Contentment can be elusive, especially when we’re chronically subjected to adverts for the latest smart phone, wrinkle cream, luxury car, perfume, clothing… you name it, all of those adverts come with the same underlying message that what we are, have and do isn’t enough.
Be honest with yourself now, even if those adverts feel like water off a duck’s back, how often do you notice what your neighbour has and does and compare yourself? How often do you compare your ability in yoga class to the person next to you? Envy, jealous and coveting what others have is the direct opposite to contentment. So how do we cultivate contentment when we live in such a materialistic culture? Unless you’re living as a hermit in the Himalayas somewhere (and if you are, you’re definitely not reading this) then I’m certain that at least one of the examples above resonates with you. Well, it’s a practice, and one which requires attention and commitment, it’s not something that comes naturally to many of us. “Comparison is the thief of Joy” said Theodore Roosevelt. It’s true too. If simple contentment delivers such peach and joy, then comparing what we have or do or need with anyone around us will diminish that light within us.
The practice of Santosha is about observing what we have, exactly as it is today. If you stop right now in the middle of reading this and look around you. Notice where you are, you have a device to read this on, are you comfortable? Are you warm enough and safe? I’m guessing if you have time to be here then you are. Have you got enough food right now, water, how is your state of health? Simply speaking, the more we notice all that IS working for us in life and all that we already have, the more peace and contentment we generate. It’s an exercise and one which takes a commitment. So, the next time you compare yourself to someone more content with life than you, remember – it’s there for you too! Just make the commitment today.
Take Santosha off the mat today: Start a gratitude diary. List 10 things at the end of every day that you’re truly grateful for. They can be small, for example a nice cup of tea, warm socks, a friendly hug, a good meal. Or maybe you’re grateful for your work, the sky, the weather and your friendly neighbours. Whatever comes to you write it down, don’t stop until you reach 10 and then if more come, just let the gratitude flow.