New Offerings and Santosha

First some important announcements.

1. Satmato Yoga Therapy got approval from the city to start building a yoga studio at our home in Rainier Beach!  Stay tuned for ways you can be involved in the New Year.

2. Starting in January, I will have some new schedule changes. I am sad to say I will be giving up a couple classes at Lotus Yoga, but excited to say I will be offering two new classes at a home studio in the Central District.

The first new class will be a return to an evening Yoga for Depression series on Wednesdays at 5:30pm (beginning Jan. 22). The second new offering will be a Yoga and Meditation series on Wednesdays from 7-8:15pm (beginning Jan. 22). These classes are limited to 10 people. Pre-registration will be $140 for a 10-week series or $17 to drop-in on one class (if space is available). To reserve your spot email Satmato Yoga Therapy.

3. Satmato Yoga Therapy has gift certificates for your loved ones! Also, for every $100 you spend in December, you will receive a $10 credit towards a future session (Thai Yoga or private yoga) of your own! Give the gift of a relaxing and rejuvenating Thai Yoga session, or a private yoga session aimed at refining your practice or introducing someone to yoga. You could also look ahead to spring and use a gift certificate to secure a spot in the Embracing Balance Retreat (more information below). To purchase gift certificates email Satmato Yoga Therapy.

4. My Yoga Therapy rates will be going up in 2014. However, if you book your first session between now and December 19, you will automatically maintain my current rate for 6 months ($115/75 minutes). If you’ve been thinking about trying out yoga therapy, now is the time! If you are a current client, you will automatically be grandfathered into this rate for 6 months. Contact me know if you have any questions about this rate change.

Now, onto the topic of santosha, or contentment. Santosha is an aspect of the 2nd limb of yoga (there are 8 limbs). I believe the practice of santosha is like a muscle that we can make stronger, much like the strengthening of our biceps or quads in our yoga asanas (poses). But, how is it that we strengthen our contentment muscles? And, what exactly is contentment?

To me, contentment is a sense of ok-ness. It is knowing that I am ok even when I do not feel ok. It is acknowledging that I am, we are, it is, all right. It does not mean that things are not difficult. It does not mean that I am happy all the time. It is not a denial of my experience. In fact, it is much more of an expansion of my experience.

Recently a dear friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer. On her Facebook page she wrote: I am ok, and I will be ok. This is a beautiful example of santosha. Does her statement mean she is not scared, or tired, or anxious? No, she is having all those experiences, and at the same time, there is another part of her that knows she is ok having those experiences. She is ok experiencing cancer, fear, heaviness and anxiety because that is her direct experience. And yet, she is also experiencing gratitude, laughter, connection and love. She has a deep sense of ok-ness even as she experiences the full range. Our more comfortable or desirable experiences do not need to cancel out the more challenging ones. All of these experiences can be there, and they can be ok there. This is the true essence of santosha.

My friend has had a lot of practice strengthening her santosha muscle, and it’s been inspiring to keep watching her muscles flex. Here are some practices that I have noticed in others and have practiced myself as ways to cultivate this ok-ness.

1. Notice when life naturally feels a-ok. I know that I often disregard these times. I can see them as boring because neither strong pain nor strong pleasure is happening. We all experience contentment on occasion (probably more often than you think).

2. Practice gratitude. When life is throwing us challenging experiences it can seem as if that is all life holds. Yet, even in these moments, there are things to be grateful for. Some of these daily gratitudes we might take for granted could include: easy access to food, a home, the abilities to taste, touch, smell, see and hear, feeling sunshine or the warmth of a hat on a cold, winter day.

3. Acknowledge what is. When I stop fighting what is (i.e. depression, anxiety, grief, discomfort, etc.), I can usually handle it much easier. The discomfort is one thing, but when I fight the discomfort, I am actually adding discomfort to discomfort. That just leads to more discomfort! Easier said than done. This is a practice, just like gratitude. I can touch my discomfort for a moment, acknowledge that it is there and then move on. I do not have to wallow in it, but I can touch it briefly as a way to drop the fight and as a way to be ok with the discomfort that is there regardless of whether I am fighting it or not.

4. Use the affirmation, “I am ok.” It is simple, and it can often help bring us back to the present moment. Part of not feeling ok is re-living the past (i.e. If that didn’t happen my life would…) or projecting into the future (i.e. this conversation is going to go terribly and then…). If I can drop the story (and the fight that goes with the story), I can settle into what is right now. Then I can tell myself that I am ok or I will be ok. According to santosha, you are ok even if you don’t think you are ok!

