Dorit Teaches at Peridance Tuesdays & Thursdays Slow Intermediate 5:30-7:00pm.
Click here to see her schedule on the website.
It’s called ‘Santosha,’ translated as contentment or gratitude. I’m exploring Santosha as a new paradigm for my life. One way I practice is by first noticing a desire when it arises. Then rather than giving in to the desire immediately, I sit still for five minutes or more and consciously practice contentment. I direct my awareness to the simple act of breathing that sustains my life, and pay attention to the pleasurable sensations in my body as I simply sit doing nothing in particular. (Patrick McDonnell wrote a great children’s book called The Gift of Nothing depicting this idea with a charming story and illustrations, fun for adults too!)
If you want to read more about this simple and life-changing practice, I’m reprinting below an excerpt from a series I wrote for www.yogacitynyc.com on Santosha, which is one of five yogic ‘Niyamas,’ or observances. I wish you contentment and freedom from wanting this holiday season.
Santosha, or freedom from wanting
Of all the niyamas, to me santosha is the one that just feels good. Sutra 2.42 tells us that “from contentment, the highest happiness is gained.” Cultivating gratitude, practicing contentment… I picture myself like a cat curled up on a sunny windowsill, just lapping up all the sweetness of this juicy life.
But what about when life doesn’t paint this idyllic picture? From serious conditions like illness or violence to minor annoyances like delayed subways and bad hair days, I am challenged to practice gratitude even when things are not going ‘my way.’
To help remind me that santosha is meant to be a continual practice of unconditional gratitude, I posted a little reminder above my desk: Until you can make friends with the present moment, you’re not really living. Seated breathing practices and simple mindfulness exercises have helped me tremendously to embrace santosha, and not just when things are going ‘well.’ Everyday annoyances like missing a train by the skin of my teeth become an opportunity for practice: can I slow my breathing down and practice contentment, even in this mucky tunnel?
In Edwin Bryant’s commentary on the Sutras, he explains that santosha is about finding the greatest happiness “from the cessation of desire.” When I let go of my designs and surrender to what is, my life shifts into the present moment. My computer crashes; the four hours I spend trying to get back online could be full of irritation and impatience for results, or I could choose a more sattvic (harmonious) approach to the situation. Each press of my finger on the keyboard could be a reminder that here I am, alive in this miraculous and mysterious existence. When I practice santosha, joy arises from within, completely independently of my external situation, which is always changing.
Santosha doesn’t mean I don’t work to change what feels unacceptable. My life partner will hear about it when he leaves tomato sauce stains on the countertops. I still work to protest war and violence. Contentment doesn’t mean just sitting back and lackadaisically watching the world go by. But armed with this gentle yet vital practice, I am able to approach each day with more compassion, more relaxation, and thankfulness just for the opportunity to be here and experience it all – the pleasurable events as well as the drudgery. It’s all an opportunity to grow, and to let go of the idea that I can control or put any conditions on reality.
Check out Lauren's blog at http://www.breathtakingspace.com/transformations
Marijke Eliasberg is currently teaching and choreographing in the Netherlands. She is choreographing a new commissioned piece on the 2nd year teacher department of the Theaterschool/Amsterdam School of Dance and teaching Master Classes at Codarts Rotterdam and Studio K'dans in The Hague! She will be back at Peridance Saturday, Dec. 18th 3pm and has a new class starting Tuesday, Dec. 21st 11:30-1pm!
Peridance teachers, Dana Foglia, La Jon Dantzler, and Joanna Numata are participating in the creation of “cy.clo.thy.mi.a.” a new dance show by The United Project. The performances are Dec. 12th and 16th at Manhattan Movement & Arts Center. For more information www.manhattanmovement.com/calendar or 646.385.8493.
Anabella Lenzu is celebrating her 20th anniversary of teaching and the 5th anniversary of her company Anabella Lenzu/DanceDrama throughout 2011! She feels that she has come very far in realizing her dream to form a company that has a unique dance language. She also has an upcoming show, Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) 2011 Conference at New York City Center, January 9th 2011.
Wes Veldink has been away teaching in Italy and Finland. While away he shot a dance short film in the south of Italy that will be submitted to dance on film festivals this coming year. He also choreographed Gwyneth Paltrow, Leighton Meester and Garrett Hedlund for the feature film "Country Strong" which has a limited release Dec. 22nd and wide release Jan. 7th.