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Episode 27: "It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." These words from the American poet and philosopher Henry David Thoreau reveal an open secret to accessing the state of wholeness, ease, and fulfillment we yearn for. Join me in this episode for an exploration of that secret together with a custom meditation experience to open the door to your own fullness of being.
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“It's not what you look at that matters. It's what you see.”
Welcome to Real Yoga, a podcast dedicated to helping you use yoga's ancient wisdom to unlock your life of radical happiness, connection and meaning. Right here, right now. I'm your host, Eric Walrabenstein, and I'm glad you're here.
Sometimes what we've been seeking, maybe even for our entire lives, is right there under our nose. And as we talked about in our last episode, that most precious of experiences, arguably the experience that drives us to want what we want, and to do what we do, is just like that. And of course, I'm talking about the warm and peaceful fullness of contentment.
Now, in case you missed it, in our last episode we talked about a common confusion about contentment.
Namely, it's the belief that contentment is some “thing” that you can obtain or experience, and it was there that we saw that this notion is exactly half right. Because yes, Maynard, you can experience contentment, but it's not a “thing”.
It's literally no-thing or nothing.
To put it another way, contentment is something that you are left with when you're able to remove the things that obstruct its perception. And that phrase is an important one: “The things that obscure its perception” because here's the secret to being content, and that is, it's to realize that it is always, already here.
Now, I fully realize that that may sound like a warm, steaming load of Malarky, but hear me out.
Because contentment is, well, it's like the space in a disastrously jam packed room full of junk, like one you might see on hoarders on TV.
You step into the room, it's packed floor to ceiling, wall to wall with crap: stacked boxes, old furniture, piles of dirty clothes, a grandfather clock, an upright player piano, and a stuffed parakeet in a bird cage hanging from a wrought-iron stand.
And with so much stuff crammed into this room, the question is:
“Is the space in the room still there? Or have all of the boxes and furniture and junk sent the space packing to some undisclosed location over the horizon”
And of course, the answer, most obviously, is that yes, the space is still there. And not only is it still there, it's totally unaffected in any permanent way by the collection of junk within.
It's still open and it's still clear, and it's still peaceful, spaciousness.
It's just been obscured by all the various and sundry things within it. But take those things away and the space is revealed.
And so it goes with contentment.
In our last episode, we talked at length about some of those things that obscure contentment.
We're talking about the mental and emotional junk that so easily obscures our experience of it.
We talked about mental habits, like the habit of mercilessly judging yourself and everything and everyone around you. We talked about the habit of indulging in self-sabotaging, mental narratives and limiting beliefs that try to convince you of your powerlessness or your unworthiness. And we talked about the grand-daddy of them all: the habit of comparison. That is the habit of comparing how things are in any given moment to the mind’s fantasy of how they “should” be.
But in this episode, we're going to be taking a wholly different tack. For the fact is there's a shortcut to inviting more fullness and peace into your life. Whether you choose to call that contentment or fulfillment or something else.
Best of all, it's a shortcut that you can take right now from where you are—with your life the way it is.
And to do so. to paraphrase the quote from Thoreau, we started with, “not by changing what you look. But by changing what you see.”
Words can be interesting, and in this case, even instructive, containing a trail of entymological breadcrumbs that we can follow to find the truth. For the secret shortcut to being fulfilled or to being contented is right there within the words themselves. They're staring us in the face as plain as the blinking red nose at the end of old Rudolph’s snout.
So what is that obvious secret?
Well, it's this, to be fulfilled is to be filled full. I'll say that again. To be fulfilled is to be filled full. To be filled full by this moment. And to be clear, we're talking about full, not partially full with some corner of emptiness or lack or judgment or desire, but to be filled full to the brim by what is happening now in a way that you as a separate entity standing apart from the experience, disappears.
That's not to say that you disappears as in goes away, but disappears as in being subsumed into the experience itself. No longer is it you and the experience of the moment. It's just the totality of the experience of the moment, which includes what you might normally call you.
And so it goes with being contented or content-ed, different word, but the same meaning. To be content-ed is to be merged or absorbed into the totality of what is, right here, right now, the contents of this moment. No longer is it you and the contents of this moment is just the wholeness of the contents of the moment itself.
To be fulfilled is to be filled full. To be contented is to be content-ed. And in yoga, we actually have a word for this. It's samadhi usually translated as absorption. It's the experience where we as separate from the experience disappear. Or we could also say it's the experience of the truth of oneness.
Despite the conceptual simplicity of the notion, this still leaves us with the question of how, how in the world do we navigate ourselves from the experience of being separate to the experience of being merged? And for that, I've created a special meditation, I call it the content-ed meditation.
