Santosha: Contentment and Gratitude for What Is


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Yoga has been a passion of mine for about ten years now. I took my first class when I was pregnant with my now ten-year-old and it helped me to remain limber and feel wonderful about my blossoming body during pregnancy. Now, I try not to let a day go by without doing either my physical or hatha yoga practice, and I do my best to meditate as often as I can. Part of the philosophy of yoga is captured in Patanjalis’ eight limbs of yoga. These eight limbs include the Yamas and the Niyamas or the ‘do’s and don’ts’ for the life of the yogi seeking enlightenment.

Lately, Santosha, meaning contentment, has been the niyama that has had my attention and focus. During this time of great transition in this world there is a lot of panic, fear and worry in the air. Each day the news reports the downward spiral of the economy and the great uncertainty about the future. Banks are failing, people are losing their jobs, and major industries are crumbling all around us. This world is undergoing a massive shift and change, while it happens constantly, can be unsettling when it happens in such epic proportions each day.

Santosha speaks to being content with where you are and what you have right now. Take a deep inhale. OK, that means that you are alive, your lungs are working properly and that your eyes work well enough to read these words. It is good. It is all good. Contentment crowds out worry, fear and panic. It is not denial rather it is acknowledging the situation as it is, but choosing not to participate in destructive thoughts about it. Take whatever action you must take, but do so in a peaceful, mindful, thoughtful way that will create the best possible outcome for all concerned.

It is not easy to embrace Santosha when everyone around you is indulging in worry and fear. But if you resist the urge to join them you will create a more peaceful environment that will provide a contrast to their nervous energy. They might wonder how you can remain so calm in the face of such chaos. Santosha does not ask for you to hide away and hum a little song pretending that all is well. Santosha sees the swirling confusion and beckons you to rise above it in a place of peace and bliss. As you hold the space for peace, calmness, and contentedness you in your own way changing the world.

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