Santosha or contentment is one of the niyamas in yoga. The Niyamas refer to duties directed towards ourselves – inner observances. They are intended to help us build character and morale. When we intentionally practice contentment, we are likely to feel it interally more foten.
Every year I take a solo trip to my family’s home in Vinalhaven, ME, a small island of only a few thousand. Living off-the-grid gives me space to withdraw, connect with nature, and rejuvenate, and I look forward to it each year.
This past year, my father (who owns the home) joined for the trip, and the dynamic changed from the solo adventure I had become used to. Instead of withdrawing, I found new connections. I was able to mingle and bond with my father, his wife, and friends in a way that felt more authentic than ever. The trip was not exactly what I thought it would be, but I found a kind of unexpected contentment that I adored and ended up feeling closer to my family than ever.
So often in life, our happiness is conditional on what we have or what we think we want to have. This is a difficult practice indeed; it is in our nature to set our eyes on something and to not let ourselves rest until we’ve reached some goal – this has helped us survive as the human race! At the same time, finding contentment even in the unexpected can be just as important and can allow us to maximize unforeseen opportunities that arise.
The point is when we are presented with a circumstance that is different from what we expected, we may find ourselves reacting or dissatisfied. If, however, we get into the practice of finding contentment even when life throws us for a loop, then real power and peace is found.
Kelsey Reed Armbruster