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Eckhart Tolle Saves The Day (and my month of Santosha)

As I alluded to in the last post, I started on a mental and emotional spiral near the middle of my month dedicated to Santosha. All this "noticing" of my propensities and awakening of my consciousness may have made me hyper-aware of those things that I am not content with.

Week 3: This week I am to "take responsibility for all of my emotional disturbances", tracking every annoyance and irritation back to myself. It is up to me to decide to "stay in the disturbance or to return to the calm center of contentment, or just decide to be content with my disturbances".

I have so much respect for this exercise and its resulting value. Every irritation does start with us, our decision to let something bother us, especially something small and short-lived. Just as it is up to us to either draw ourselves out of an annoyed state, or stew in it and bitch. This is where the spiral started.

This week I was on vacation in Ft. Lauderdale again (where I was when I started this blog last year), and although vacation is awesome and I didn't have to go to work, it comes with its own challenges: I am still on full-time mom duty (with no days off to daycare), I am far more beholden to other people's agendas, my routines and preferences that I am very attached to are not available, and all of these things combine to create a good amount of personal disturbance in me. In the beginning of the week I did a great job of going with the flow and not letting my selfish/OCD tendencies get in the way of my own or other people's pleasure and enjoyment.

I went to hot yoga two days in a row (early-ish in the morning) because my girlfriend wanted me to go. I don't love hot yoga and definitely don't love to set an alarm to wake up early to go to hot yoga, but I went with the flow and it was fine! I actually liked the total change of pace and style (and music) of a studio very different from my home studio.

My husband was working remotely and therefore occupied and stressed. Which meant I had to keep myself and my bored toddler out of his way. What started as irritation led to a fairly deep hole of loathing for my husband around mid-week. I couldn't really pull myself out of it and didn't really want to. But I was the only one disturbed and upset; he was just floating through his own existence enjoying himself while I stewed. Drawing a line from my extreme irritation to myself didn't help at all, since the conclusion I came to was that I shouldn't have married him and now I am fatally stuck in a unsatisfying relationship with someone I sometimes struggle to like.

Did I just write that?

Will I publish it?

Does it matter?

Moving on.

Week 4: Tells me to practice gratitude and non-seeking in an effort to "be content with each moment as it is."

The gratitude part was pretty easy: I've been keeping a devoted gratitude journal since 2011. I write in it whenever I think to do so, so this week I did it more. I'm pretty well practiced in using mental gratitude lists to combat my negative thoughts, anxiety, irritation, and even boredom. I'm trying to do this more frequently this week, but I'm struggling. Not so much because I'm feeling ungrateful, but because I'm struggling in life this week: I drank my face off on our last day of vacation (I was kid-free in Miami) and was basically hungover for three days. So my ability to do anything was limited, much less to be conscious and spiritually evolved. And I still don't like my husband.

The truth is, the last week of trying to live by Santosha blew up in my face; I couldn't muster a drop of contentment for any aspect of my life, and it got so bad that I had to give up trying. I spiraled down into a deep hole of loathing and resentment of myself, my circumstances, some important people in my life, everything. And honestly, the 7 pages in Adele's book dedicated to Santosha did nothing to instruct me on how to pull myself out of it and just "be content" with it all.

I was feeling a little hopeless.

But then something yanked me out of my pit of despair, and it was Eckhart Tolle talking to Gweneth Paltrow on her podcast, Goop (January 14th '20). Say what you will about GP and her "lifestyle brand", but she pulls big guests on her podcast and this particular one rescued me.

I was walking home from dropping off my kid at daycare, and popped in my airpods to resume any of the dozens of podcast episodes I'm always in the middle of for the 5-minute walk because I am compulsive about listening to podcasts. I picked up in the middle of this episode to hear Tolle talk about seeing problems not as "problems", but as challenges. And each challenge gives us the opportunity to be something else on the other side, whatever that is. Every challenge is an opportunity for growth. And life is just a series of these challenges, bringing us closer to a wiser, more developed and actualized person.

I LOVE me a challenge, so I immediately perked up at this association. And I REALLY LOVE personal growth and self-actualization. Within 20 seconds I was able to completely turn my mind around and look at my current problems--large and small--as mere challenges before me, with growth and change waiting for me on the other side. I turned off the podcast, listed out 4 or 5 of my most front-of-mind "challenges", and was able to tick off each one in terms of potential personal evolution as outcome. It was so easy! And then I smiled and was happy for the rest of the day.

Here are two examples:

Challenge: Child refuses to go to daycare at gym so I can't go workout.

Potential outcomes: get fat and out of shape, or get really creative with at-home workouts and maybe even share them with others online.

Challenge: Relationship is a struggle.

Potential outcomes: Get stronger and closer through hard work and counseling, or get divorced and live a new life as a lonely, struggling single parent.

I went through 4 specific problems in this way and not only did it help me reduce overwhelm in facing them at all, it also clarified which direction I should proceed in moving through it, by foreseeing different outcomes.

It fixed everything and immediately pulled me out of my mental dark hole. Now I just have to get to work on the training plans to get past the challenge and onto the evolution.

Thank god Tapas is next! I've been waiting for a year and a half for this one, which I'm expecting to be the easiest of them all.


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