The Challenge of Contentment

I took a yoga class this past spring semester and gave myself a challenge: be content during each and every class.

I’ve never really had a problem with comparing myself with other, more experienced yogis; but I did used to severely compare myself with my ‘performance’ from the previous classes. My inner monologue sounded like “What’s wrong with you? You were much deeper into this pose the last time! You’re getting weaker. You’re not doing it right. You’re not pushing yourself enough.”

Those aren’t exactly helpful or productive thoughts to have; which is why I was very intentional about my practice during the semester. I needed to find the balance between pushing myself and understanding what my body could take for that day. It took a lot of mind power, and sweet conversations with myself, but I got there eventually. I was elated when I was able to just assess how my body felt for the day, accept it, and move on from there. I was consistently content with myself, even during days that I couldn’t do as much as I previously could.

Unfortunately, due to what we’re calling an incredibly precise ‘freak’ accident that led to me dislocating my left knee, my challenge towards contentment for the next few months will look a little different.

I’ll need surgery and physical therapy to get my knee back up to fighting shape, which in my case is being able to bend and walk on the leg. The progress won’t be as aesthetically pleasing as working towards a handstand or crow pose; it’s literally getting my leg to do what it’s supposed to again and frustration will come easy because of that. But as early as now I want to put myself in the mindset of balance and contentment. That I’ll push myself to move and work the knee while still showing it patience.

One way that has helped me stay content is exploring hobbies. I’ve been meaning to start doing more crafts for years but would put it off for no particular reason, and I saw this injury as an opportunity to finally explore them.

Built a 3D model of the Hogwarts Express

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Picked up embroidery

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My first project – still a WIP

Even just picking up some flowers from the grocery store and putting together a little arrangement.

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Rather than feeling idle I’m able to tap into my creative side and work with my hands. It could have been very easy to feel downcast with my sudden decrease in mobility; instead, because of a decision to change my perspective, these projects are giving me excitement and a sense of fulfillment. They’re also things that I enjoy generally seeing, so just having them around me makes me feel lovely.

Many things can dampen our spirits and test our limits. When our limitations are challenged our contentment is challenged as well. But one thing to remember is that contentment starts with the acceptance of our current situation and to learning to enjoy new things while we challenge ourselves to get better.

Contentment is not the absence of disturbance but rather the decision to accept it and then adapt

-hanys

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