Contentment.

The theme for the month of November in one of my yoga studios is contentment, one of the niyamas called santosha. A state of happiness and satisfaction, of being at ease with things as they are. As the Buddha says, “Peace comes from within”, and this inner peace is a result of a calm mind. For at that very moment the mind is relieved from the compulsion of constant thinking, from planning, worrying or striving, we experience peace and happiness. Our mind is able to fully experience each moment. In the now. And we are able to love every moment. In its perfection. And it is why we come to yoga practice again and again.

There are 196 Yoga Sutras which are threads of knowledge, aphorisms, that have been passed on for thousands of years. They were originally disseminated by word of mouth from Rishi to student until a great sage Patanjali compiled and articulated them into Sanskrit literature. In the second sutra, Yoga Sutra 1.2: Yogas citta vrtti nirodah, the goal of Yoga is revealed. Yoga is the restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff.  So do the yoga, our mind will be calm and we will become peaceful, happy and content. I’ll be the first to admit, way easier said than done.

Once we bring our awareness to our thoughts we can begin to acknowledge what they truly are, mostly habitual behaviors, opinions and judgments conditioned over time. A wise yogi once told me we don’t always have to buy everything the mind tells us. When we stop to observe and not respond to our thoughts, we can begin to truly experience what is happening in the present moment instead of living in the past or looking towards the future. The mind is calm, like a still clear lake, and we are able to then see our true Self in its reflection. We are free of the mind-stuff.

So what happens when it is tough to let go, to not attach to our thoughts? I struggle with meditation and completely relate to how calming the mind is hard work. Savasana (corpse pose) is one of the most difficult poses in my opinion. Fortunately Patanjali goes on further and has lots of options for us. One of my favorites is Yoga Sutra 1.36: Visoka va jyotismati. Translated it means concentrate on the supreme, ever blissful Light within. So try this…imagine there is a beautiful glowing golden orb in the center of your heart, like a lotus flower. And with each breath you fan the flames of that fire, the Light, so it begins to shine a little more brightly and more brilliantly. Your true brilliant Self. The Light in me sees the Light in you. Shine on yogis, Namaste.

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