Among the very most important texts in Yoga is the Yoga Sutras, written by the sage Patanjali in the 2nd Century, BC. In it he articulates eight limbs which comprise the “Royal Path” of Yoga. The second limb, or Niyamas, focuses on personal observances.
In my last post, we focused on the first Niyama of Saucha, or purity. Today I invite you to practice the second Niyama of Santosha, or contentment.
Most of us are stressed out and rarely feel content with our fast-paced, erratic lives. We are bombarded by stimuli designed to make us feel inadequate so that we will continually grasp for material wealth and sensual experience. We seek superficial gratification and become attached to an ever-narrowing comfort zone. When reality fails to provide what our egos expect and demand, we react with anxiety, frustration, fear and anger.
True contentment is learning to accept reality and responding skillfully to challenging circumstances rather than reacting with emotional upset. It is harmonizing our lives with the rhythms of nature, letting go of our egos and embracing the oneness of all that is. It is being grateful for what is, rather than fretting about what our ego demands should be. This is the art of detachment, which brings both contentment and inner peace.
I invite you to practice the Yoga of Santosha throughout the week in these ways:
- Be grateful for all the blessings in your life and for all of the challenges and difficulties as well.
- Accept the outcomes of your efforts, even if they are not what you have anticipated or hoped for.
- Let go of the ego, focus on the bigger picture and and remember that you truly are one with all that is.
- Practice deep breathing, intentionally breathing in acceptance and exhaling contentment.