As we meander into the holiday season, culminating in the celebration of a new year to come, we should be filled with gratitude over all that we have been given. Yet as the moments and days go by we get caught up in our everyday ups and downs, and find ourselves less and less aware of the abundance in our lives. This month, we invite you to continue the momentum of gratitude and giving thanks by focusing on the practice of santosha. Santosha, one of the niyamas (daily observances) of the eight limbed yoga path, means contentment.
The yoga sutras tell us that “as a result of contentment, one gains supreme happiness.” Awesome, sign me up! who doesn’t want supreme happiness!!! Actually, we don’t… or maybe we do, but we spend so many of our moments wanting things that we don’t have, regretting the past, living in the illusion of what the future may hold, believing we are not enough, looking outside of ourselves for answers and living in fear of our responsibilities. And even when we are in the midst of the perfect moment, our minds wonder whether this moment will last, if it is real, if we deserve it… Living in a world where we are constantly told that we need more, especially that if we buy more we will be happy, the concept of santosha is a challenge.
Just as we can look around ourselves and find gratitude and grace on Thanksgiving day, we can rise to the challenge of santosha and begin to find contentment through all the moments of our lives. Santosha invites us into the understanding that we are all born divine and have everything that we need. The shiny new car, shoes, house, partner will only bring a drop of contentment if we continue to seek happiness from the outside in.
We all have our ups and downs, some of us have experienced situations that can be defined as a crisis, some of us have lost jobs, homes, partners, the list is endless… Contentment does not mean to not mourn a loss in one way or another, but rather it is the acceptance of our mixed lot as human beings. Santosha is contentment with what we are, our actions (past and present) and what we have in life, but it is not complacency or the feeling that we are “stuck.” It does not mean that we allow our growth to remain dormant nor to accept an unhealthy situation, rather it is making the most of our hardships, striving to better our situations and looking at every experience as an opportunity to grow.
As we move through our moments with awareness, finding truth, moderation, compassion, non-attachment and gratitude in all things, we learn to accept and love ourselves and all living beings. From there the supreme happiness of santosha naturally follows.
We are grateful for all of your open hearts and minds. We wish you and your’s health, peace and santosha throughout the holiday season.
We hope to see you soon on the mat.
Living Yoga Staff