “Contentment is falling in love with life.

Accepting and loving ourselves just the way we are, goes hand in hand with loving life just the way it is. Its the best gift we can give ourselves any time of the year.

May the coming days (and years) be filled with comfort and joy.

Namaste

29 comments on “Tidings of Comfort and Joy

  1. You are right, Val. Contentment is the best feeling

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautifully said Val.
    Everything is and always has been inside of us.
    We just need to Pause, and breathe, and love and appreciate ourselves.

    And when we do, we are complete and whole, and we stop searching externally for “Things” to make us feel good.

    Wishing you a very HAPPY CHRISTMAS Val . And may 2023 continue to bring tidings of great comfort and JOY…
    🎄☃️🎄✨️🥰💕

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So much wisdom here, Val. You are definitely further along in your journey than I am,but the work continues. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautifully spoken Val, and well shared dear lady. Enjoy what you have found, it does indeed come from that inner discovery of self. Merry Christmas 😀❤️🙏🏽🦋🎅🏽🦌🕊🎄🎁⛄️.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. peace and contentment to you and yours, val

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sharon Lawrence

    So well said!  Funny thing is th

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Beautiful and very well written. I smiled at the ease of understanding conceptually but difficulty in executing. It takes years to get there and persistence to stay. Happy holidays.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This was wonderful, Val. Your words hit home for me, and I really appreciate them. Sending happy holiday wishes and thanks to you, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wonderful post, Val, thanks so much. Have a lovely Christmas. 🕊

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Joys of The Season to you! ! 🌟

    Liked by 1 person

  11. So beautiful, honest and deeply resonant, Val. I love the choice of quotes. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas. 🙏🏻💜

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I really enjoyed the post, especially the quotes you mentioned.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I really love this, Val. Such a wonderful way for all of us to start a new year. Thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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