This month at Breathe we will be focusing on santosha, the 2nd of the five niyamas, or observances. The niyamas are actions and attitudes we can practice to promote freedom from suffering and enhance our connection with the outside world. Santosha is the practice of contentment. This niyama is about finding our center, that unwavering aspect of ourselves that never changes amidst the twists and turns of life. When we rest in our center we find that all we need is in the moment, even if the moment is challenging, this requires both discipline and enthusiasm. Santosha is the quintessential “present moment” observance and a critical step to cultivating non attachment to external possessions. Santosha includes not craving for what we do not have as well as not coveting the possessions of others. When we are perfectly content with all that life gives us, then we are on a path of attaining true joy and happiness. It is easy for the mind to become fooled into thinking that we can attain lasting happiness through the possession of objects and goods, but both our personal experience and the teachings of the sages prove that the happiness gained through materialism is only temporary. Practicing contentment frees us from the unnecessary suffering of always wanting things to be different, and instead fills us with gratitude and joy for all of life’s blessings.
We invite you to join us in bringing more awareness to the practice of contentment this month (and beyond). Here are a few ways to get started:
— Each time you hold a pose that is challenging, focus on breathing smoothly, and extend our exhales.
— Find ease in whatever I’m doing. Let go of perfection, and welcome acceptance.
— Let go of what you can’t control. Many things are beyond are authority, but we can always take ownership of our breath and our attitude. Maintain progress, move forward, and don’t sacrifice your bliss for things outside of your control.
— Focus on the positive. Avoid focusing on what isn’t going your way, and celebrate what is! Positivity is contagious, it welcomes gratitude, and both of these breed the outcome you’re looking for.
— Make a daily gratitude list. This can shift your outlook and focus to all of the good things in your life.
— Use this mantra: “May I be content and at ease no matter where life takes me.”
Santosha is sweet and sublime. Santosha rests in a subtle place that can’t be brought forth with force. Contentment comes to us when we are not pulled by our preferences. The sweetness santosha arrives when we rest deeply into what is, exactly as it is. Santosha remains when we pause from giving the power of our emotional state to someone or something outside ourselves. We let Santosha disappear when try to manipulate others and maneuver ourselves to get the things we “like” and to avoid the things we “don’t like.” Santosha is present when we stop seeking and looking over the fence at what someone else has that we don’t. Santosha abides as we cultivate a pathway to a center point within that does not waver, that is not based on condition. Santosha is us embracing our life exactly as it is.
One of the oldest men alive was asked the secret to longevity. He replied, “When it rains, I let it.”
I hope you find this helpful. Contentment is a wonderful practice.