Santosha and Gratitude – Yoga, Applied To Real Life
Contentment, or Santosha in it’s hindu form- what does it mean to you? Perhaps lying on a beautiful beach whilst gazing out at the ocean, sipping on a fresh coconut, dozing in the sunshine or delving into a good book?
Whilst this certainly sounds pretty great, true contentment or santosha is not dependent on external circumstances like this dream scenario. Santosha in everyday life means being able to keep your sense of peace and equanimity even when your situation is very far from ideal. YOu can learn more about Santosha and the Yamas and Niyamas in this book by Deborah Adele.
One of the greatest practices to help cultivate Santosha is gratitude
Becoming more aware of the small joys and pleasures in life means that our days, however taxing, can be sprinkled with the mageic of santosha. Simply paying attention to what’s going on outside of your head, rather than in it, opens up whole new levels of appreciation for everyday life.
Here are some examples
Savouring your coffee rather than glugging it down and barely even noticing it.
Focusing on the glorious sound of early morning birdsong rather than the roar of traffic.
Relishing the soft touch of a favourite pair of socks rather than shoving them on mindlessly.
The day is full of sensory experiences to enjoy, if we can just get out of our heads and pay attention.
Even when life is frustrating, we can flip our perspective and find the kernel of goodness in our experience.
Builders drilling outside your window? Not everyone has the ability to hear that, but you do. That’s worth gratitude.
Overstuffed email inbox? You have access to a computer and you can read, write and type. That’s worth gratitude.
Being jostled and shoved on a packed train? You are physically independent enough to be on that train in the first place. That’s worth gratitude.
We also become more contented when we focus on bringing value to our human relationships and interactions
Stopping what you’re doing and giving someone your full attention when they talk to you not only makes them feel valued, but also builds relationships, which are vital to our sense of connection and wellbeing. And this applies to everyone you interact with, from our partners and parents and children, to petrol station checkout staff and strangers you pass on the street. Simply making eye contact and smiling says ‘I see you’, and fosters a greater sense of communion with the people and world around us.
When we take the time to fully engage with our environment and feel grateful for the myriad blessings that we have, a shift starts to take place
We start to feel that life is abundant; rich with joy and opportunity. Discontentment always comes from a place of lack; a sense that whatever we have, it’s not quite enough. When our perspective changes to one of abundance, our sense of satisfaction with life grows and blossoms, and we begin to embody the beautiful niyama of santosha: contentment.
Thanks to Becky for this insightful blog – for more of her yoga philosophy blogs find them here.