One of the niyamas (observances) of yoga philosophy is santosa, or contentment. It’s a niyama that I have been working on since I started my practice, but it’s one for which I have much work remaining. Santosa is complex because of all of the ways that it is related to our understandings and beliefs about life. We can cultivate contentment in our relationships, our jobs, our financial states, our physical beings, our surroundings, and so on. When things seem “good,” it is easy to be content. But when life isn’t working out the way you hope or think it should be, it is harder to be content.
In my own experience, I’ve had success over the last while in developing more contentment in my relationships. I’m certainly not always content with them, but I don’t get as upset as I once did. I rarely get really angry or depressed about a relationship (or the lack of one), and I have found that this has made my life and interactions with others seem much better, even when the patterns of behavior in the relationship don’t change much.
An area that I have mixed success with is in contentment with my physical self. Sometimes it’s all good. Even having a chronic auto-immune disease, and associated pain, doesn’t seem so bad at such times, as I can embrace the fact that it has taken me to places that I would not be otherwise. Losing my hair in clumps at a young age created an opportunity for me to dissociate from the necessity of time and energy spent on hairstyles, and I love the idea of all the time I have not spent on that. Other times, it’s harder. I’ve been experiencing some extra bother recently from the RA pain, and there are days when I have to work hard not to feel angry about it. And, as my friends and spouse can tell you, I’ve been a bit whiny about the weight I’ve gained recently (regardless of whether it’s maybe related to an increasing physical activity level).
I suppose I’m not on my own in this mixed success. After all, would anyone have ever needed to write this down as an observance if it wasn’t sort of difficult to manage? Notice that there isn’t an observance that reminds us to eat sweets or take naps.
Well, I feel a little bit like this post should be longer, but I’m going to just be content with what it is and say,