5. What ways do you strengthen your santosha muscle? I would love to hear!

This month I am offering a root chakra meditation. This short 10-minute guided meditation invites you to explore this energy center, providing some grounding during this holiday season. Enjoy!

Reflections on 30 days of meditation

Last month I invited you to try a 30-day meditation challenge and ten of you took me up on the challenge! During this time, we have had a lively Facebook group sharing the joys and struggles that come along with starting a new habit. This month, instead of me writing the newsletter, I’m going to let the challengers share pieces of their own meditation journey. Some people committed to 5 minutes/day and others for 30 minutes. Some people already had years of meditation experience, while others were making their first foray into a disciplined practice. Here are their words:

“I was spending time on Facebook earlier and then I started reading some posts on this page and I realized I wanted to be meditating and not reading about it, although I was inspired by all of you. SO, I abruptly closed the lid on my laptop, grabbed my cushion and sat for 30 minutes. It was a good sit and I remembered something I read recently in a Cheri Huber book: ‘We have plenty of time. We have plenty of willingness. We’re spending our time on what we are currently spending it on and we’re willing for what we currently have in our lives. We need to check in with exactly how we are spending our time and what it is we are willing for.’ I have come back to this many times since. It reminds me that I want to spend my time and use my willingness for that which will feed my heart and nurture my spirit. Love!”

“My Fridays I have off-work and I hang with my 3 year old boy. I tried to do my meditation while he napped and ended up falling asleep. So after dinner (which included a rare margarita), while my husband was out with friends for the night, Max (my son) and I watched Free Willy and before I knew it, it was 9:30pm. I put him to bed and thought of this group and took a mulligan. With the help of my favorite app (My Meditation, $1.99) I almost completed a full meditation, until Max woke up 8 minutes in and needed some help getting back to sleep. A minute later, I rejoined the app and completed a meditation at 9:50 pm. Thank you Laura Humpf and this group for helping me stay on task. Love.”

“I took 3 days off due to a nasty cold. It was tough to come back, only in part because I still can’t breath through my nose. I realized that after the first few days I was using being sick as an excuse, so it was really helpful to have this commitment as motivation!”

“What keeps me coming back (and I’m so happy I can finally say this) is love. Sometimes I wander away from my practice and get all caught up in my head, until I can’t tell the difference between my me and the story about me, which is so painful and small that I end up with no choice but to grope my way back to the only thing that has ever broken that spell. Which is to sit really quietly, to touch the breath that’s happening in precisely this moment, and to watch the stories with as much kindness as is available. The total miracle of it is that every time I come back to the practice, the kindness is deeper and the space around the story is bigger. And I’ve learned all this stuff that makes my day-to-day experience more joyful – how to stay close, how to be curious, how to companion my own experience. And then, to top it all off, when I hang out with myself in this way all sorts of stuff becomes clear that was not clear before. Hmm, I feel like I should also offer full disclosure: The effort to stay – to pay attention without numbing or distracting in any way – with what’s happening when what’s happening is really painful or confusing is also the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And hands down the most liberating, and healing. So cheers to everyone for doing it again and again and again. It’s beyond worth it.”

“Planning, quiet, impatient, happy, leg falling asleep, aware, distracted, back to breath, counting, not counting, back to breath again and again. : ) No matter what comes up or how it is, I am always glad when I sit!”

“Challenge is the time
And when I find it I am
Completely at peace

Beauty is the calm
Patience is resurrected
I am my best self

A haiku in 2 to respond to your delicious query.”

“It was difficult to convince myself to sit this morning – my grandmother died yesterday and I’ve been noticing a fierce desire to distract myself from both sadness and anxiety around the upcoming family gatherings. 30 minutes felt impossible, so I allowed myself 10. And I did it. It was not impossible. The other night one of my teachers suggested that in meditation we simply leave ourselves alone. To be full of awareness, but to not try to fix or manipulate the parts of ourselves we don’t like. So I left the aversive part of me – the part that desperately wanted to keep moving, that wanted nothing to do with this seat – alone. I let it just be there as I sat.”

I am inspired and touched by everyone’s commitment, honesty, compassion and openness to this challenge. Also, some people decided to continue meditating another 30 days! Stay tuned in the new year for the opportunity to join in on yet another challenge.