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Breathe easy (01/14/2007)
By Janet Lewis Burns

Take five deep breaths, a chill pill, a large dose of chocolate, settle into a yoga position, and call me in the morning. Contentment may be easier to achieve now that the busy Holiday season has tamed down.

What is contentment? The trustworthy dictionary describes it as "being satisfied"¯. Whether an emotion or a state of mind, contentment seems to be transitory, especially if one believes, as Buddhists, that a person is in constant transition.

Contentment can be a temporary "high"¯ that fills one with pride upon rising triumphant and achieving an ambitious goal"¦the cat who ate the canary sort of thing. It can be fleeting and fickle, on the path to nirvana. One might go so far as to say that one in unending contentment must have sprouted wings.

There's an old adage that warns, "Be careful what you wish for - you just might get it."¯ This could be hinting at life before and after someone's big hit on the lottery, winning millions.

I don't know about you, but I don't recall any uplifting accounts about neighbor helping neighbor, not to mention lottery philanthropy for mankind. The big bucks are typically blown frivolously and with no direction, often causing a rift in the family, and consequential self-destruction. Some might proclaim, "I'll take my chances!"¯

Losing "everything"¯ can be an aftermath, which seldom refers to the money. Here's to your good wealth!

Anyone who's ever cradled a soft, sweetly warm baby against their breast, heartbeat to heartbeat, has likely known the contentment of butterfly breaths on their flesh. What do those bright, new eyes see as they scan a dizzying world, still roaming now beneath lids closed in slumber land?

In this world of turmoil and conflict, are snippets of contentment all we can hope for? Those family occasions when harmony keeps us from falling apart? Time spent in solitude along a forest path? Sitting on still water with a pole and a prayer of praise?

As we age, it seems we become creatures of comfortable habit. Moods are conceived for various indulgences. Ambience may be more a gal thing"¦a red hat sort of contentment, uninhibited guilt-free abandon, letting defenses down, and whatever trips the ole' hormones.

You may have created a meditative alcove for yourself in your now-quiet home, with soft lights, plush pillows, soothing candles emitting your favorite scents, your most calming music, a book of choice, and a mug of steaming tea (Chai being the latest aphrodisiac).

There's often a favored place, where a retired gal can delight in being freed from meetings and job and career schedules, in the aura of space shared or by herself.

uch a place, for me, is the Blue Heron on West Second in Winona. It gives me good vibes, balancing my yin and yang. Daily menus are an adventure in harmonizing organic tastes, appealingly presented with fetching garnish. The sweets are decadent! They serve loose leaf tea of choice, perfectly hot and brewing in fat mugs.

Body and soul meld together in lamplight, over a fragrant bowl of split pea soup, intimate conversation, a distant tune that jars the emotions, jewels from a brief and meaningful book, and the touch of a child - which awakens you to the nurturing person you'll always be deep inside.

Contentment is viewing a breathtaking sunset and knowing who to thank"¦becoming a grandparent for the first time"¦having a sensitive partner comfortable enough to share your silences"¦knowing you've done your best.

The final breath a person takes may lead to fulfillment. A Bible message from the Heavenly Father assures each one of us , "For lo, I am with you always, even to the ends of the earth."¯ Who wouldn't want to believe that?

Janet Burns is a lifelong resident of Lewiston. She can be reached at patandjanburns@earthlink.net 


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