"We need to figure out how to take this idea of “it is enough” back into the world when it really starts spinning again. But if this is it, I’m grateful. Dayenu." - Ginny Grossman
“God, thank you for everything you’ve given me, taken from me, and left me with.” - Doug Sabin
It’s been a month now. Four weeks of social distancing. Four weeks of withdrawal from school, playing cards with friends, eating at Three Palms in Crocker Park, going to the office or studio or job. Four weeks of the addictive, absurd, even obscene, Tiger King on Netflix. (What IS it about that show, yogis???) Four weeks of struggling to accept and surrender and be present.
We have coached ourselves to repeat familiar, comforting mantras. We are in this together. This too shall pass. Keep calm and carry on. We’ve gone through tough times before. Breathe.
But despite our best efforts, our minds spin off to discouraging places where we wonder when, if, how this ever will be over. I catch myself thinking, I’ll be so happy when life gets back to normal. And then I wonder how long that will be, what normal will look like. Like all of you, I try to be a good yogi and not fight against the reality of now. But my human nature sometimes wins out, and I let myself long for the life I had four weeks ago. I let the ifs and whens and whys wash over me and upend my acceptance of the present.
The key to surviving the challenges facing us in this moment, is acceptance. The doorway to acceptance, lovelies, is contentment. Contentment that what we have, where we are, is enough.
It harkens back to the Jewish song sung at Passover, Dayenu. Dayenu speaks to what is “enough.”
Passover tells the story of the exodus of the Jews from slavery in Ancient Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land. At the time the Jews left, there was a terrible plague, and people were forbidden to step outside their homes. Yet the Jews left, carrying light and hope, and Passover celebrates that God caused the plague to “pass over” the Jewish people. During the Passover meal, Dayenu is sung, celebrating the myriad gifts God has bestowed, and acknowledging that any one gift would have been enough. It demonstrates that while we should celebrate joyously, even lavishly, we also need times of restraint when we relish “enough.” It speaks to gratitude. To contentment.
It is that juxtaposition between restraint and excess that gives meaning to our lives. God wants us to enjoy our lives, but expects us to understand that in darker times, such as we are experiencing now, life itself is enough. Dayenu. What a powerful statement of gratitude, especially in light of circumstances this Passover on April 9.
Like Dayenu in Judaism, the yogic ethical practice of Santosa, is about contentment. In the Jewish text, Pirkei Avot (Ethics of our Fathers), Ben Zoma teaches: “Who is rich? The one who is content with what one has.” And in Yoga, the Yamas & Niyamas practice of Santosa teaches us that contentment is about restraint in times of challenge. Of maintaining positivity and gratitude. Of relishing “enough.”
A week or so ago, during our afternoon coffee break, Doug was listening to me moan about wanting life to get back to normal, how unfair all this was happening just as the new spin studio was about to kick off, how I wanted to get back to work and quit sitting home. Whine, whine, whine.
Finally he said, “So what? Now what?” It’s something I’ve heard him say to newly sober guys to get them to see that sure, they’ve had a run of problems or bad luck, but it’s what they do NOW that counts.
Oh, did the gong hit me on the head! This present moment is enough. It has opened the door to contentment for me … heck, I even baked bread the other day … and it has opened for many of you, too. You’ve shared that your families are cooking together and eating your evening meal together, a big change from four weeks ago when the norm was grabbing dinner at Olive Garden or Jersey Mike’s a couple times a week or serving dinner in shifts to accommodate sports or music lessons or meetings. Lots of you have turned off the television and are playing games together, doing puzzles, face-timing Grandma and Grandpa more often. Many type-A men (and women) aren’t working 60+ hours a week and have rediscovered the joy of a quiet glass of wine with their spouse, reading a bedtime story to their children, riding bikes as a family. We have discovered, lovelies, that this is enough. Dayenu. Contentment.
Yet contentment doesn’t rest in acceptance. It encourages us to build appreciation and cultivate curiosity and practice constant gratitude for what we’ve been given, what we’ve lost, and what we are left with.
Remember, lovelies….everything we have is on loan to us from God. Every single thing. Nothing we have, including tomorrow, is promised. So first, accept. Then practice contentment. Gratitude. You have enough. You are enough. Dayenu. -ROSE
Lovelies, I have heard from so many of you about how you are settling in and making it through these “stay at home” days, and I have drawn so much strength from your words. I think our Soul Stretch family would, too. So...in 125 words or less, please tell us your story (and don’t think my stickler editor, Kathleen, won’t count them!) Share a meditation or verse. Something your family is doing. How you are staying present. A book you are finding helpful. What lifts you up (other than yoga, that’s a given!) Sign it with your first name and last initial and city where you live. Over the next few weeks, we will share them all. Send to Kathleen at firstname.lastname@example.org or me at Rose@soulstretchmobileyoga.com. ~ Namaste.