One of my favorite nuances to the teachings of the Niyamas is that Santosha is taught as a practice. Contentment is considered something to be practiced, rather than a state to be achieved. There’s a great quote from Marianne Williamson that’s gets at the heart of this teaching: “Ego says, “Once everything falls into place, I’ll feel peace.” Spirit says, “Find you peace, and then everything will fall into place.” The bottom line is, Santosha practice is not the result of all good things coming to be exactly how you wish they were. Rather, Santosha is the practice of actively seeking contentment with the way things are and, as a result, experiencing supreme happiness and ease of spirit.
Another master teacher shared with me this gem: “Yoga is our connection to reality.” Santosha practice is the art of cultivating contentment with reality as it is. Santosha is the act of receiving reality as it is given to you, and allowing things to unfold just as they are. It may sound passive on the surface, but in fact Santosha is something you actively cultivate. It’s the difference between being resigned to reality, versus wholeheartedly embracing it. That is Santosha; to sit in the heart of reality and be one with all things as they come to you, knowing each experience and each moment is fleeting and will depart just as unexpectedly as it arrived.
Santosha means practicing contentment in all things. Meditation and deep breathing can help to bring contentment by quieting the mind. Let’s keep our meditation practice simple this week.
Let’s just sit, and breathe, and be still. If thoughts or feelings arise, think to yourself “it is what it is” and let them go, and return to just breathing and sitting and being still. Try this simple meditation for 15 minutes each day.
Gratitude is a great way to connect yourself to contentment. It’s a lot easier to accept things when we are anchored in gratitude for the way things have unfolded in our life. I challenge you to start each morning with a gratitude list this week. For 5 days in a row, write down 5 things for which you are grateful. Witness how gratitude has the power to shift your focus into receiving reality as it is, rather than wishing things were different. Sit back and enjoy the good life, just as it rolls in!
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