Yoga Philosophy – contentment

Yoga Sutra 2.42; santosha anuttamah sukha labhah

“From an attitude of contentment (santosha), unexcelled happiness, mental comfort, joy, and satisfaction is obtained.”

The final 4 Niyamas (still on the second limb of 8 limbs of Yoga) are my favourites, I’m not sure you are supposed to have favourites when it comes to Yoga philosophy, but complete honesty always!

Contentment, true contentment, what does it mean to you? To me it means this – what if everything was taken away from you, everything you owned, your house, car, all possessions. Would you still be happy? You could then go on to ask yourself what if all those you loved were taken from you, and your body started to fail you, could you still be happy then? For me this is a little too much of a stretch, however I regularly try to practice the first step. Contentment even if the ‘to do’ list doesn’t get done. Contentment even when you fail in reaching those elusive ‘goals’. Contentment as you age, as your body changes. True contentment from within, not when you have paid off the mortgage/taken that trip of a lifetime/completed that course. This is the stuff Yoga is made of and it is the true test of a Yogi.

I am the ultimate goal setter, needing to be the best I possibly can be, and constantly striving for more. However slowly, ever so slowly, Yoga teaches me that I don’t need to always be pushing, I can just be, even if it is only for a moment, or a day, and things will be ok. Better than ok, the more I let go of needing to be doing everything I can to achieve more, the more santosha I feel. I start to look around at the society we live in and how much we strive, push, DO, and I wonder what it’s all for, what if we just took time to sit where we are, would that be so bad?

“Contentment comes from within: We humans seem to always be seeking satisfaction in the external world and our internal fantasies. Only when we comfortably accept what we currently have, will we be able to do the practices that lead to the highest realization.” Swamiย J

Even with all we have here in the Western world we want more. More money, bigger houses, better schooling, more food, more stuff…more. I could talk about this endlessly, but really it’s just more words, more thoughts, more stuff to fill your head. So I will leave you with these lyrics from the beautiful Eddie Vedder, he says it better than I ever could anyway…

“It’s a mystery to me
We have a greed
With which we have agreed
You think you have to want
More than you need
Until you have it all you won’t be free
Society, you’re a crazy breed
I hope you’re not lonely without me
When you want more than you have
You think you need
And when you think more than you want
Your thoughts begin to bleed
I think I need to find a bigger place
‘Cause when you have more than you think
You need more space
Society, you’re a crazy breed
I hope you’re not lonely without me
Society, crazy and deep
I hope you’re not lonely without me
There’s those thinking more or less less is more
But if less is more how you’re keeping score?
Means for every point you make
Your level drops
Kinda like it’s starting from the top
You can’t do that
Society, you’re a crazy breed
I hope you’re not lonely without me
Society, crazy and deep
I hope you’re not lonely without me
Society, have mercy on me
I hope you’re not angry if I disagree
Society, crazy and deep
I hope you’re not lonely without me” – Eddie Vedder

Alicia xxx

 

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