Santosha (Contentment) as the second of the five Niyamas (Observances) is the root of joy; its opposite is the root of suffering. It is all about being content with one’s actions and with what one has, what one is, where one is and with what one has done or what one is doing. Our mental makeup & state of mind allow us to find contentment in any situation. Remaining focused in the face of adversity and practice of choosing love over fear is Santosha. When we let go of our narrow and shortsighted ideas of happiness and open ourselves to all experiences, we take the first step toward Santosha. Once we're in a state of Santosha, even our desires are quelled by the inner feeling of contentment. It is the key to all the Niyamas and an obligatory condition for enlightenment.
WHAT IS CONTENTMENT
Contentment is serenity, comfort, reconciliation, acknowledgment. When we're in a state of Santosha, we can feel inner peace. We begin to see things differently. We begin to enjoy the simple things in life- folding the laundry, listening to the rain, smiling at someone on the street. Contentment heightens our appreciation and experience of what exists and therefore enriches us deeply. We have lesser need to go out, get something new, and enjoy more of what we have. Being contented doesn't mean not to have goals in mind, things we want to strive for. The difference is that when we're in a state of Santosha, we're unattached to the results and there's no comparison to anyone or anything else. We retain our inner balance. We feel grateful for the experience and open to what the universe has in store next. We become open to outcome, rather than fixed on one particular result. It actually opens us up to explore and experience more in life. We become whole and complete for who we are in the moment. That is a feeling of contentment.
CONTENTMENT & CONSOLATION
There is a big difference between contentment and consolation. The difficulty arises when we just try to adopt the attitude of contentment. Often it is used as an excuse that I did my best & I'm happy with this. Consolation is a state of mind whereby one accepts the outcome without having put up the best effort. It's easy to say that that's my karma or it's not my destiny. There is an old saying “You can wake up a sleeping person but you cannot awaken someone who is pretending to sleep.” The Bhagavad Gita offers the teaching that our duty is to give our fullest and best effort to what is in front of us. Behind this self-consolatory attitude is a lack of effort and a deep hidden disappointment that could even lead to resentment and surface as anger later on. Hence it becomes clear that contentment arises out of full effort, engaged and devoted work with an attitude to accept whatever may come from it. Without the effort, there is a void energetically and the result is misdirected Prana, which will cause doubt, uncertainty and fear. To make progress on this inner growth, spiritual path requires a level of contentment within. This is essentially a decreased dependence to everything of this world and a greater attitude of acceptance within. The more natural we are and take better care of ourself, the more would be this acceptance.
HOW TO CULTIVATE CONTENTMENT
There are several ways to cultivate contentment. Sincere introspection, regular prayer, meditation, repetition of the lord’s name, reading of the scriptures, selfless service, love towards humanity, generosity will all lead you towards contentment. Experiencing Santosha requires practice and one way we can work towards the same is through a mindful and openhearted approach to the eightfold path of Patanjali. Practice of yoga keeps our energies balanced and our mind serene. The deepest contentment comes at those moments when we feel we are in the flow of life, when we are communing with nature, when our energies are positive and when we have no desires. By being conscious of these moments, we can strengthen, expand and sustain the feeling of contentment for longer periods. When we consciously practice Santosha, we spend more time in contentment and less time in agitation, more time in consciousness awareness and less time in the emotionality of anger or depression or other negativities. Contentment offers a doorway into another avenue to experience the world. There is elegance to how it shapes power in lives and allows for greater service to the world. Even when we are surrounded by chaos and disharmony, we can return to this feeling and find ourselves back in a place of peace and calm. The state of contentment becomes a familiar place when we observe it throughout the day. The key is to bring our attention fully to it when it occurs and not hurry on to the next activity. In addition, by affirming our place in the cosmos and our connection to others, it is easier to find inner peace.
- Develop an attitude of contentment (Santosha).
- Gratitude is an important aspect of Santosha.
- Be grateful for all the good things you have in life.
- Look around you and be thankful for the good relationships, your ability to reason, your health and your position in life.
- There is always someone in a worse situation. There is an old saying-A man was complaining that he had no shoes till he came across a man who had no feet. Don't complain about what you don't possess.
- Write a list of all the blessed gifts you have.
- Understand the nature of your desire.
- Realize your weaknesses or those aspects of life that are holding you back in some way.
- Be thankful for sunshine, fresh air, food and the sounds of life.
- Be happy, smile and uplift others.
By putting Santosha into practice, you can get rid of cravings and attain great happiness to progress on the spiritual ladder, path, journey or whatever you want to call it. Begin by accepting yourself completely and joyously, and then extend that gift to all those you pass and meet on the sacred journey of your life.
Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna