As most of you know, the past few years have been really hard for me. (If you don’t, check out my blog here…sorry its long) Yoga has been instrumental in my recovery and healing process – physically, mentally, and even spiritually.
When I was in yoga teacher training, I came across Yoga Sutra 2.42: santosha anuttamah sukha labhah
“From contentment and benevolence of consciousness comes supreme happiness.”– B.K.S. Iyengar’s translation of Sutra 2.42
I noticed that Patanjali lists santosha (contentment) as one of the five niyamas, self-disciplines, implying that it is not just a state of mind, but something to be practiced and cultivated. Of all the yamas and niyamas, this felt the most out of reach for me. I mean, you want me to cultivate contentment?!?! Given my lack of “natural” contentment, I had no idea how that would even be possible.
True contentment is achieved when the mind is free of rajas and tamas (Sutra 2.41). The sattvic mind is a mind that is firmly seated in Self, and able to discriminate between temporary happiness and abiding joy. With worldly sources of happiness, there is always the threat of it going away, but true contentment cannot be diminished.
I love this definition:
“Contentment is serenity, but not complacency. It is comfort, but not submission; reconciliation, not apathy; acknowledgment, not aloofness. Contentment is a mental decision, a moral choice, a practiced observance, a step into the reality of the cosmos. Contentment/santosha is the natural state of our humanness and our divinity and allows for our creativity and love to emerge. It is knowing our place in the universe at every moment. It is unity with the largest, most abiding, reality.”
When I chose to REALLY fight, I had to repeat my decision daily…hourly…let’s be honest it was a constant struggle. Santosha became my mantra.
Santosha was a revolutionary thought: In this moment, I have everything I could possibly need. Removing the “if I had ___ I’d be happy/loved/accepted/ok,” and choosing to find contentment despite the circumstances became my greatest survival tool. After years of wanting what I didn’t have and loathing what I DID have, I finally began to feel less desperate for a quick fix and more comfortable exactly where I am.
Today is my 30th birthday and, to celebrate how far I’ve come, this is my permanent reminder to consistently cultivate Santosha, no matter how out of whack my world gets.