There are yoga concepts which people gravitate to more than others in the same way that we like certain star signs more than others, or colours, or authors.
The notion of santosa is one of these. Who wouldn’t be attracted to the idea of contentment?
It’s not easy, however, to be content. Some of us lean towards perfectionism (not mentioning any names here), which makes it difficult to be happy with the way life is in this moment. The glass-half-empty people look to the Someday when their desks will be clear, their relationship partner will remember to make the bed, and their business is thriving.
I’m sorry to say that I have a bad habit of falling prey to dissatisfaction – the opposite of contentment. I can call it a habit because I know that I have choice about my behaviour, but being dissatisfied is sort of a reflex position when I’m not being conscious.
I know that acceptance of myself even when being less than my perfect self is the way to improve my condition and ultimately find contentment.
How the practising of contentment can work, according to the wise counsellor Vyn Bailey*:
- I accept the fact that I’m being cranky, mean-spirited, unhappy, or any of a number of negative emotions.
- I ask myself, ‘Is there anything I can do about my feelings?’
- If there is, I do it – no matter how difficult it may be – which is often owning up to my responsibility in how my behaviour has affected others.
- If there is nothing I can do, I accept the fact that things need to stay the way they are, at least for the time being.
Contentment brings supreme happiness.**
**The Essence of Yoga-Reflections on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, by Bernard Bouanchaud.