I have to confess, I'm struggling with this one this week.
Santosha, contentment, is one of the precepts of yoga. Pantanjali, the man who compiled the Yoga Sutras, defined santosha as "satisfaction; satisfied with what one has; contentment". Nischala Joy Devi, author of The Secret Power of Yoga, paraphrases Pantanjali's description in the following way:
"when at peace and content with oneself and others (santosha), supreme joy is celebrated"
She goes on to say that if we have faith, we will find
"the peace that abides in our hearts, no matter what the fates bring...With this attitude, all things that come and go do not have the opportunity to override our joy. Instead, they metamorphose into stillness and peace."
Well, I'm struggling with that this week. For me, it's not a sense of wanting material things, being discontent without those material things. It's a sense of being discontent, peace-less, when things are uncertain. I've written about this before. This week, there is a certain uncertainty in my job, I have a busy schedule and am therefore not taking enough time to rest and fill-up, I am physically tired cause my sleep has been interrupted regularly by bad dreams and tossing and turning, and I am finding it difficult to hang on to that santosha. Instead, I observe my thoughts of escape, running away, telling myself the stories I do, where I'm going to move away from this town, leave my job, go find greener pastures, etc. I am an escape artist, in my mind, at least :) that's my way of coping.
But what I'd like to find, is that way to embrace and live santosha - to be able to keep that peace and stillness and joy, regardless of the circumstances, the uncertainty.
One way is to hang on to that faith, that all of this is temporary and will pass, that there is a wonderful purpose and path to my life, that everything is perfect, as it is. This is not easy for me this week - my negative, unhappy, dark thoughts are crowding out that faith talk. But at least I recognize it :)
One way is to build my life more carefully, so I can get the rest, the quiet time, the space to cook and eat healthily, so that the uncertainty doesn't rock me the way it does when I'm exhausted and a little physically unbalanced.
My practice helps with this. Somehow, I am still getting up each morning and doing my practice, which I feel may be the only thing that is carrying me through this, when all I want to do is run (or crawl into my bed and stay there for a few days). I am able to find moments of stillness and joy, even amidst the spins and discontent. I will notice those, I will celebrate even those tiny moments, and trust that more will come.
Nischala Joy Devi writes:
"For most of us, the subtler aspects of santosha elude us from time to time. Everlasting joy cleaves to us through cultivating the understanding that we hold the power to our happiness. Even if temporarily lost, our joy will soon return, as it is the lifelong reward for attaining wisdom."
I will trust. I will breathe. I will have faith, that that joy will soon return :)