The pendulum towards Santosha – contentment

Patanjali’s yoga sutras… somewhere you can find many hidden gems…
I had some thoughts this morning on my yoga mat that lead me to be reminded of this ancient text.
The Niyamas are the second limb of the eight limbs of Raja Yoga (aka, Ashtanga Yoga) which are described in this text.
You can read more about the Niyamas, and indeed all of the sutras here.
In the meantime I wanted to focus on one of the Niyamas in particular
Niyamas could be seen as duties & obligations.
They are the things you do ‘do’ so to speak…
The second of these Niyamas is ‘Santosha’…

So, what has this got to do with my current juice feast?
And what about the pendulum and this ‘Santosha’ business!?
For some reason today I kept noticing, how so many things in my life have been like a swinging pendulum…
Back and forth from one extreme to another…
And now, slowly the pendulum seems to be swinging slower, less wildly… towards ‘Santosha’.
The best examples I have of this effect (which I can actually attempt to verbalize) have come up in, yoga practice, cleansing practices; lifestyle choices in general…

This morning sitting on my yoga mat, as I breathed the final 10 breaths, I recalled a time when this practice was such a roller coaster it was almost too much to take.
There were days when I was high as a kite!
Coming on leaps and bounds with my physical practice left me feeling elated and euphoric… to the point where you would have called me unhinged.
On other days however, when I was tired, heavy, finding it hard or just out of sorts, I recalled the sadness that crept over me.
Sometimes, it was like it was the end of the world, like i’d never ‘get there’ (who knows where ‘there’ even was for me?!), I felt depressed to say the least.
Indeed it was like a pendulum – from one extreme emotion to another, I jumped on my mat and became absorbed in the outcome.
I let it rule me.

Similarly, over the last few years I have explored various avenues of detox, health & wellness with cleansing.
This has journey has revealed changes in my own physical health, but also metal health too.
There have been times where the physical detox has been so strong that I couldn’t take it, I pushed the blame out side of myself, to another person, place or thing.
I seeked a story to attach to the process.
On the other hand, I have of course experienced the ‘highs’ from detox, so high I was afraid of ever ‘coming down’.
Again, the pendulum of feeling, emotions and thought processes was there, I never realized how obsessed I was with ‘something happening’… I didn’t care what it was, I was just looking for something.
Not anymore…

Of late, my yoga practice still has it’s highs and it’s lows, but my internal pendulum is not swinging too far from the center.
There is a feeling of ease, no matter what happens, I am now able to sit back and watch.
It doesn’t feel like so much of a whirlwind but it is still just as challenging, fun and rewarding

Similarly, during this juice feast I have really noticed how my attitude towards the outcome has changed.
I am not as attached to the outcome and instead completely absorbed in the process.
Taking one day at a time I see myself go through detox, high energy, low energy and all the rest of it… I am just not as effected as I used to be.
I am also not attached to a specific result or ‘sign’ of cleansing, instead I just let the veggies do their thing.

I am by no means trying to say that I have reached the yogic ‘end point’ (that does not exist!!!) nor does it mean I am completely ‘clean as a whistle’ (who is?!).
Perhaps what’s new is my attitude to it all.
In that space between the highs and the lows, I can sit quite comfortably…
In that space I am more happy, more satisfied, there is more ease.
It is exactly that which makes me think, the more at ease you are with the space in between the extremes, the less we are drawn to the extremes.
And so, that’s where the title to this blog comes in.
I think santosha ‘contentment’ is there for us all, we just have to re-learn how to be at ease with ourselves.
When we stop desiring the drama; the extreme highs and deepest lows we return quickly, right on to our center point.
It might sound strange to say that someone might desire ‘drama’… but it seems like it’s something a lot of us thrive off; like it makes life interesting, gives us a story to tell and stops us from having to just be.

So, if you are done with the roller coaster, step off…
Enter the interesting world of the true you.
Get to know you, how you feel, what you love.

To return to my point, it is also quite interesting to me to observe that Santosha directly follows the first Niyama; ‘Shaucha’.
When we explore aspects of our selves using ‘Shaucha’; cleanliness of thought, mind and body, (using meditation, yoga and detoxification of the body through diet for example) we are lead us to explore ourselves on a deeper level.
In turn, that awareness is the starting point for feeling better about being you.
That said, perhaps Patanjali was trying to say that this act of Shaucha is what leads to Santosha?
By cleaning up our thoughts (replacing hate for love), clearing our minds (focusing on the present moment and what is truly happening now) and by cleansing our bodies (using yoga, cleansing practices such as juice feasting), we can find this satisfaction we ultimately all require to live happier more fulfilled lives!

May you be filled with loving kindness.
May you be well.
May you be peaceful and at ease.
May you be happy.

Tibetan Buddhist blessing

Thanks for reading πŸ™‚


3 thoughts on “The pendulum towards Santosha – contentment

  1. Suzy says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I use my ‘pendulum theory’ to make sense of so many things – personally and around the world. It seems like when things start to change for the better we keep pushing in that direction and got so excited about the changes that we miss the ‘inertia point’ and things then start to get worse – so we abandon those changes (which were good in moderation) and start pushing in another direction…. and if we push to far – ooops we go beyond the ideal – and so on and so on. Even though I see it in world politics and policies its sometimes hard to see it in yourself.

  2. Gill says:

    Thank you for sharing this Susan, it is wonderful food for thought. Reflecting on this, I kept remembering the space between our breath; the moment between the inhale and exhale when I am entirely centred in my experience. It feels to me that at this moment I give up ‘attachment’ and am able to notice a calm moment of contentment. Perhaps I can use this as a tool to now help access this contentment in my inhale and exhale! xxx

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