Santosha is the second of the Niyamas of Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga.
It is often translated as ‘contentment’; the feeling of being at ease with yourself. Not lusting after what you do not have or coveting what others have.
Conversely, it doesn’t mean having no ambition, or being happy to kick back and relinquish the need to do anything either!
Santosha means accepting and appreciating what we have and where we are in ourselves at this present moment, and moving forwards from there. And to find this requires balance.
It’s a natural part of being human to want to grow and develop ourselves; it is wrapped up in our instinct to survive. It’s exciting to set our sights on a goal and receive those ‘feel good’ hormones (dopamine and serotonin) that get released once our ambition has been realised.
As with all things in life, the cycles within nature, in the constant regeneration of our bodies and fluctuations of our minds, permanence does not exist and soon that contented feeling of happiness we feel initially wears off. It’s easy once the ‘high’ has worn off to get into a cycle of seeking our next goal, basing our entire sense of peace and happiness upon achieving it.
“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” — Mother Teresa
So we need to weigh up what is really important in our lives and find the right balance or else we will constantly be chasing our tails.
We all have our ‘stories’ in life. Things that we have experienced — may they be good, happy, sad, cruel or tragic. We have to understand that those are exactly what they are…stories that have unfolded and perhaps define you as the person you are today but there is an acceptance, an understanding that you are exactly were you are meant to be, right now. Wholeheartedly accepting just where we are now and moving forward from there is the key.
You will always be you, and you can either continue to disregard your wonderful combination of uniqueness in favour of reaching towards something you think you’re supposed to be, or you could appreciate it, love it, and be the best that you can be right now.
Stop the struggle with yourself on the mat. Accept and appreciate what you have and what you already are at this moment in time, and move forwards from there. Give up the fight with yourself and you will open the door to a sustainable and transformative practice.