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The Hungry Ghost, Santosha & Lakshmi + Guided Meditation by LaurieG

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Laurie, gifted architect of wise medicinal words, sent off her week 10 Root & Bloom* email last night as she does at the beginning of each week, nourishing us with wisdom, truth and pause. She spoke of the Hungry Ghost, Santosha and Lakshmi and with the soup we are currently moving through, it especially struck me deeply.  So much so that I feel it must be shared with you...
Scroll down to read and access the guided meditation.

 

Email  :  Week 10, Root & Bloom, by Laurie G

 

"I hope this finds you well and happy.
I find it interesting that we should arrive on the ground of Santosha/Contentment in the wake of not only Thanksgiving but more so, Black Friday- which in many ways feels the antithesis thereof. 
Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a good deal and the savings these sales offer, particularly leading up to the holidays. However there is something about this consumption frenzy that never quite felt right to me. Whether it’s the outrageous footage of people trampling over and fighting each other to celebrate this season of brotherly love… or the complete disregard for the toll our overconsumption is taking on the Earth (did you see how that new report on climate change was released and buried by the sales of the day)... or the compulsory nature of giving which often translates in folks spending money they don’t have on things folks don’t need in order to make visible a love that may not find other more creative and ordinary ways of expressing itself... or perhaps the knowing that even at 40% off, companies continue to see a profit and that this profit disproportionately goes to those at the very top thereof (while someone folks are crowdfunding medicine and there are so many mamas out there wondering if she’ll be able to get food on the table and keep the lights on). 
But I digress. 
Waking to dozens of messages with sales and offers, I spied something I’d had my eyes on for a while.  I could feel myself getting hooked as I scroll the coveted webpage for a new (sustainable/antimicrobial beautiful) cork yoga mat- to replace my current travel mat (which has honestly seen better days but still functions). Within a few minutes of arriving at the site, suddenly it wasn’t just the mat in my virtual cart, but the matching carrying case, and then the bottle of pre-practice grip spray infused with oils of lavender and rose and the post practice detox cleaning spray… it wasn’t until then that I knew a guest had arrived.  The increased beating of my heart, the constricted shallow breath made her presence undeniable. The Hungry Ghost had arrived. Laptop closed and I returned to the mantra shared with me in kindness by Lama Marut, 
Om I Have Enough Hung.”  
When I was studying Buddhism the idea of the Hungry Ghost was shared with me in the form of a big bellied ghost with a mouth the size of a pin hole- with a hunger insatiable. It seems to me that increasingly we have become a society whose hunger for things, even experiences, has become so great and yet the more we consume (assuming we have the resources to do so), the emptier we feel. The remedy for this is coming home to ourselves... coming home to our bodies...coming home breath by breath. It is sitting. It is SANTOSHA.
>>>THIS WEEK’S THEME::: SANTOSHA 
This week our focus is on the revolutionary practice and art of Santosha- Contentment. Rolf Gates offered this, he said, “Contentment isn’t complacency, it is reverence.” It lives in the acknowledgement of and gratitude for what is arising in the moment- for the countless blessings, the gifts and even the challenges. It is unburdened of thoughts of the past or the future- it breathes its way into being in presence.  It is found in the depths. It feels like tranquility rooted in faith- the calm beneath the waves. And according to the Yoga Sutras, it is the source of supreme joy. Take a peek at the attached PDF for reflections on what it is and what it isn’t.
After all these years, I’m beginning to see that tranquility is the depth of being that holds what we think and feel, not the still point after we’ve silenced what we think and feel. Serenity is the depth of being that holds difficulty, not the resting point after we’ve ended difficulty. And peace is the depth of being that holds suffering and doubt, not the raft we climb on to avoid suffering and doubt. This leads us to joy, which is much deeper and larger than any one feeling.” 
-Mark Nepo
THIS WEEK’S PRACTICES
You will be able to access this week’s practices via the SoundCloud links below:::
>>>MEDITATION & MUDRAS
This week’s meditation makes use of two different mudras, please take a peek at the description in the attached for clarity as to meaning, purpose and form. As contentment shares a deep affinity with gratitude… you may also choose to revisit last week’s gratitude based meditation themed on the senses (https://soundcloud.com/laurieg-4/rbwk9medautumn/s-BC4dH).
>>>MANTRA
OM SHRIM HRIM KLIM MAHA LAKSHMI NAMAHA :::  Praise & Salutations to Lakshmi ::: Why is this week’s mantra offered to the Goddess Lakshmi and what do those sounds mean? Take a peek at the attached to find out and then get your mantra on.
>>>IN CLOSING, OPEN….
This morning, I was up near dawn. I made my way to the studio and couldn’t take my eyes of the sky. The bright grey morning being birthed into being in front of my eyes, cast resplendent hues of pink and orange across the horizon and began painting with light (illuminating whisps and puffs of clouds shifting and glowing) as far as the eye could see.  The air was damp with life and full of the chatter of birds and the humming of cars eager to make their way somewhere. There was beauty, astonishing, everywhere the kind a Hungry Ghost cannot see… it reminded me of this poem of Mark Nepo’s and the joy that resides in the space between hoof and sacred ground.
REDUCED TO JOY
I was sipping coffee on the way to work,
the back road under a canopy of maples
turning orange. In the dip of woods, a small
doe gently leaping. I pulled over, for there
was nowhere else to go. She paused as if
she knew I was watching. A few orange
leaves fell around her like blessings no
one can seem to find. I sipped some 
coffee, completely at peace, knowing 
it wouldn't last. But that's alright. 
 
