Tolerating Everything But the Kitchen Sink
By Kristine Kaoverii Weber | February 13, 2021
Moving to a new country has got me thinking a lot about contentment and tolerance. I’m used to having a two-sink kitchen sink, but here I only have one, I’m used to having a clothes dryer, here I have a line, I’m used to calling my mom whenever I want, here I have to think about the time difference, I’m used to playing my guitar, but currently it’s vacationing (with most of my other worldly possessions) on a ship in the middle of the Pacific.
*Sigh* First world problems.
When I get pissy about life’s inconveniences, brutal giants emerge to occupy my inner landscape – poverty, racism, sexism, genocide, environmental destruction. They laser away my frustration reminding me to practice santosha (saṃtoṣa) – the yogic principle of contentment.
A cup of tea, a deep breath, a glance at the sky, a walk in the woods, a gratitude list, the quiet of morning meditation, a good stretch, a smile from my son – make my kitchen sink woes slink back into their holes.
But why do human beings want contentment so badly? Why do we wish for greater tolerance?
Because we are hardwired for it.
Our nervous systems, in fact the whole of our physiology, wants homeostasis, wants balance. It’s what we need to get our front brains online and get on with everything other than survival.
As Abraham Maslow (and so many before and after him) have said that when our needs our basic needs are met, we can self-actualize. We can become someone, and we can do something greater than survive. Being a western person with education (and little residual trauma) automatically puts me in the category of potential self-actualizer.
From that vantage point, contentment and tolerance are simply a matter of reframing, supportive relationships, and self-care.
This morning, as I practiced my asanas, I thought about how grateful I am to have these practices that create balance. What if everyone did? What would the world be like if we all had wide open windows of tolerance? The Window of Tolerance was developed by neuroscientist and psychiatrist Dan Siegel.
I see some very wide open windows here in New Zealand.
I don’t want to idealize a culture that has its very own variety of dysfunction, but it’s interesting to witness a certain cultural contentment. People value and protect their free time (many things are closed, or close early, on Sundays), school is fairly laid back, very little homelessness, everyone can get at least basic health care, there’s a lot of community support, and I’ve never seen so many older people so easily glide up mountains.
I want to share this graphic with you – it was the final project from a student in a recent Subtle Yoga Teacher Training for Behavioral Health Professionals. And it so beautifully expresses the power of these practices to open up the window of tolerance.
Many thanks to Sarah Lane Campbell – Sarah’s happy for you to use this in your work or on social media as long as you credit her.
For me, Sarah’s graphic is an excellent, succinct reminder of the power of these practices to widen our window and help us experience greater contentment, tolerance, and joy. When we are able to find our balance and find contentment and tolerance, we help others achieve it as well. And tolerance is not only good for us individually, it is the antidote to the greed, corruption, and dysfunction that plagues our world.
There’s still time to register for my online workshop/retreat coming up Feburary 20-21, Pranayama and Asanas to Thrive During Challenging Times, Read more about it here. For those who have already signed up, keep an eye out for emails this week to help get you ready!
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