My favorite Niyama (set of ethical guidelines from the Yoga Sutras) is Santosha. The Niyamas act like a map to guide you on your life’s journey. The Niyamas are personal practices that relate to your internal world, your inner observances, how you relate to yourself.
Santosha translates to mean contentment. In order to be content and have gratitude, the guideline states to accept both past and present and make peace with it. (I didn’t say the Niyamas were easy) Being grateful for everything in life. Not waiting more or even wishing things were different.
Yoga challenges us not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. To be our best selves…to live our best lives.
I started on a gratitude journey last May. I downloaded a cell phone app to track things I was grateful for each day. It started out very general with things that I definintely do not take for granted, but things that were expected to be on the list. Health, Home, Food, Safety, Family/Friends
Months later and there have been interesting things that I have noted along the way. My lists became much more specific and counted small moments that normally would have been completely bypassed in a given day. The sparkle on snow that looked like glitter in the moonlight. The taste of the first sip of coffee in the morning in my favorite coffee mug (Halloween type skull with the word poison across it). Our lives are full of these small moments. That is what yoga is for me off the mat (one of many things). To have my eyes open to see these moments that otherwise just blur into the background of the day.
“Giving and receiving is the law of life. When we give with love and accept with deepest gratitude, our souls rejoice”
— Debasish Mridh
Recently gratitude shifted yet again. Gratitude as not just being something that I receive (things that I have, given to me, etc) but also gratitude for things that I can personally give to or do for others.
I began to write down that I was grateful that I love, have the capacity to love. That I can give comfort. Even that I can give my mom some yoga moves and shapes that help her asthma feel better during the cold winter days. Helping her means the world to me. Especially with a shortage of students to teach right now as an independent teacher. I remind myself that I started teaching since it would be worth it if I could help just one person. I have 5 students right now and I am humbled and grateful for each one of them.
Being content and grateful with what I have, what I can give, has been a life lesson for me. One that I remind myself daily. It is still a practice for me. I am perfectly imperfect and there are many rainy days where it is SO difficult to write in my gratitude list. But those are the days I need it the most.
My hope is that you find a journal, cell phone app, etc that helps you to track and store these gems in life. Give it a try, you never know what you will find.
The Buddhists speak of developing an abiding calm. A centeredness that is unshakeable. Like a tall tree so rooted in the earth that great winds cannot topple it. This for me is the image of contentment. It means not riding the waves of the ups and downs of life. It means that we not only agree to what is in the moment, but we actually welcome it. Staying in our calm center, practicing gratitude and nonseeking. This moment right now is complete, there is nothing missing. Life is complete the way it comes to us in each moment. Understanding this, we sink into Santosha.
— Deborah Adele “The Yamas & Niyamas”