We never know when we will blossom 
into what we’re supposed to be. It might 
be early. It might be late. It might be after 
thirty years of failing at a misguided way. 
Or the very first time we dare to shed 
our mental skin and touch the world. 
 
They say, if real enough, some see God
at the moment of their death. But isn't
every fall and letting go a death? Isn't God
waiting right now in the chill between the 
small doe's hoof and those fallen leaves? 
& this from Anne Herbert
THERE’S A REASON IT’S YOU
There’s a reason that it’s you there, in just this place.
There’s a reason the air around you touches your skin now, a reason that it’s that air and your skin.
You’re necessary and delightful.
Where your skin meets the air of this Earth, there is no break between you and the air. There is no break between you and every other thing there is. You are part of this moment–all of you, the air’s molecules, your molecules.
And there’s a reason you’re all here right now.
Dolphins don’t swim home; they swim in home. They are already there. As are we, as are you. You’re already here. You’re being right here was the blessing that was desired and is celebrated.
Breath out blessing, breath in blessing. 
It happens anyway, but even more if you join in.
There’s a reason it’s you here now.
Ok folks. I think I’ve given you quite enough to chomp on for now. 
May you draw nourishment and insights from this message, this week’s theme, these practices. May you ride the wave of the breath with gratitude into presence in the moment and awaken to the blessings there all the while (if somehow in disguise or entirely unseen)… know they’re happening anyway, 
but even more if you join in.
With an abundance of gratitude & of course love,
Laurie

NIYAMA II.   SANTOSHA::   संतोष   >>>  CONTENTMENT

… life’s challenges may disturb the surface of the sea,

but we don’t give them the power to affect the calm depths of our inner being.

- Joseph Le Page

 

Santosha ::: What It Is & What It Isn’t

 

Three translations of Chapter II V 42 of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras explain Santosha and it’s fruits as such::: “When at peace and content with oneself and others (Santosha), supreme joy is celebrated .” -Nischala Joy Devi ; “The result of contentment is totalhappiness.”-Desikachar “From contentment and benevolence of consciousness comes supreme happiness .”- BKS Iyengar

 

At the heart of SANTOSHA is a willingness to be with what is as it is, to dwell in the depths and be at peace.

 

Ok Let’s Pause Here Please… Deep Breath.

Before I write another word- let me just say here- this i s not about being complacent in the face of injustice, bigotry, greed and hatred. It i s not about drawing a little circle around yourself and being ok with things as long as you’re not directly affected by the situation (or even when you are). Santosha i s not a justification for remaining passive when compassionate action is necessary. N or is it to be used as an excuse to stay wound tight in the chains of habits and patterns that are causing you to suffer or preventing you from thriving. This i s not about stagnation.

