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Yep_1_1.jpgn. contentment (kuhn-tent-muhnt)

Contentment literally means "ease of mind." This definition teaches us that contentment comes from within. And happiness stems from contentment. If you live in the United States, you are endowed with a certain inalienable right to "pursue happiness." This implies an ongoing search, as if we can attain happiness through that which we own, consume, or experience.

However, happiness is not something that can be found from outside your own skin. Many of us assume that if we had more money, the perfect spouse or kids, or a larger house or faster car that we would be more content and happier. Yet, aren't there rich people who are discontent? Who still want more? Aren't there people with the most loving spouse and the biggest house who are still unhappy? Of course.

Feeding into discontent is like feeding a fire: the more fuel you add, the more the fire grows. Contentment means being satisfied with things as they are. When you are satisfied with the way things are, you allow yourself to be happy, not just to pursue it.
5104454136_d46965c964_b_1.jpgn. courage (kur-ij)
In old French, the root "cour" of courage referred to one's own heart, and truly, moving through life with courage means moving from a place of heart. At the same time, to connect to your heart in this way, in essence to allow your heart to guide you, requires tremendous courage.

It is certainly much easier to deny your heart's true desires and move through life on autopilot, but doing so will also most certainly leave you feeling unfulfilled, unsettled, and perhaps unhappy. It takes courage to allow yourself to live fully as who you are, and it takes even more courage to find and follow your path.

When you come to the precipice of the unknown, where you must leave your old life as you knew it and commit to your life's calling, the feeling is unsettling. That's because to be in the present moment in this way by its nature is to not dwell on either the known of the past or an imagined future. For this reason, to be in the present moment is to accept uncertainty. However, our breath allows us to accept what is and what we want, and we must have the courage to follow our dreams, to allow our heart to guide us and, ultimately, to be happy.
3564366846_36f5193f63_b_1.jpgv. awaken (uh-wey-kuhn)
"May you awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence." -John O'Donohue

In Old English, to awaken meant "to spring into being." The word connotes a call to existence, to life and to the present moment.

As the sun calls the flowers to bloom, let it's warmth be a reminder that you are alive. Too easily and too often we put our selves on auto-pilot. At these times, you might find yourself just "going through the motions." However, your awakening is as simple as the the act of realizing you're on auto pilot.

Don't over think it: if you find yourself checked out, that discovery is enough to check you back in, to awaken your to your true Self and, in doing so, to awaken your greatest potential. "Awaken" yourself as often as necessary, without judgement, until the state of being awake becomes your new normal.
P1000930_1.JPG n. fulfillment (fool-fil-muhnt)
The roots of the word fulfillment have been around for over 1000 years, but the idea of feeling content and full from the inside out have been around since the beginning of mankind. The state of fulfillment is the state of completion or realization.

In modern society, too often we are taught to think that our fulfillment is linked to things outside of us. These can be material goods, degrees, or people. However, it is important to realize that everything you could ever want, in essence all the keys to your fulfillment, are already inside of you. In fact, your natural state is being fulfilled, and it is the conditions of the world and modifications of the mind (of our true Selves) that shield our eyes from this true. To reach fulfillment is simply to come back to your true nature.

Lao Tzu once said, "When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you." You already have everything you could ever want or need to be fulfilled inside of you. Now the task is to share that joy with everyone else.
P1000951_1.JPGv. commit (kuh-mit)
The changing of the new year is seen in today's culture as a time for plans and goals, dreams and resolutions. If we are not careful, it is easy to get swept up in the rush of new energy. To become fixated on that which we desire or resolve to attain sometimes means that we forget that we already have so much.

Stemming from the mid 1300s, the word "commit" originally meant "to give over." This January give yourself over to your true self. In our asana practice, this means being present and honoring both the challenge and also the joys of movement-based yoga. Off of your mat, take time to be present for all that life has to offer and honor all that you have in the present moment.

 Make plans and set goals for 2012, and at the same time, be open to synchronicity, synergy, and serendipity. Commit to taking time this year to be still, and when these quiet moments seek to tell you something, commit to following their advice. "Commit" has evolved to now mean "to give in trust" or "to entrust." Give in to the trust of your inner teacher and make this year the most exciting, most fulfilling, most inspiring yet.

P1000524_1_1.JPGn. presence (prez-uhns)
Being present is difficult to achieve in everyday life, let alone in the midst of traveling, holidays, and family get togethers. However, cultivating a sense of presence - rooting yourself to the here and now - can be both a tool for daily life and also an antidote for holiday stress.

The path to presence is through breath.
When you feel drawn away from this present moment either by activities or thoughts, you can bring yourself back through a simple breath exercise: Breathe in and say to yourself "I am breathing in;" breathe out and say "I am breathing out." On your next round of breath, try "I am here" coupled with "This is now."

Our breath is our constant connection to the here and now, and our "presence" is rooted in its flow. The next time you feel tension rising or yourself being drawn away from your true self, slow your breath down. Your breath, and in turn your presence, allow you to be present for the people in your life - both loved ones and strangers - as you offer them your truest, fullest loving self.