How often have you heard yourself say, I’ll be happy when…
When the renos are done,
When your work project finishes,
When you lose those last few pounds…
Santosha [Contentment] is the second Niyama outlined in the 8 limbs of the Patanjali Yoga Sutras. The Yamas & Niyamas are the ethical-moral guidelines a practicing yogi aspires to. Yama’s are like the “Don’ts” (the restraints) while the Niyamas are the “do’s” (observances).
We can gain so much from observing contentment, but to meet each moment feeling satisfied, to be able to see beauty and abundance every moment is no easy feat.
Our human conditioning often keeps us in the mindset that we need to acquire more in order to be happy. Because of Avidya (our primal ignorance) we do not realize our inner abundance, and therefore seek “out there” for ways to fill us up. Marketing and advertising preys on this lack mentality in order for us to consume more of their products that ensure you will make you happy.
The need to practice contentment is so relevant in these times. Practicing contentment can help us recognize the fullness and richness of our lives- no matter “how much” we may actually have.
· Our true nature, is one of abundance and permanence. This abundance lies within us, and everyone. As Psalm 46:10 and many other spiritual traditions say, “Be Still and Know”- It reminds us to take time to be quiet, and know this deep peace within you. No matter what is happening in the outer world, if we can take time to still our minds and listen to our hearts, we will know this inner abundance.
· Practice Gratitude- If we have a hard time stilling the mind, then give it a job! Make that job gratitude. As Deborah Adele writes in her book Yamas and Niyams, “Practicing gratitude protects us from our own pettiness and smallness and keeps us cantered in the joy and abundance of our own life”. It is here too, where we realize this abundance is infinite and there is more than enough for everyone to radiate in.
· Maintaining your centre: Something I come back to again and again is recognizing that every moment is complete in itself. If we are seeking contentment it eludes us. Can we sit with whatever comes up in the moment and ride the highs and lows and be still centered within our Self at the same time? This is the practice of yoga- to be in the world but not of the world. To become detached from our sensory attachments in the relative reality to give us happiness, and totally embodied in out permanent peace that lies deep within us all.
In seeking contentment, remember that everything you seek is within you already. Although these practices help us recognize it, it's not something "out there" it's something that's always been with you!