April: Santosha – Contentment
Santosha, the Niyama of contentment on Patanjali’s eightfold path, sounds blissful, but isn’t the easiest to practice. Even the most dedicated yogis can still have thoughts arise in the mind of ‘I’d be happier if…’. Whether it’s a physical change, a job change, a relationship change, or even a pose we’ve been working towards, there may be things that we feel could make us happier or more content. It’s important to distinguish that having urges to grow and expand our minds and push ourselves towards a goal isn’t bad – it’s just shifts if we are basing our entire sense of peace or happiness upon this.
Santosha also doesn’t mean to sit back and relinquish the need to do anything, but rather means to accept & appreciate what we have and what we are. It is in our nature to want more, to not let ourselves rest. But we have to consider which of our goals are really important to our life, our world and our wellbeing.
The answer lies in non-attachment and the appreciation of our true selves. Happiness & peace resides within and being in a Santosha state of mind is about maintaining balance through all that life offers. Santosha is a practice of gratitude and joy and to remain calm with both successes and failures.
Santosha in practice:
- Notice if you’re finding yourself always getting ready for the next thing or looking to find contentment in something outside of yourself.
- Notice if your expending much of your energy focusing on things that you might be able to let go of – judgement of the Self, judgement of others, perhaps gripping a certain trajectory of your life path.
- Notice if you’re continuously avoiding certain things and ascertain if you might instead work on developing ease and peace within while experiencing these avoided people, place, or things.
- When you’re on the mat, see if you might extend your exhales or breath more smoothly in challenges. See if you can relax the body more fully in Savasana. Take small moments to train the body into ease and contentment in all that you do.