This week we're continuing on our path of bringing yoga into everyday life with the idea of santosha (san-TOE-sh-ah) which means contentment. You can check out tips and ideas over on Instagram.
I think this niyama (aka "observance") is one of the hardest for us Western-minded folk. Contentment inevitably brings up notions of "settling" and "tolerating," which of course flies in the face of hard work and making the most of what life throws your way.
But that's just not what this is about. Either of those things.
The easiest way to think of santosha as a start is gratitude. You can start this practice by just seeing what is good about whatever is going on. And yes, I know that's not always easy either. When you're broke or just found out you have a terminal illness or just even read the news, it's hard sometimes to find things that make you feel grateful.
Step 1 is just looking for gratitude-worthy things in your life.
And that doesn't have to look like anything in particular. Some people like a gratitude jar, others like "beauty hunting," or keeping a mental list of the 3 best things that have happened so far today and just updating that list regularly. Personally, I just look around and try to notice what I like in my current situation.
Going deeper into santosha, step 2 is zooming out far enough to realize that whatever is going on isn't permanent and it will be ok.
Honestly, this part is a lot harder than gratitude, but also truer to the concept. My favorite trick for "zooming out" is playing the worst-case-scenario game. Follow the train of thought for what you are worried might happen. For example, Timmy is biting other kids in kindergarten...he's going to get labeled a problem child, he'll get kicked out of school, he'll have anger issues his whole life, he won't make any friends, he'll be a pariah, he'll never get a job, he'll go to prison.
Yikes. Ok. Deep breath. Now ask, how likely is that really? Yeah, it might be theoretically possible, but does it have to be true? What's another way to think about it? How about, he's just having a tough time with the shift to kindergarten, as long as I'm stable and give him love and loving discipline, he's going to be completely fine.
You might have to go through a few worst-case scenarios to get to a story that feels positive to you. I promise you it's in there.
Step 3, this too shall pass.
I know this can be a lot. As you get to a story that doesn't give you total overwhelming anxiety, it becomes easier to sit in the present moment, with gratitude, knowing that this experience showed up for a reason and isn't forever.
I'd be happy to chat with you more about whatever is coming up for you since the practice of santosha gets to some really tricky stuff, or just drop me a line and let me know how it's going! You can get a hold of me here.