We live in a world where we are constantly chasing everything bigger, better and faster. Our mantra has become gimme gimme more gimme more but nothing is ever enough and we are left with a terrible feeling of dissatisfaction.
Santosha could be the only thing that saves us from all this self-induced suffering. In yoga philosophy, we have the Yamas and the Niyamas, which can be described as guidelines that pave the way to enlightenment or self-realization. One of those guidelines is Santosha, or contentment. It turns out that very few of us are ever fully satisfied. The chase is endless and even when we reach the very thing we think will make us happy, we are still plagued with the need to gain and accomplish more. True happiness evades us and the gnawing feeling of emptiness just wont go away no matter how many friends we surround ourselves with or how many things we collect.
Pure peace and happiness don’t depend on external factors. The exciting feeling of “happiness” we get from a new pair of shoes or a new relationship is ephemeral. That’s called conditional happiness – it fades fast and it can’t even compare to the eternal bliss that’s available when we let go and experience that we are enough just as we are right now. Our real selves are already perfect but society and corporations would like us to believe otherwise. They feed off the fear and insecurities of the ego and they don’t miss a chance to have us believe that we need this and that to be truly happy. There is nothing wrong with trying to improve ourselves or desiring material things. It does become a problem when we forget that those things can’t fix feelings of sadness, emptiness or inadequacy.
TKV Desikachar, a world-renowned yoga master, describes the meaning of Santosha as accepting what happens. In other words, accepting whatever life offers you and learning from it. It is also accepting ourselves just as we are. There is no need to be different than I am and no need for my life to be any different in this moment. Going against what IS creates a lot of stress and tension. Think of it as swimming upstream against the current. It’s much more pleasant to go with the flow and the contentment we feel with inner peace. Life events may go up and down but when Santosha is present we can remain balanced and calm. Some people might confuse contentment with complacency but it’s quite the opposite. We can still have goals and desires but we aren’t slaves to it. With contentment there is no attachment to any type of result. If we are expecting a certain result and it doesn’t end up working out that way, what happens to our inner peace?
We all experience suffering, frustration and pain along with joy, success and happiness. Such is life. We enjoy and are grateful for the high times and get through the low times as best we can. When we are in a state of balance and generally satisfied with ourselves and our lives, we enjoy more of what life offers.