16 Nov Santosha (contentment, modesty, acceptance)
This piece was originally published in the OWY newsletter in November of 2013.
Previously I touched on the first niyama, saucha (cleanliness). As a quick review the 8 limbs of yoga are:
- Yamas (external restraints)
- Niyamas (internal observances)
- Asana (postures)
- Pranayama (breath control)
- Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses)
- Dharana (concentration)
- Dhyana (meditation)
- Samadhi (absorption)
The second limb, Niyamas, include:
- Saucha (cleanliness)
- Santosha (contentment, modesty, acceptance)
- Tapas (purification, discipline)
- Svadhyaya (self-study, witness consciousness, who am I?)
- Ishvara Pranidhana (yield to Ultimate Reality, non-attachmeng to the benefits of our actions)
As with all the other yamas and niyamas, this concept can touch on so many aspects of our lives. Modesty I’ve never had a problem with, though I may may be too modest at times to the point where I don’t stand up and take credit when it is appropriate.
Contentment and acceptance are two things I constantly have to remind myself of. My default reaction seems to be “why is this happening to me?” or “can’t I catch a break?” Especially in this past year where I’ve gone through a lot of changes, most of which I wouldn’t have consciously chosen, though not all bad. When I can be content, and at peace with this moment, and accept all things as they are, there is a peace and happiness that naturally comes about.
There is nothing I can change about the world, at least not like in the show I Dream of Jeannie. I can only control my responses to situations. And no matter how much I pursue a new gadget or relationship, it never leads to the contentment or peace I believed it would.
And acceptance is something I’ve always wanted from others, but never took the time to give to myself (sometimes I don’t give it to others either, but progress not perfection).
So what is contentment to you? What does it really mean? What things are unacceptable to you? Do you regularly feel the need to tell others of your accomplishments? Dig down and be open to what you find without judgement. We can’t improve our lives or how we relate throughout them if we are not willing to look inside. I’ve found that when I am able to do this, I am able to let go of things that do not serve me and find within my self a level of caring about others that has revolutionized my relationship with the world, as well as my happiness. I wish that for you as well.