Santosa is all about contentment. It is a Niyama from the Eight Limbs of Yoga. I’ve been reading in “Light on Yoga” by Iyengar. I’m re-reading it for the 3rd time now. Trying to pick up pieces that I didn’t catch along the way the last time I read it. Santosa stood out to me last night. Iyengar states “A mind that is not content cannot concentrate.” I’ve been stuck here for a while. Thinking about what it means to be content. Americans aren’t taught to be content. They are taught to consume and attempt to make their lives flashy on the outside, but really just encourage a terrible cycle of things that exploit the earth and its people. Our honest lack of Santosa is upsetting.
I sit and think about how I have never wanted for anything. I have sat around, hoarding energy and objects that could be going to help someone else. Earlier this week I spent time cleaning things out. I threw away a bunch of old toiletries, papers, mail, and I even went through my “box of important sentimental crap” and threw some of it away. Love notes, trinkets, mementos. I went through my clothes and tossed a bunch of stuff that I haven’t touched in a year or more. Things that just keep moving with me, but never get used. Like, who needs all this crap? Why are we so driven to consume it? We all know better.
I’ve been debating on trashing the mattress I have in my guest room. It’s over 10 years old, and no one uses it. Not often enough for me to justify keeping it anyway. I want the space. Yet, I’m still apprehensive about tossing it all because of stupid “What If’s” that play out in my head. Sure I have friends come visit from time to time, but I still have a couch. It’s so weird to be so nervous about trashing something. Yet, I had no problem throwing away “important crap”? Says something, doesn’t it?
“Contentment and tranquillity are states of mind. Differences arise among men because of race, creed, wealth, and learning. Differences create discord and these arise conscious or unconscious conflicts which distract and perplex one. Then the mind cannot become one-pointed and is robbed of its peace” (Iyengar, 37).
Can you imagine a world where men were content with their own way of being, their own actions, their own resources, their own land, etc and just allowed the world to exist? No, I can’t imagine it either, but it sounds nice.
Having conversations with friends about life sometimes you’ll catch yourself saying “I’d be happy if I just had enough to do XYZ.” Whether it is to live in a beach cottage in Key West, get new tires for the car, take a vacation to Europe, or whatever is just a false sense of Sansosa. Of course, you should always strive to improve yourself, but you don’t always have to strive for more. Does that make sense? And there is no harm in wanting to move into a beach cottage in Key West, but where you are right now, as you work toward that dream, are you content? Thankful? Do you respect the journey more than the destination? It’s all about the moment and appreciating what you have right this second. As they say, tomorrow isn’t a promise. If that is the case, how can you be content in the moment? In this day and time? I find myself stopping and thinking more. Writing more. Feeling more. I try to make an effort to be in the moment more. Doesn’t always work, but it’s a work in progress.
I’m still as guilty as anyone for over consumption. My worst thing is with art. Here soon I’m going to have to incorporate gallery practices and let some rest for 6 months and allow the other ones to hang. I’m okay with that though, because art makes me happy. But a lot of the other things do nothing for me. So, what’s the point?
“There is contentment and tranquillity when the flame of the spirt does not waver in the wind of desire.” (Iyengar, 37-38)
Even if it isn’t in your ability to purge and get rid of unnecessary things, or to even stop consuming at a rapid rate (believe me, I like shopping it is hard to stop) at least take the time to be content. Because that leads you to a place that provides far more than a place full of material possessions. Finding contentment creates peace, and who doesn’t need a little bit of that?
It isn’t just applicable toward the objects we have, but how we see ourselves. Are we content with how we look? Are we content with our small nose or flat chest or thunder thighs? For me I am content with how I look. I feel like I’ve looked this way the majority of my life, but I am probably the only person that believes that. The fact that I’m content with myself, doesn’t mean I’m just hanging out not attempting to become better. I did that enough already. I can be content and strive toward something at the same time. I know it doesn’t seem like that should work, but somehow it does and it is oddly satisfying.
Just some thoughts….<3