“A harvest of peace is produced from a seed of contentment.” — Proverb
Weekly Focus: Santosha (contentment)
Derived from the Sanskrit word “sam,” meaning completely or altogether, and “tosha” meaning contentment or acceptance. Translated fully as “complete contentment.” Santosha is the second of the niyamas, or personal observances.
With the onset of Autumn, the excitement of Summer begins to fade away. How do you remain content within the present moment even when the luster of summer fades? In English, contentment is defined as “a state of happiness or satisfaction.” Contentment + happiness are interesting concepts — it doesn’t always mean elation, joy and outright bubbles, butterflies, rainbows + sparkles. It CAN, but it often DOES NOT. When one is content, they do not continue to seek beyond what they have. A content person knows when enough is enough, just as the animals know how much to store away for the winter, when to lie down for a long winter’s nap. Initially, for a lot of folks, Autumn might bring excitement + happiness — something new when we are absolutely sick of Summer. But once we remember what comes next, we start to resonate in the impending doom of it all. Contentment asks us to stay right where we are + take it all in — to not want beyond what we have or need. It’s often in the subtleties — the smell of an autumn fire, the sound of crunching leaves, the color of the trees turning. You are enough. You have enough. Where will you find those moments of utter content this Autumn?
Passive Pose of the Week: Knees-to-Chest (hug yourself!)
A pose that allows you to take a deep breath in and then to breathe out with gratitude + contentment for yourself. Lying on your back, hug your knees into your chest, wrapping your arms around your shins. We may feel the urgency or need to squirm, wiggle or rock in this pose. Can you invite yourself to hold in stillness, and be content just as it. We often move about to distract or takeaway from a feeling of discomfort, perhaps to avoid or flee a moment. Even if it is only for a breath, can you pause, and just take it in, as is?
Active Pose of the Week: Virabhadrasana I (Warrior 1)
Warrior 1 is a steady pose to stable yourself in — the reality is, lunges sometimes suck, so how can we hold with contentment, finding our balance of strength + ease? Stand with your feet 3 – 4 feet apart, allow your back foot to pivot about 45 degrees with the toes out, while bending your front knee to about 90 degrees. Your shoulders will stack over your hips with your arms reaching up high, biceps alongside your ears. If you are ever in class, and the teacher is asking you to hold this pose for more than a breath, you may start to have some dark thoughts (“Do they realize how long we have been lunging for????”). Utilize the power of your breath to find your contentment. Experience the sensations, explore the feelings in your body mentally. Perhaps if you activate or engage a different muscle, it will release pressure that may be building. Maybe you have room to soften elsewhere that you may be gripping.