Santosha – Cultivating the sweetness of contentment in July

To help remind us all to continually return to the sweetness in our lives, our theme for July is one of our favorites –  Santosha!  The second Niyama in Patanjali’s sutras, Santosha is defined by the Sanskrit roots: sam:  completely or entirely, and tosha: acceptance and contentment.

Santosha “complete acceptance or contentment”, is considered both an attitude and an inner state.  One works to cultivate the attitude of acceptance, satisfaction, and a lack of desire for what others have, in order to achieve an inner state of deep contentment.

While the concept is easy to grasp, the practice of Santosha can be difficult.  Changing our inner narrative about ourselves or a situation can be hard enough, and doing so in our very comparison heavy world (we’re looking at you Social Media)  can make it all that much harder.

But there are many small ways that we can start making contentment a habit.  In the summer, when we often slow down a bit and have some space to loosen our typical routines, we can consciously ease up on what we are looking to “achieve” and instead open up to what IS.  Whether it is strolling outside  to savor the sights (or the ice-cream!)   rather than rushing to your destination, or allowing yourself to not have an agenda when visiting a new place so that you can simply “go with the flow”,  we can begin to change things in our day to savor the sweetness that is already there.

In our Yoga practice we can experiment with softening,  to feel the more subtle energy of each pose rather than pushing to find an edge or achieve mastery.  In difficult poses we can tune in to our inner narrative and  begin to move it from  “This is impossible, I can’t do this,” to  “This is really challenging, how can I work with it today?”

Perhaps most challenging both on the mat and off, in cultivating Santosha we commit to  noticing how often we compare ourselves to others and find ourselves or our situations coming up short, and then consciously begin to re-direct our attention to the beauty that is right in front of us, and within us. . .the sunshine outside, the AC inside ! , the great privilege of time spent on our mat and the amazing abilities of our bodies and all the work they do,  the joy of our time with loved ones . . . and that MR softee cone ! 😉