 

Santosha is our capacity to connect in with an abiding sense of ease and calm. It is about finding a kind of happiness within that is isn’t dependent on external situations/factors being a certain way. All too often we are convinced we need something or someone out there to make us happy… or we are dependent on something coming to pass before we think we can be happy. The moment we attach our happiness to something out there- to things that are inevitably bound to change, we are bound to suffer. It is about our capacity to connect in with an inner reserve of ok-ness and a patience that runs deep.

When we are able to maintain a sense of equanimity and find acceptance of ourselves and whatever situation we find ourselves in- this is contentment. In the Ultimate sense, we are relaxing back into the fullness and knowing of our true nature. When we are so focused on craving what we don’t have, or what someone else has, we lose sight of all that we do have. We are not living with Santosha. With an economy that thrives based on products created to address our individual and collective sense of not-enoughness, dwelling in contentment and enough-ness is revolutionary.

 

“Enough. These few words are enough. If not these words, this breath. If not this breath, this sitting here. This opening to life we have refused again and again until now. Until now.”

-David Whyte

 

Presence & Gratitude as Doorways In

 

Contentment is falling in love with your life.

-Swami Rama

 

When we are wholeheartedly present in our lives, we are able to see the beauty that is right in front of us, in the ordinary details of our extraordinary lives. If you have the experience of working with a daily practice of gratitude you already know how it becomes a doorway from not enoughness to enough / discontent to contentment. Gratitude requires showing up and paying attention to all of the blessings, the beauty and lessons in our lives. Feeling and expressing gratitude are essential practices in living Santosha. When we are in gratitude we find joy. When we are in gratitude, a sense of lack loses its stranglehold on the flow of energy coursing through us and moving as us in the world. Gratitude reorients our focus from what isn’t to what is.

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance .”

-Eckhart Tolle

 

It isn't what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it .”

-Dale Carnegie

 

“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.”

-Lao Tzu

 

 

What We Allow to Get in the Way of Santosha

 

>>>THE 8 Worldly thoughts

 

In studying Tibetan Buddhism I was introduced to the concept of the 8 Worldly Thoughts. Perhaps in reviewing the list you’ll see how these serve as the core motivation for many choices we make and actions we take in our pursuit of happiness. We expend so much energy in pursuit or avoidance of these. It is said that we are all the same in that we want to be happy and we don’t want to suffer- the problem is that we have mistaken ideas about what can bring true and lasting happiness and in our pursuit of it, we cause great suffering for ourselves and each other. Take a look....

  I’m happy when I get what I want (possessions and the like).

I’m unhappy when I don’t

I’m happy when people like me.

I’m unhappy when they don’t.

I’m happy when I have a good reputation.

I’m unhappy when I don’t

I’m happy when what I don’t want stays away from me.

I’m unhappy when what I don’t want comes to me.

 

Lama Yeshe calls this the Yo Yo life, “ I get a present! I feel so happy!” “I lost that wonderful gift. I’m so unhappy.” Somebody says “You’re wonderful,” and we feel up; somebody says, “You made a mistake,” then our mood goes down .” Thubten Chodron, a Buddhist Nun expanded on this saying, “This constant yo-yo mind is dependent on external objects and people and leaves us oblivious to how our mind is the actual source of our happiness and misery…..Life becomes a battle with the environment and the people in it, as we try to be near everything we like and get far away from or destroy anything we dislike. This brings us so much grief and suffering because our mind is so reactive .”

Now this isn’t to say we should walk around without preferences for things being one way or the other. It’s ok to want things. It’s also essential to recognize that people aren’t always going to like us and that we won’t always have a good reputation. We will get sick. Things aren’t going to be easy. We are here in these bodies in the muck of the world and there will be challenges. And even when we get what we want and people do like us and all of the rest- until and unless we have found true peace within ourselves- and an abiding peace-none of that has the capacity to bring us happiness let alone a happiness that lasts.

