Updated: Apr 23, 2020
In my understanding of what it is to experience contentment, we must first allow ourselves to experience discontentment. If we resist, we become pulled further into darkness which can be extremely difficult to navigate through. When allowing ourselves to be discontent, it is extremely important to do so fearlessly and without judgment. My perspective may or may not be a clouded reflection, however I've experienced discontent for a great portion of my life from childhood into adulthood. It seems to be that contentment is always an available option and if we can simply remember that, our discontentment will end up being our key to the very thing we seek at any given moment.
A significant shift occurred within my life at the mere beginning of the year 2014. During the month of December 2013, my grandmother was fighting her way through a difficult period of terminal cancer all while wrapping up the last of a divorce. Meanwhile, I was experiencing turbulence with my significant other followed by an unexpected eviction. When the eviction took place, I was informed that all -or at least the majority- of my belongings were waiting for me at the home that had, not too long before, belonged to my grandparents. The divorce had finalized, and the house was sold. My grandparents were each packing and moving stuff out to be moved into their individual homes. I had exactly two weeks to find a place of my own. I needed to move the piles of large trash bags that contained whatever my ex was able to salvage from out of my grandparent’s old day room and into a home of my own. As if that weren’t enough stress, I had finals to make-up from missing class after finding out about the eviction and the Winter Semester was starting the following month. These sudden distractions made it extremely difficult for me to see the blessings than that I can clearly see today. I had two weeks off from school to find a place to live and I did exactly that.
The new year brought forth a great change of pace. I was settling into my new home and had become fascinated with my new studies in Anatomy & Physiology. In a conscious effort to release the lingering tension from the previous year, I began to practice Zen Meditation at a temple in Detroit. I had no previous knowledge or experience with this style of meditation and despite how uncomfortable the experience was for me in the beginning, I felt a calling to attend every week and so I did. What I was "practicing" felt like mild torture to sit in silence on a small cushion for what seemed like forever within a room full of unfamiliar people. My mind continually raced with all sorts of thoughts, plans, and ideas. I thought it would never stop.
Also, during this time, I had made two new friends in my Anatomy & Physiology class who had inspired me to visit Africa. It was that solo trip to Africa during Spring Break that I really began to experience the joys of NOT “always getting ready”. In a short time, South Africa had become so familiar to me that it felt as though my soul was at home. I had enjoyed the contentment of being alone in a foreign country so much that the return to my actual home felt like my oxygen supply had been cut off and I was merely “tensing and gripping” my way through each day that followed. It wasn’t long before I began to project my emotions while, once again, forgetting the many blessings that were already surrounding me. This created many disturbances for me and yet one thing was constant. I, reluctantly, continued to go to the temple every Sunday morning to practice Zen Meditation. Eventually, I began to experience the same contentment that I felt when I was alone in Africa, while sitting on a cushion during Zen Meditation. Sometime after that, I was able to practice contentment outside of Zen Meditation and it has been through constant practice that I've evolved into a more authentic version of myself.