How often does the phrase “I’ll be happy when..” cross your mind?
Even if we’re dedicated and practising yogis, there are still moments when we have that thought in our minds. Whether it’s being able to get into a particular pose, or losing weight or getting a different job, there’s always a few things that you feel will make you more content.
Contentment, or Santosha (sometimes spelled samtosha), one of the niyamas (observances) given in Patanjali’s 8 limbs of yoga. The yamas are habits yoga practitioners should attempt to curb (like violence), the niyamas are habits that we should attempt to cultivate. Being content is an intention, when you have decided not to fall into old patterns of discontent, allowing them make you moody, sullen or angry. It is a practice. It doesn’t mean you turn a blind eye to injustices or even your own discontent, the practice of contentment allows us to acknowledge the reality of your discontent without anger, outrage or reactionary violence.
The answer lies in non-attachment (Vairagya), peace and happiness lies within and when we rely on external things we somehow bind ourselves to be more discontent. Having the urge to grow and push yourself isn’t a bad thing, it becomes bad when we base our entire peace and happiness upon it. Desire, greed, joy, pain. We ultimately become attached to these experiences by attempting to push them away or by clinging to them.
It doesn’t end well.
Santosha is a difficult practice because it is in our nature to want more and satisfy our urges, but we have to consider what’s really important to our well-being, once you’ve fixed something another things seems to break.
If you accept that nature is constantly changing around you, our body and minds too can change and unlearn.
We can all admit to taking a peek at our neighbour during class to see if we’re doing ‘better’. Truth is, we have a lifetime to explore in our practice and there’s no deadline to get to a ‘level’. This may be difficult to accept but the body contracts in defence when we push ourselves physically into an asana we’re not ready for.
Make the intention to appreciate yourself for what you are and how far you’ve come and all you have to look forward to. You’ll find yourself letting go of the ‘need’. Contentment allows us to enjoy the emotional experience without dwelling.
So alleviate the cause of your discontent, whatever it may be, but always remember to Breathe.
Love and light,