Samtosad anuttamah sukha labhah
–Yoga Sutra 2.42
Contentment brings supreme happiness–so translates Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 2.42. This contentment (santosha) is the result of being just as we are, without going to outside things for our happiness. Things come, and we let them come. If they do not, it does not matter. Letting go of attachments allows us to rest in the here and now, content, not living in the past and not anticipating the future. In this way, it could be said, we walk the middle way.
When we review those occasions when we have been truly happy, “…we shall almost certainly find that they had one characteristic in common. There were times when, for this or that reason, we temporarily ceased to feel anxious; when we lived–as we so seldom do–in the depths of the present moment without regretting the past or worrying about the future.” [Christopher Isherwood]
Practicing santosha actively in our lives requires a certain amount of willingness to enjoy exactly what each moment brings, no matter how it arrives or what it contains. Peace of mind can never be dependent on external circumstances, which are always changing in ways beyond our control. It is easy to practice santosha when things are going well. But, if we are able to be content when things are difficult, then we are truly free.
We practice santosha in small ways on our mats, by accepting what our practice looks and feels like, just as it is, on any given day. Daily, hourly, even moment to moment, we continuously practice letting go of the past. As my teacher puts it, “Hold close the yogic premise that whatever we have in the present moment is enough.”
A mantra practice to try anywhere, anytime: Breathe in, “I am.” Breathe out, “Enough.”
See you on the mat!