Santosha

Post image for Santosha

September 15, 2011

Santosha. I love the way this word sounds and feels as it rolls off my tongue. It could be an exotic food, a tropical getaway, or a really excellent cocktail (one that is pink with an umbrella), but it is none of those things. Santosha is part of the eight limbs of yoga and is one of the niyamas. The niyamas take a deep dive into our attitudes about life and how we feel about ourselves as outlined by Patanjali.

As I was studying The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the concept of santosha really resonated with me. It was the one I really wanted to follow, my favorite niyama, and I wanted to be its poster child.

From the translation of the yoga sutras by Sri Swami Satchidananda, the definition of santosha is being content with what you have and where you are at instead of wishing for things you don’t have or daydreaming of the future. It is living in the present and feeling true satisfaction. And here’s the kicker: When you have this kind of contentment, supreme joy is attained.

You have to be real careful with your interpretation of contentment, though. For some people, contentment is the way they feel after eating a four-course gourmet meal with wine perfectly paired to each course or after some awesome sex, chocolate—you get the idea. Those types of contentment fall more along the lines of satisfaction. Real honest-to-goodness contentment means just to be as we are without going to food, sex, chocolate, or other “things” for our happiness.

Here are a few ways to practice santosha in your daily life.

  • If something comes, let it come. If not, it doesn’t matter.
  • Practice remaining calm in success and failure.
  • Cut back on energy wasted in thoughts of liking or disliking what is.
  • Practice living mindfully.
  • Ask yourself if you really need that new [fill in the blank] to be content. Seriously, do you really need more “stuff” in your life?

This next little exercise is the hardest one of all for me, but if I could do this each and every day, life would be so much sweeter.

  • Live in the present moment without regretting the past or anticipating the future.

The thing about santosha is that it is a key element in living a spiritual life. If you cannot be happy with yourself and where you are in life, you are going to have a helluva long road ahead on your spiritual journey. Dissatisfaction with life has many horrible symptoms, such as psychic infirmity, complexes, and high blood pressure. I’d rather strive for the symptoms of contentment in life: happiness, peace, and the ultimate…supreme joy.

I’d like to share a little santsosha mantra that I learned in my yoga-teacher training.

I am content.

I am grateful for what I have and for what I do not have.

I learn from the joys and disappointments life brings me.

I honor the good in myself and others.

I refrain from criticism and fault finding.

I accept life just the way it is.

I enjoy life!

So, here’s a toast, a santosha toast, to all my fellow yogis: May you find contentment in your life, stop beating yourself up over the past, let go of fretting about the future, cease the coveting of things you don’t have, be at peace with your life as it is right now, fully present with a heart full of love, and grateful for all you have. Cheers!

Are you a poster child for santosha? Got a great example of santosha in your life? Would love to hear from other members of the santosha fan club!

 

 

 

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

christopheray September 15, 2011 at 8:01 AM

as a s0Me1 once said… “be here N0W”

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Rachel @ Suburban Yogini September 15, 2011 at 9:11 AM

My friend and fellow yoga teacher’s house is called Santosha. How cool is that?

I’m more like a duck. Santosha on the outside, paddling frantically on the underneath….

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Sue Hunt September 15, 2011 at 9:58 AM

Thank You Maria…………… The Santosha Mantra is something I will take, take in, and learn to the point of it becoming a living Mantra for myself. Miss the early morning outdoor Yoga group, but I am following through on my own!

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Susan September 19, 2011 at 3:52 PM

Thank you for posting this… This is something I really need to work on and something I know would really help keep my daily life a bit more balanced.

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Sara September 26, 2011 at 10:59 PM

I love this post! Great fleshing out of the Niyama. For me its a hard one, but more and more I realise when my grasping dissatisfied self is out of control; I just gently acknowledge those feelings and let them go. Contentment really opens my heart and dissatisfaction makes it contract, so now I can actually “feel” whats going on.

I have realised that slowly I am becoming more content with my life and that is one of the many gifts of Yoga.

Sara xx

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David September 30, 2011 at 2:06 PM

As a yoga teacher I’ve always found santosha difficult to teach. Difficult because it frequently elicits feedback from some students along the line of: How can I be so selfish as to be content when the world is filled with suffering? And if it’s pointed out that the niyamas are personal practices, then the response might be – Are you telling me now that I’m not interconnected with everyone else? Speaking for myself, I think that santosha is a very subtle practice.

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Sherrie July 27, 2014 at 9:17 AM

I’ve been through many experiences in my life. Some positive but more negatives. Although I do believe that what we go through is given to us because we need to learn something on a higher level of thinking, that we may not understand as yet. But by embracing what the universe gives us and by viewing it as a learning process, it helps me to keep santosha and live a more fulfilling spiritual experience.

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Maria @dailydownwarddog July 29, 2014 at 10:30 PM

Sherrie – thanks for sharing your wisdom!

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