The Forgotten Practice of Contentment
I hope this email finds you well, wherever you are.
I have always been drawn to unfamiliar cultures, societies and environments. I travelled a lot back in the day and in every country I've been to I was much less interested in tourist attractions or sightseeing and more fascinated with how people live their every day life, what moves and drives them.
One thing I noticed in different cultures is the overall different levels of contentment, how people deal with undesired situations. In some cultures people seem to make significant efforts to avoid these situations and in others it seems that people are more prone to facing discomfort with lightness and ease.
One of the most useful yet forgotten yoga practices is Santosha which is the practice of contentment. The ancient Rishis (early yogis) recognized how valuable this practice is and how powerful it can be for everyone, particularly for those who are looking to expand our consciousness. They listed that as one of the foundational yoga practices. For me it has definitely been a struggle for many years but it is also one of the practices that I try to give the most attention to.
We can all relate to that feeling of something missing, of craving a different situation than the one we are in, or a specific outcome that isn't there. This constant friction between what we want and wish for in our life and what is actually happening is creating lots of noise and turbulence in our mind. When the capacity to be content increases it is usually followed by a profound state of peace and tranquility.
How can we practice Santosha? How can we start feeling content with whatever comes our way? And most importantly, how can we be content and yet at the same time do what we can to improve our situation?
After all, practicing contentment does not mean being apathetic or unproductive. It is actually meant to improve the quality of our actions and not to avoid engaging with life or being active.
This practice does not work in isolation or vacuum, it is meant to be integrated with other practices, but there are still ways that we can improve our overall feeling of contentment.
The most effective way is to be aware of patterns of discontentment. Awareness eventually leads to transformation. A great time to start developing this awareness is next time we step on a yoga mat and do our practice. We can always notice when we face a moment of resistance to what comes up, whether an unpleasant sensation, thought, emotion, or any other kind of experience. We can observe the subtle push and pull at every moment, the unconscious desire to modify the present reality, the urge to turn it into a more desirable one. These patterns can appear in many different shapes and forms, all we got to do is keep our mind alert and open to notice them when they arise.
Looking forward to sharing yoga space with you
With love and gratitude
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