Now, before we get to the meditation itself, I'll warn you, it is a bit unorthodox. I'll be guiding you step by step, but I will be asking you to do some things that might, at least at first, sound a little crazy, and it's likely for some of us, the mind might protest with thoughts like, “That's not possible!” Or, “How am I supposed to do that?” or, “This is just silly,” and for that reason, I'm going to invite you to do what you do at the movies—and in novels and short stories, as well. It's something fiction writers call “suspending disbelief”, and it means just that, to suspend your disbelief.
I mean, think of the first time you saw Star Wars with all of its fanciful special effects and other-worldly characters, and imagine yourself sitting there for two hours criticizing everything on the screen.
“There's no such thing as a death star!”
“Why he's using a light saber when he could just shoot him from across the room?”
and “Everybody knows wookies can't drive, let alone pilot a spaceship.”
It would completely ruin the story!
To enjoy the movie, you had to completely suspend your disbelief. Otherwise, the movie simply wouldn't have the desired effect.
And so it goes with our content-ed meditation. When asked to do something that the mind thinks is impossible, just like with Star Wars, suspend your disbelief and simply do your best.
Just go along with the instructions without judgment or criticism of the technique or your performance, and remain connected, engaged, and relaxed.
And I'll warn you, it may take a time or two to get the knack of it, but once you do, I think you'll find it quite profound.
Oh, and in case it's not obvious, please don't try this while driving a car or operating a band-saw or piloting the Millennial Falcon.
Wait until you're safe at home in your meditation space or some other peaceful location before you try it.
MEDITATION PRACTICE STARTS HERE
The purpose of the Content-ed Meditation is to allow yourself to relax and to be filled full by the contents of your experience that is right now arising.
To perform the meditation, we're going to take a comfortable seat at a table somewhere where you'll be undisturbed for five minutes or so. Once there, sit tall on the first three inches of your seat with your spine erect your feet flat on the floor, and your hands relaxed, but flat on the table.
Now, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths through the nose to center…
Feeling the nourishment of each inhale as the oxygen moves into the lungs…
And feeling the ease and relaxation that is inherent with each exhalation as you breathe out.
Remain connected to the breath, inhaling nourishment and exhaling ease.
Now with your next exhalation, gently allow the eyes to float open, but keep the gaze soft and unfocused.
Remain relaxed as you feel your head, feel your shoulders, feel your torso. Feel all of the sensations in each of these body parts, and as you do, with each exhalation, relax even more and feel yourself to be your head, shoulders, and torso.
Continue to breathe gently through the nose. Continuing to relax as your head and shoulders and torso.
Keep the gaze soft and unfocused, body relaxed.
Just be. Head, shoulders, and torso.
Now, with your next exhalation allow awareness to expand and your sense of being, your sense of self to expand and include your arms and your legs.
Soft gaze, easy breaths, relaxing as your head, shoulders, torso, arms, and legs.
Breathe and relax as your entire body.
With the gaze still soft and unfocused, use your exhalations now to softly expand your sense of self again. Feeling it to expand outward through your arms and hands into the table.
Your awareness radiates outward through arms and hands into the table until it includes the entire table, and it's from here that you relax even more and feel yourself to be the entire body, the torso, legs, arms, and table.
Unplug from thoughts, ignore judgment or doubt, and just feel yourself to be in this expanded space of being.
Be soft and include it all effortlessly.
Body still relaxed. Gaze still soft.
And with your next exhalation, feel your awareness expand again, this time down through the legs, into your feet, into the floor, radiating outward to the walls, up the walls to the ceiling.
Be expansive, including it all, the floor and the walls and the ceiling and the body, the entire room inside of you.
Continue to breathe. And relax as the entire room.
Let yourself be content-ed.
A soft and spacious beingness
Filled full by just this.
Refuse to be distracted.
Insist on remaining spacious, resting in this open experience of beingness.
And with your next exhalation, gently close the eyes remain relaxed and at ease.
And simply notice how you are.
Breathing and being and knowing that you are creating a pathway to this experience of wholeness, to contentedness, and the more often you return, the more easily you will be able to come back.
You may gently. Open the eyes.
Well, that's all the time we have for today. I'm hopeful that our Content-ed Meditation has shown you the way to invite more fullness and contentment into your life. And remember, the more often that you practice it, the more powerful it will become.
As always, thanks for listening and please remember that your experience here today has been made possible by somebody who has generously given to support this podcast.
So please, if you found value here, consider paying it forward to someone else by supporting me over on my Patreon page. It would mean the world to me and so many others who this work serves. You can check it out now at www.patreon.com/EricWal.
And finally, if these kinds of teachings are something you want more of in your life, consider joining us in the online Bright Life Yoga Collective where each week you'll join me to go even deeper with these ancient teachings and practices.
Learn more at my website at www.ericwal.com.
So, thanks again! I'm wishing you a week overflowing with full-fillment and content-ment of every kind. I'll see you in the next one.
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