Welcome to March, dear friends.
Today I continue to write about yoga philosophy. We are going though the niyamas, or ethical observances. We are taking a look at santosha -- contentment this week.
Yoga Sutra 2.42 says "Contentment leads to unsurpassed joy."
Sounds great. But... What is contentment?
Contentment: the state of being contented; satisfaction; ease of mind. (Dictionary.com)
Sounds lovely. Now, how exactly do we practice this? How do we get ourselves to find ease of mind? I find that such simple concepts can feel so difficult to practice.
Personally, I like to think of santosha as a result of practicing radical acceptance.
We may not always be in a desirable place, but we always have control. Choosing to accept what is, gives us the power to be with reality and deal with it. It may not bring unbridled joy immediately, but it does give us a chance to react in a healthy way.
"Santosha, or contentment, means keeping a positive attitude in difficult times. We can choose to wallow in darkness and difficulty, or we can rise above our challenges and see them as opportunities for transformation and the discovery of immense and lasting joy. The more we choose contentment, the more we are able to grow." --Luke Ketterhage
Even though I agree with the general point of that quote, I don't believe you need to necessarily have a "positive" attitude in difficult times. There is a enough space for wallowing in darkness and difficulty, in addition to rising up and eventually finding joy.
Another way to practice santosha is by asking yourself... What am I present with? What's the state of my body? My breath? My mind? My energy? And try to be with it. Acknowledge that you are alive with whatever the state of your being reveals. You could use these questions as a guide to meditate, or write it down in your journal.
Santosha is one of my favorite principles from yoga philosophy. I find the idea of contentment to be so beautiful and deeply needed. I find this is the difference between living with grace and without grace, between finding inner peace and fighting with myself. Here's another great quote:
"Santosa [sic] is the practice of being still with faith, with an open heart and an open mind." --Rolf Gates
May you find santosha.