I've been really getting into Yoga lately- the physical, mental, and emotional parts that all work together to form one coherent "practice." While I still haven't quite grasped the whole meditation concept yet (we will just blame it on my 3 year old attention span), I have been doing a lot of reading about it. One of the mantras that has consistently stuck out to me is:
Santosa - The practice of being happy for no particular reason at all.
If you've known me any length of time, you know this is something that I have always struggled with. My emotions are volatile. They always have been. My highs are really high, and my lows, I hate to admit it but sometimes they get pretty stinkin' low. It's not something I like to talk about, especially publicly, but I'm really working on growing here. A couple of years ago, I decided I was sick and tired of living on a constant wave, and I tried so hard to find something to "mellow" myself out. But you know what? That wasn't quite right either. I'm a hurricane of a girl, it's in my nature, and if you try to force something like that to change... it's kind of like telling the winds not to roar at night. It doesn't work, and if you somehow trick it into happening, it's not sustainable. So I changed to working on my attitude. Let's face it. You're going to fall in life, it's unavoidable. The kicker is: sitting in the dark, you can choose to wallow, cursing that hole you've fallen into again, or you can decide to raise your face to the sun. I'm choosing to bask in the light. More and more lately I've been working on finding happiness in the little things in life. Cliche, I know, but stick with me.
Most of you have probably read this story, but here's an overview. Joshua Bell (think world renowned violist, who sells out shows in crazy fancy places and has a (reportedly) $3.5 million violin) teams up with the Washington Post to do a social experiment. He stands in the DC Metro and plays for 43 minutes. 1,097 people pass by him. How many stopped? Twenty-seven. Twenty frickin' seven people.
Now, if you're like me, you probably hear that story and think "Oh no! Not me. I would have stopped." But really, would you? Do you notice the beauty that is all around you, or are you so wrapped up in your daily routine, in the voices in your head, in the things commanding your attention that you simply pass them by? It's a little disheartening, but chances are you would have waltzed right by him, scrolling through Facebook, on your way to your next meeting.
I was running errands today, when something caught my eye in the left hand turning lane at a red light. There was a group of three kids and their dog standing on the side of the road. They were juggling, break dancing, and doing tricks with their German Shepard. The third kid was holding a sign that simply said No donations, please just SMILE! I cracked up, and then sat there and watched as probably fifteen cars blew by them, not even noticing. I looked in my rear view mirror and watched a girl texting on her phone, another guy frantically screaming into his. Not one of them noticed those three kids on the side of the road. How many of these little moments do you miss in a day?
It is so easy to see beauty in change. In different places while you're traveling or adventuring off to new lands. But how many of you stop to notice the beauty that is all around you, right where you're standing now? I snapped this photo on my iPhone at a winery about 30 minutes from my house. Do you know how many years I have driven by these mountains? Passed right on through without evening noticing? Sure, they're no match for Mt. Reiner rising in all of her glory from the clouds capped in snow. They certainly don't rival twisting and winding your way through the Smokey Mountains down South. But you know what? They're pretty stinking awesome in their own right. I sat in that winery with tears pooling in my eyes. It's been right in front of me this whole time. I've just never cared enough to notice.
Let that sink in. Once you starting caring to notice everything starts looking better. I typically find my "Santosa" in nature, but you could find it anywhere. I urge you, fall in love where you're standing. Go for an adventure in your own backyard. Take a minute, a second, to smell the roses. To listen to the violinist in the subway. To smile at the kids on the side of the road. To hold the door for the lady behind you. Go on that hike. Find that journey. There's light all around you. Sometimes you just have to allow it that chance to shine through.