Santosha (Contentment): Studying the Niyamas

boy plays in the sprinklerOne of the most important steps to cultivating happiness is mastering Santosha, or contentment. I believe Timothy Burgin  says it best. “Practicing contentment frees us from the unnecessary suffering of always wanting things to be different, and instead fills us with gratitude and joy for all of life’s blessings.”

Finding contentment is not terribly tricky, but it does take work. My two best tips are: 1. Stay in the present moment and 2. Appreciate what you have.

Stay in the present moment

Before I started learning about the Yamas and Niyamas, I never thought about how much I was cheating myself out of happiness. You see, I am a thinker and a planner. All day, I am normally mentally two steps ahead of what I’m doing, planning what needs to get done. Instead of fully committing to my yoga practice, my brain might be going over my grocery list and mapping my route through Sam’s Club.

It wasn’t until my teacher challenged us to commit to being fully present on our mat for our whole practice that I realized how often I was checking out. While I might believe that my body would still perform the postures correctly, mind/body connection is an integral part of yoga (and Pilates, too). With my mind out grocery shopping, I was missing out on a major component of class.

Once I learned to keep my mind on my practice, I noticed several changes in my classes. Postures became easier. I started finding joy in breathing. No matter the season, I felt a warm happiness. The inside of my body felt like it was smiling, and that translated to my face.

All this time, I thought I was helping myself out by planning ahead. However, by not living in the present moment, I was really limiting my potential to experience happiness.

Appreciate what you have

Instead of looking and wishing, appreciate what you have. Look at your relationships with others, your possessions, and your core self. We all have so much to be thankful for.

When we look to things to bring us happiness, we set ourselves up for ultimate disappointment. The happiness that comes from physical things is fluid, and your contentment with the object will change. When you look inside yourself and find happiness from within, you will be truly happy in a lasting, unchanging way.

By practicing Santosha by living in the moment and being appreciative of what we have, we find greater enjoyment and more meaningful engagement in the life we are living.

What do you do to bring contentment in to your life? Let me know in the comments below.

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Please enjoy Bing Crosby in White Christmas, singing about counting his blessings.

 

Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

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