Whole Life Magazine

October/November 2019

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Page 14 of 31

October/November 2019 15 yoga W hen we contemplate success, we might frame it as achieving a set of goals based on our outer and inner compasses. Externally, success might be related to how much money we make, how well-known we are within our field, how much power we have to create our ideal reality, and perhaps who we can access and influence. There would be a strong sense of relating to how we are viewed and recognized by friends, colleagues, family, and society- at-large. Internally we might want to achieve clarity, balance, peace, happiness, meeting and surmounting obstacles, accomplishing interior objectives, or mapping to a sense of accomplishment and adventure. Of course, with either of these approaches to success, there is a strong sense of aspiring, reaching, stretching — never completely arriving and settling. Contentment, on the other hand, is perhaps a less commonly spoken about, more elusive, possibly undervalued arena of experience. Sometimes mistaken for complacency, laziness, and a lack of edge and ambition, it might be worth re- defining contentment as "the refined art of knowing when we have enough" — the ability to relax, enjoy, and appreciate what we actually have. Contentment is a deep inner experience that cannot be shaken by the rocking and rolling of our often goal-oriented adventure through the phenomenal world. My old friend, Michael Carroll (author of Awake at Work and The Mindful Leader), has often said that some of us see life as a treasure hunt and others as an adventure.He himself is one of the great companions for undertaking all kinds of adventures. In Buddhism, of course, we have many practices oriented toward cultivating mindfulness, awareness, insight, kindness, compassion, skillful action, and on and on. There can and probably should be some feeling of leaning in, exerting oneself, and aiming at success in the development of those qualities. But there is often, underlying these cultivations, a recognition of a fundamentally intact and unshakeable feeling of well-being suffused with awareness, that is not based on causes and conditions, coming and going, gain and loss. This underlying state has been called Buddha-nature or sometimes basic or unconditional goodness. It is always present and can be recognized as it is any time any place. There is a wonderful practice we can add to our list of things to "accomplish" — in both our spiritual and everyday life exercises. It is called "aimless wander- ing." If you want to try it sometime, just allocate 30 or 60 minutes and set out on foot. You can walk around your neigh- borhood — urban, suburban, or rural — out in nature, wherever you like. Take your time. Walk with a relaxed feeling of present awareness. But with no particular agenda .... and .... no cell phone! When you finish, just return to your ordinary life or your meditation or your yoga practice ... just move back into the flow. If you are able to wander aimlessly, you may discover that success and contentment can meet and consort together on the bridge of present awareness. Good luck! David Nichtern is a senior Buddhist teacher, meditation guide, and Emmy award-winning composer and musician. His new book, Creativity, Spirituality & Making a Buck is available now on Amazon. Learn more about him at DavidNichtern.com. F O U N D E D 1 9 2 0 B Y P A R A M A H A N S A Y O G A N A N D A F O U N D E D 1 9 2 0 B Y P A R A M A H A N S A Y O G A N A N D A S e l f - R e a l i z a t i o n F e l l o w s h i p F O U N D E D 1 9 2 0 B Y P A R A M A H A N S A Y O G A N A N D A F O U N D E D 1 9 2 0 B Y P A R A M A H A N S A Y O G A N A N D A S e l f - R e a l i z a t i o n F e l l o w s h i p Inner Ref lections 2020 Eng a g ement Ca lendar A Daily Retreat Visit our gallery at IRcalendar.org Spiralbound, 54 color photos, $13.95 Inspiration from Paramahansa Yogananda SUCCESS AND CONTENTMENT By David Nichtern The Bridge of Awareness

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