it must be pretty comfortable to be a caterpillar. you get to wrap yourself up in a warm, soft cocoon and sleep for ages. pretty much my world’s greatest fantasy.
but then…there’s a choice.
you can stay cuddled in your comfy cocoon for the rest of your life until you die, or you can wake up and become a butterfly.
i don’t know about you, but i think butterflies are pretty damn cool. i vote butterfly. butterflies get to be all beautiful and surreal. they get to fly and flit and land on happy people’s noses.
and then, of course, they can also be eaten by birds, break a wing, or get trapped by an overzealous kid with an oxygen-deprived glass jar. yeah, being a butterfly has its downfalls, too.
and, so, when faced with such a dilemma, it always helps to ask the age-old question: wwyd? what would yoga do?
the answer lies in the second niyama, santosa. contentment.
contentment can be a nuanced concept and should not be confused with complacency (the other “c” word that isn’t quite as kind).
santosa is the ability to accept and respect where you are in this life. you may not be as pretty, smart, strong, funny, successful, wealthy, or talented as you might hope and dream to be, but you are doing the best you can (damn it!) and that is as much as you or anyone else can expect. but…you still hope and dream. and you strive and stretch. and you experiment and explore because you know that with hard work and dedication (tapas!) you can be more and do more than anyone ever imagined.
you see, complacency is a nice way of saying lazy happiness. too comfortable to care. too tired to try. the complacent person is not a yogi/ni because s/he has given up on his or her dreams and full potential. the complacent one settles for mediocrity.
so while santosa/contentment is happy with how things are, it’s only because it knows that it is the best it can ever be. the yogi/ni is a person who gives 100%, 100% of the time. stand or fall, pass or fail, it doesn’t matter because the integrity is in the effort.
when it comes to asana, santosa changes the whole game.
with santosa, you accept there will be poses you can do and poses you can’t…yet. but you try them all.
with santosa plus tapas, you know there is a tremendous world of asanas out there. some of them will be easy and some hard, some invigorating and some downright frightening. but you try them all. and you never, ever give up.
slip into complacency and you stick with the same poses day in and day out because you know them, you love them, you’re good at them. but you never take a risk.
great things were never, ever achieved in this world by living in your comfort zone. all the excitement, all the challenge, all the risks, and all the incredible triumphs lie outside of your cocoon.
do you want to be good enough? or do you want to be great?
choose great. then break out of your cocoon, away from your complacency, grow some wings and fly. nothing will be impossible for you.