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Santosha, the second Niyama

Welcome back! In the last series of posts, I introduced the first Niyama, Saucha. In these next few posts, we’ll be learning about the second Niyama, Santosha which means contentment.

Contentment is a state of happiness or satisfaction. Contentment can come from acceptance – not complacency, but knowing the difference between things that you can and cannot change. If we can accept things, situations, people as they are, rather than trying to change something that we have no control over, we will be more content. When we spend our energy on things we can’t control, we create our own suffering.

I’m short. I’ve always been short. Growing up I often felt that I was pushed around, or pushed aside and ignored because I was short. I felt I missed opportunities that taller people had. I was the butt of many jokes. I wished I were taller. Even just a few inches taller. I believed that would have changed my life! All of that wishing, and hoping for something that could never be made me miserable. I was not happy with me. I had to learn to accept myself as I am. Once I did, a lot of things seemed to fall away. I learned that even though my body is short, it is capable. It can do many wonderful things. I learned to embrace my step-stool, and my tall friends! I learned that if I can’t reach something in the grocery store, most people are happy to help if I just ask, and the ones that aren’t happy to help, well they don’t matter.

Santosha is the lack of, well, lack. That feeling that we are lacking or missing something (in my case, a few inches of height). That feeling that drives us to keep grasping for more. I’m not talking about motivation. Motivation in itself is good and has its place, but no amount of motivation in the world was going to make me taller. I’m talking about that sense that no matter what we have, someone else has more or has it better. That is what can steal our happiness, our contentment.

I’m also not suggesting that we should not try to change things. There are injustices in the world, and if we can, we should try to affect change. Sometimes it just means, standing up and saying what we believe. Often, if enough of us who share the same views let that be known, it can create a shift. Part of the way that we can do that is to vote. Part of that may be peaceful protests or demonstrations. It is never wrong to say what you believe. It can be hard sometimes to accept that our views are not shared by others. We can explain our views. We can educate others, and we can and should be willing to be educated. Having an open mind and being willing to talk about our differences can lead to more contentment.

As I write this, we are in the midst of a polar vortex again here in Minnesota, and I am content that I have a warm home, warm clothing, and to know that I am protected from the elements. Some are not so lucky.

Thanks again for stopping by. Next time, Santosha on the yoga mat.

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