By Lisa Brabender
Appreciate life more and develop a “Zest for Living”! How many of us say that our life will be complete when we get that new home, a nicer car, take that exotic vacation, lose those extra pounds, or when we retire? Life is always filled with challenges…Reality is, there’s no better time than now to be happy…but it’s a conscious decision that we need to CHOOSE!
One of the teachings from the Upanishads is to cultivate healthy habits. Through our yoga practice, we get a chance to address and change those habits that are not so useful and continue to reinforce and work on those that aid in moving our lives forward. Chances are most of you have already made some big changes this year and are maintaining healthy habits. One intention that I continually make is to practice cultivating Santosa (contentment). And to be truly content, we have to stay connected to this very moment and appreciate how much we have rather than how much we want. Let’s embrace this month’s theme: Live in the present, not the past or the future, by diving into one of the yoga sutras that addresses Santosa. “II.42. By contentment, supreme joy is gained”.
Santosa is contentment from within and being at peace with ourselves, at any given moment, and especially at this very moment. We can take this anywhere regardless of our environment. It is accepting both the bad and the good in our lives and being comfortable with what we have and what we don’t have. It is the experience that nothing is lacking. It is being able to refrain from focusing on what we should have done or what we hope to and are expected to do and just be content right now. Santosa is both an attitude we bring to our activities and an effect of our actions. They go hand in hand. If we can just stop wanting more, stop wishing for a better situation, stop dwelling on the past, then perhaps we might just be able to appreciate what we do have, leave the past where it is, be able to accept everything as it occurs and realize that life is essentially good. Of course, realizing it is only half of it, second part is believing it, feeling it inside. Many of us never even realize we have everything needed to be content inside ourselves and spend life looking outside for it. Think about it… if we can carry this attitude of inner contentment with us at all times, it will be a little easier to face life’s obstacles and even if we can’t overcome them, we will be able to accept them. Cultivate the understanding that we do ultimately hold the power to our own happiness. That happiness may at times get lost, but it always returns, if we let it.
There are so many ways we can improve our enthusiasm for Life: Develop a healthy lifestyle and maintain a sense of humor (laughing at ourselves and our situations helps to elevate our moods and makes us feel better); Spend time with friends and relatives in whose company you really enjoy or with individuals that inspire and support you; Establish a sense of purpose and maintain a strong belief in your own personal values. You just might develop another healthy habit and start appreciating what you have. So wherever you go and whatever you do after reading this, try bringing a little Santosa along for the ride and see what happens.
In the words of Sophocles, “Tomorrow is tomorrow. Future cares have future cures, and we must mind today.”