Dreams, goals, aspirations – we all have them. Some more than others. But in today’s world, we are always working towards something. A healthier version of ourselves, a thriving business, the new car. Working towards goals is fantastic, it keeps us motivated and helps us to achieve our dreams. (And who doesn’t love that?) But in amongst all the doing and the striving, have we forgotten to stop and look around, and realise that everything right now is actually pretty darn good?
The Yamas and Niyamas
Yoga is so much more than the poses we create on our mats. Yogis have a set of ethical guidelines called the Yamas and Niyamas that they can choose to follow. These 10 codes help to guide us through our everyday lives, both on and off the mat. The Yamas refer to actions taken towards the Self, and Niyamas are actions we take with the world around us.
While all the Yamas and Niyamas offer insight and guidance, I like to keep myself reminded of the fourth Niyama; Santosha. Santosha is the Sanskrit word for contentment. Often, when we think of contentment, we think of it as settling for something. “I don’t how she can feel content with the way her life is.” However, what contentment means in the Santosha context is living in such a way that we are not always striving. Where we are not in a constant state of reaching for something and then as soon as it’s achieved, we reach onwards and upwards for the next thing.
Contentment is everywhere when you know how to find it
As a society, we are so driven to achieve that it’s become difficult to sit and observe. Instead, it feels normal to continually race around ticking things off the to-do list. If you’d like to invite more Santosha into your life, or maybe see how you currently identify with Santosha, set aside some time in your day where you don’t need to be anywhere, for anyone or anything. (Yes this can be difficult, but it is also important.) Now, grab a cuppa and sit somewhere where you won’t be disturbed. Bonus points for being somewhere in nature!
Take a few long, slow, deep breaths and become fully present in the moment. Visualize a few things in your life that are good. It might be that you’ve been saying kind things to yourself, you have people in your life that love you or a special animal that goes crazy when you enter a room. All of these things are reasons to feel content with life, no need to think of the huge goals or achievements here. When it comes to reaching contentment, it is the simple things that matter the most.
How good is that?!
Feel into the energy of contentment
Where do you sense the feelings of contentment in your body? Do some exploring and use your intuition. If there is an area of your body that feels content, where does that reside? In your shoulders, belly, heart, toes? Choose to feel content in this moment and feel it spread to other areas of the body. Anchor yourself in contentment and most importantly, know that you can come back to this place whenever you feel yourself striving for something that doesn’t serve a purpose. It is easy to spiral into a sea of negative self-talk and self-doubt when we are tired and run down. A little mantra I like to use when I find myself getting like this is to inhale “life” and exhale “is good”. Life. Is. Good. Repeat this for five breaths and feel the energy shift in your body.
It is important to remember that while things could always be better in some areas of life, they could also be much worse.
How can you practise Santosha in your life this week?