 “Discontentment is the illusion that there can be something else in the moment. There isn’t and there can’t be. That means if I am bored or sad, I will only be discontented if I am not content to be bored and sad. Building contentment with boredom, sadness, impatience, depression, disappointment, and loss, builds our ability to be that tall tree so rooted in the earth that great winds cannot topple it. Being content with our discontentment is itself a gateway to the calm depths within.” -Deborah Adele

 

Indeed in the midst of discontent, it is frequently our perpetual war with our own expectations… or seeing what is as it is and accepting it as such... that causes us to suffer most. And in the midst of great challenges, gifts can be found.

 

>>>The Stone Cutter

 

There’s this great li’l tale shared in Benjamin Hoff’s THE TAO OF POOH. I’ll sum it up for you here. So there’s this guy and he’s a stone cutter and his work is hard and his days are long...and hot. And one day as he’s sweating, exhausted, chipping away and lamenting his life and this procession comes through and everyone is required to stop what they are doing and bow down to the wealthy merchant passing by. As he does so, he thinks to himself, “Wow. He’s so wealthy, respected and powerful. I wish I could be that guy- feared and respected, carried around in a sedan chair. ” And just like that he becomes him. And he’s being carried around and everyone’s bowing down, but the sun is beating down on him and it’s relentless, strong and out of his control. “I wish I could be the sun .” Boom. He becomes the sun and farmers are cursing him for scorching their fields and he’s literally on fire and feeling super powerful… until a storm cloud comes carried by the wind and blocks him. You get where this is going right? “How powerful the wind is. How I wish I could become the wind. ” And he does. And he’s blowing and bending everything in his path until he comes to something he can’t budge- this huge boulder- unmovable. Again he wishes. Again he transforms. Feeling strong, solid and unbreakable, until he feels himself being altered, chipped away. He looks down into his shadow and sees the unmistakable image of a stone cutter.

 

THIS WEEK’S PRACTICE

 

MEDITATION & MUDRA(S)

https://soundcloud.com/laurieg-4/rbwk10medautumn/s-CCAIH

This week’s meditation makes use of two mudras. The first which contributes to a sense of balance, calm, ease and contentment and the second to groundedness and wisdom.

 

The first is Chaturmkham Mudra or the Gesture of Four Faces. This is a hand position associated with Brahma- the Creator God- and is said to prepare he ground of the mind for meditation and help it rest in equanimity. To form this mudra bring the palms belly level facing each other. Join the fingertips of the left hand to the fingertips of the right hand. Thumbs extend towards the sky. The second is Gyan Mudra- which is formed by joining the thumb and index fingers (space & air). In this version we place the hands face down on the thighs.

 

Mantra

https://soundcloud.com/laurieg-4/rbwk10mantraautumn/s-V1b0w

 

Om Shrim Hrim Klim Maha Lakshmi Namaha :

Praise & Salutations to Lakshmi

OM is the primordial sound- uttering it is a way of attuning to the energy of the Infinite and opening/clearing the mind for meditation. SHRIM is a seed sound associated with lunar energy as well as Lakshmi-- it is related to abundance (in both the physical and spiritual planes) and feelings of love and devotion. It is said to draw to us all that serves our development. HRIM is a seed connected to the Divine Feminine and the Goddess- Her creative, sustaining and destructive powers. It is connected with the heart. KLIM is associated with the magnetic energy of desire that helps make our wishes manifest. It brings contentment and ease of mind. MAHA is great. LAKSHMI is a Goddess of abundance and prosperity of the material and spiritual realms - who is the embodiment of beauty and grace. When we call on Her we are invoking Her qualities within us and draw Her ever near.

NAMAHA is praise/salutations.

I offered the traditional 108 repetitions of this mantra- and added a couple of extras at the end (as usual… just in case mind wandered or count was accelerated).

[If you are interested in learning more about the power of shakti mantras- you might want to check the book of the same name by Thomas Ashley-Farrand or Mantra Yoga and Primordial Sound by David Frawley. This translation inspired in part by the latter.]

 

 

*I am not financially affiliated with Root & Bloom. I only wish to share good medicine when it comes my way. 

I hope Laurie's medicine strikes a cord in you as it does me.

Wishing you contentment, joy, and enoughness.

 

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