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Cultivating Contentment

living your yoga Jul 08, 2023

The Eight Limbs of Yoga:  An 16-part mini-course


The result of contentment is total happiness.  – Sutra II.42

How often do you feel content? 

The teachings of Yoga advise cultivating contentment so you may master the art of feeling at ease and at peace with yourself. 

The Sanskrit term is Santosha, the second of the Niyamas of Patanjali's Eight Limbs of Yoga. It is closely related to equanimity, in that practicing it allows one to accept whatever circumstances present themselves, including pleasure, pain, success or failure. 

You may still have thoughts of "I'd be happier if..." despite our efforts. Whether it's weight loss, a new job, meeting someone, or mastering a yoga posture, we often think something external will bring us more contentment. While it's natural to seek growth, relying solely on external desires for peace and happiness can be detrimental.

Santosha helps the yogi to develop a better relationship with oneself. You learn to accept and be content with the way you are, rather than making your happiness dependent on achieving certain goals, attaining more possessions, or changing aspects of yourself. 

Santosha is generally considered to be both an attitude and a state of deep inner peace. Through practice, the yogi is freed from cravings and desires. When you are free from such influences, you are also free to pursue your own calling without fear or manipulation. This is considered an essential part of spiritual development.

 In hatha yoga, Santosha can be exercised through asana practice by accepting oneself and by accepting the body's limitations, rather than striving for more. Work with what you have and make the best of it.

Here are 3 ways to integrate contentment in your life

  • Intention: putting your best efforts into any action, then accepting whatever results come from doing so.
  • Inner state: a mindset of contentment supports other virtues such as compassion, non-grasping and non-stealing.
  • Expression: the outward manifestation of santosha is the appearance of serenity and total satisfaction, without superfluous desires.

My own personal mantra that for cultivating contentment it this:

"This is what's happening now."

Those 5 words propel me back into the present when I find my mind ruminating on the past or feeling anxious about the future.

These 5 words help me to awaken to the reality of the moment where I can effectively make choices that guide me into contentment.

Accepting the way things are outside of yourself, you have the power to adjust what’s happening on the inside where true contentment resides.

True happiness comes from within, not from external desires. While setting goals is important, peace and contentment should not depend solely on achieving them. Practice gratitude, embrace the journey, and cultivate self-acceptance to find joy in the present moment.

May you be at peace. May your heart remain open. May contentment be your guide.


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