The other day, this feeling of contentment unexpectedly came over me. I had spent six hours at a business event with lots of inspiring presentations, and when I came back I went out for a walk with my dog. Lots of space and nature around me, the sun was still shining (see picture above!). At that moment, I realised I felt content in my mind and my body. I hadn’t achieved anything specific, and still I felt uplifted – maybe I was more than content!😄 There was definitely a feeling of relaxed happiness in me.
To place contentment in a yoga context: Contentment is called Santosha in Sanskrit, and is mentioned in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
I sometimes teach yoga classes where I choose Santosha as the theme of the class. To me in this setting, it is about being okay with where you find yourself during the class. You can come to a sense of contentment regarding where your breathing is at, how you find your mind in that moment, and in the yoga posture you are in. Personally, I find there can be a sense of contentment even though my mind is a bit agitated, or my breath doesn’t feel as calm as I thought it would be. I allow myself to be aware of how things are, without judging or evaluating myself. Some days Downward Facing Dog can seem really easy, and I get a great sense of length through my hamstrings and achilles tendons. My body is happy to open that way and there’s a sense of deep wellness as I’m stretching. However, on other days, I quickly notice sensations in the body that are somehow blocking me from getting to where I “could” be in this posture. One day the breath is simply flowing, and there is a sense of ease and lightness in how I am moving on the mat, and on other days – it’s simply not there!
I find that it helps if I start my practice with the intention of contentment. I sometimes get pleasantly surprised! My agitated mind can come to a place of stillness, just like that. It can of course also go the other way around, where I believe “I’m really calm now” although actually I’m not. And that’s okay.
If you set the intention of contentment for your day, or for your yoga or meditation practice, it doesn’t really matter what happens next. Then you don’t need to get too affected by how you find yourself. It truly helps bringing a sense of contentment for things as they are. Less striving and more allowing. Less Doing and more Being.
There is impermanence in everything, nothing ever stays the same. Water will over time reshape a pebble with sharp edges. So maybe we can go easier on ourselves by remembering this sense of contentment? Change always happens, some way or the other. Bottom line is, wherever you find yourself, perhaps coming into a sense of contentment. No resistance to what is. Wishing you well! X